Monday, April 4, 2011

GOPCon Instructions for Remembering and Forgetting

Okay, MeanMesa visitors.  This won't be one of the "ultra-easy" posts.  Oh no.  This one will require some real "elbow grease."  So, in the very best MeanMesa tradition, let's get into those comfy old work boots and slip into those dirty old cover-alls and roll up our sleeves.  There's work to do.

"Wait!  What 'work' are we talking about, here?"

The answer is easy.  MeanMesa is going to trot out a few quotations, mainly from Obama and Boehner, but also one from Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The "work" angle comes up because we're going to have to selectively remember some and selectively forget some others.

We might, at first, consider such a mission nothing more than another academic exercise of some sort, but there is actually a little bit more to it than that.  The billionaires and corporatists have paid plenty to set up this 'selective memory' stage, and as MeanMesa patriots, the least we can do is to give it our best shot.

We are supposed to forget that the stimulus  of the American Recovery Act was a spending bill.  It was designed to spend federal money on infrastructure projects, middle class tax cuts and development projects in education, green energy and others in order to replace the missing money in the nation's "cash register."

Get it?  The stimulus bill was intended to be a spending bill.  That wasn't an oversight by a President who simply wanted to print and spend money willy nilly.  Instead of remembering what the stimulus was actually all about, we are supposed to remember a new thing, that is, that the stimulus was simply more "business as usual" for free wheeling Democrats.

We are supposed to forget that every GOPCon who could find a microphone said that the stimulus didn't work.  Remembering that would make the fact that the stimulus did work too awkward for the GOPCons and tea bags who currently have the keys to the House of Representatives.

We are supposed to forget that Mr. Boehner and his cronies all stood in a chorus line to tell us that the number one focus of the new GOPCon House of Representatives would be jobs even though the House has completely forsaken that promise in favor of spending cuts, that is, more illicit wealth distribution to their corporate masters.

We are also supposed to forget that even before the GOPCons took over the House, GOPCons in the Senate filibustered until their little national socialist faces were turning blue, sabotaging no fewer the 280 "Pelosi" bills designed to resurrect the nearly dead national economy.

Get it?  Now that this little pickle has been laid to rest, the GOPCons want you to get busy remembering and forgetting -- just like they told you to do on their "media," over and over and over, on their "media."

The "prize" for those of us who are actually able to accomplish a full digestion cycle on this "up is down" comedy will be a nice, quiet mind set, one which credibly suggests that, somehow, all this drek actually makes sense.  Those of us who can accomplish this miracle of twisted thought will be eligible for full, card carrying membership in the "FreedomWerken Express."

Yes, a membership which includes, uh, free bus rides to, uh, massive FreedomWerken rallies where the "voice of the people" can be heard, loud and clear, by the "spending cuts" tea bags in the House of Representatives and the Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and North Dakota state capitols were the most recent cases of neo-con "looting" are raging at full steam while we speak.

Just as was the case with the economic rebuilding programs of FDR, although things started to improve as a result of government spending programs, Republicans began attacks on spending before the Recession could end.  In FDR's second term, he instituted an even more aggressive spending program with the wise approval of the American voters who, by then, understood the "agenda" and intentions of the proposals by both sides.

The following articles -- and there could have been hundreds more expressing the same sentiments -- map out the parallels between what happened to FDR's plan and what the tea bags would like to do to Obama's plan.  It is now clear --  and it will become even more clear -- that these conservatives are entirely willing to sustain the economic disaster (which they created...) if it will serve as an advantage in the 2012 election.

FDR knew that the Recession was being driven by a lack of cash on the demand side, and that jobs would only be created if there were to be more money in the pockets of American consumers.  Boehner began his GOPCon "March to the Sea" with the empty promise of doing something about creating jobs.

Instead, aside from some conspicuous "dabbling" on a few social issues, the Republicans in the House have concentrated entirely on cutting spending.  As these GOPCons respond to the orders of their corporate, big business masters, further sabotaging the economy obviously doesn't bother them much -- if at all.

In the beginning, no, not Genesis, the beginning of the Obama Administration, the President said that the country needed a spending  bill to replenish the  empty drawer in the national cash register which had just been looted by the Republicans.  Here, we have to make sure that we're really clear.  Obama said that he intended to spend enough Federal money to get at least an "emergency stand by" economy running again.

So, settle into your LazyBoys, put on your reading glasses, and let's get to these quotations and do some reading.

Wall Street Journal - Obama, Nov. 25, 2008  (Read the whole article here)

"Not only do I want the stimulus package to deal with the immediate crisis, I want it also to lay the groundwork for long-term sustained economic growth," Mr. Obama said Monday at a press conference in Chicago to introduce his economic team. "With our economy in distress, we cannot hesitate and we cannot delay."

BBC-Obama, Feb. 7, 2009 (Read the whole article here)

"The scale and scope of this plan is right, and the time for action is now," Mr Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address. 

"If we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe."

New York Times - Obama Feb. 5, 2009  (Read the whole article here)

“These aren’t just statistics. This is not a game, this is not a contest for who’s in power, who’s up and who’s down. These are your constituents. These are families you know and you care about. I believe it is important for us to set aside some of the gamesmanship in this town and get something done.”

Continuing in a mocking tone of critics who complain ” “this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill,’ What do you think a stimulus is? That’s the whole point. No, seriously, that’s the point. Now I got carried away,” he joked. But, “Here’s the point I’m making. This package is not going to be absolutely perfect, and you can nit and you can pick. That’s the game we all play here. What I’m saying is we can’t afford to play that game. We’ve got to pull together."

“I think it is important to make sure that the recovery package is of sufficient size to do what’s needed to create jobs. We lost half a million jobs each month for two consecutive months and things could continue to decline, we’ll know the number tomorrow. Every economist, even those who may quibble with the details in the makeup in a package, will agree that if you’ve got a trillion dollars in lost demand this year and a trillion dollars in lost demand next year, then you’ve got to have a big enough recovery package to actually make up for all those lost jobs and lost demand.
And, you know, our original figure was roughly in the 800 range – there have been some changes to our framework both in the House and in the Senate – but that’s I think the scale that we need to deliver for the American people.”

SwampPolitics - John Boehner, , Dec. 29, 2008 (Read the whole article here)
"The American people are facing tough economic times, and they expect Washington to act - but we must act in a responsible way that helps get our economy moving again, not with more pork-barrel spending that does nothing but give taxpayers' money to special interests and campaign contributors. Republicans are prepared to work with the incoming Administration and with Democrats in Congress to craft legislation that will help our troubled economy."
"But now reports indicate that Congress may be asked to pass a bill spending as much as one trillion dollars of the taxpayers' money in January. If that is true, I hope that the Democratic Leadership will agree that such a massive piece of legislation should be debated in a fair, honest, and open way. To that end, I would ask the Democratic Leadership to guarantee that such a bill will not be brought to the floor of the House unless there have been public hearings in the appropriate committees, the entire text has been available online for the American people to review for at least one week, and it includes no special-interest earmarks."

"Polls show that the American people know that more irresponsible spending on government programs isn't what the economy needs. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to work together on reforms that will unleash America's economic potential and help our economy create jobs, and I hope President-elect Obama and the Democratic Leadership in Congress will keep their campaign promises to work with us in an open and bipartisan way."

Freedom Project, Dec. 6, 2010
(Read the whole article here)
Note: Links remain active.

"Nearly 100 prominent U.S. economists including former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ohio University’s Richard Vedder, and James C. Miller, III, who headed up the White House Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan, are telling President Barack Obama that his economic stimulus has failed and that 'immediate action is needed to rein in federal spending.'" (Economists: Stimulus Not Working, Obama Must Rein in Spending, US News & World Report, 6/10/10)
"Among other things, the economists' statement said, 'Efforts to spark private-sector job creation through government 'stimulus' spending have been unsuccessful. As economists deeply concerned about our nation's future, we urge a change in direction.'" (Boehner to Obama: Cut Spending, Create Jobs, News Max, 6/11/10)
"Boehner presented Obama with a letter from himself, accompanied by a statement signed by more than 100 American economists calling for immediate action to rein in federal spending to boost the economy and create more private sector jobs. ... Boehner noted that though he and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have written to the president 'on several occasions this year' to request House votes on the administration's spending cut legislation, noting that none of those proposals have passed." (Boehner presents Obama with letter from economists underscoring GOP points, The Hill, 6/10/10) 

FDR Heritage, (Read the whole article here )

The Second New Deal

By the middle of 1934 the New Deal, for which many had had great hopes in 1933, was experiencing serious difficulties. The economy was not improving fast enough to meet public expectations, resulting in the growth of popular and radical protest movements accompanied by one of the largest waves of strikes in the nation's history. These developments were jeopardizing the president's political future, and beginning in the spring of 1935 Roosevelt responded with a series of new proposals that historians have sometimes called the "Second New Deal." Dominating it were two landmark pieces of legislation that remain among the New Deal's principal legacies.

The Social Security Act of 1935 created the framework for the nation's first national system of social insurance and public assistance. More specifically, it created an old-age pension system funded by contributions from workers and employers, a system of unemployment insurance funded by employers alone, and several programs of social welfare supported by ordinary public funds for such particularly needy groups as single mothers with children in the home, the elderly poor, and the disabled. In operation it provided the framework for America's version of the modern welfare state.

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, better known as the Wagner Act because Senator Robert Wagner of New York was the bill's principal sponsor, reaffirmed the guarantee of workers' right to bargain collectively as first stated in the now defunct NIRA. It also provided for enforcement of that right by creating the National Labor Relations Board, empowered to compel employers to recognize and bargain with unions that had won legitimate elections among a firm's workers.

Also in 1935 the New Deal launched the most extensive and innovative program of work relief in American history to that date, the Works Progress Administration. Directed by Harry Hopkins, this agency kept an average of 2.1 million workers employed between 1935 and 1941 and was responsible for constructing a remarkable number of public buildings and facilities. Tax reform, utilities regulation, and other measures, some of them largely symbolic, were also part of this new wave of legislative action.

Second Term as President

The Second New Deal did not end the depression, but it did provide crucial short-term and long-term protections to large groups of Americans. In addition, it revived Roosevelt's political fortunes. In the 1936 presidential election, he faced the Republican governor of Kansas, Alf Landon, a moderate conservative with a dull public presence, and a third-party challenge from Congressman William Lemke of North Dakota, the hapless candidate of the short-lived Union party. Roosevelt campaigned energetically and effectively, and he won by an unprecedented landslide: 61 percent of the popular vote, the electoral votes of every state except Maine and Vermont, and increased Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress. The election displayed clearly the fundamental political realignment the New Deal had created. The Democratic party now had the support of a broad coalition of southern and western farmers, the urban working class, the poor and unemployed, the black communities of northern cities, traditional progressives, and committed new liberals. This "New Deal coalition" would dominate American politics for a generation.

Few could have imagined in the glow of the November election how quickly the Roosevelt administration would move from its triumph into a quagmire of frustration and defeat. In February 1937, emboldened by his apparent mandate, Roosevelt introduced a Court "reform" plan designed to give him the authority to appoint additional, sympathetic justices to the Supreme Court, which he feared would otherwise invalidate virtually all of the legislative achievements of his first term. The "Court-packing" bill, as it quickly became known, was intensely controversial and energized the president's conservative opposition. Congress defeated it, humiliating the president in the process. But the Court itself, in the face of this assault, prudently moved toward the center and became more amenable to New Deal programs. At about the same time, Roosevelt also supported an ambitious proposal to reorganize the executive branch of the federal government, which his opponents charged was an attempt to consolidate still more power in the hands of the president. They defeated the original proposal in Congress and forced him to settle for a much more modest bill in 1939.

The Recession (1937)

Most damaging of all to the administration was a serious recession that began suddenly in August 1937 and quickly wiped out most of the painfully won economic gains of the previous four years. The collapse was especially traumatic to New Dealers because it came at a point when they had begun to believe that the depression was over. Now, confronted with the hollowness of those claims, the president joined in an agonizing reappraisal of his policies and eventually launched two important new initiatives.

One was a newly energetic effort to combat "monopoly power." Opposition to monopoly had been a staple of New Deal rhetoric, although seldom of action, in 1935 and 1936, and now some of the most committed New Dealers convinced the president that the recession was a result of a deliberate effort by "economic royalists" to sabotage the economy--a "capital strike," as some called it. Roosevelt responded by calling for the creation of a new commission to investigate economic conditions. The Temporary National Economic Committee spent over three years studying the effects of monopoly power, but its final report, released after World War II had begun, had no effect on public policy. In addition, Roosevelt's new director of the antitrust division of the Justice Department, Thurman Arnold, began making more energetic use of the antitrust laws than had any of his predecessors. But Arnold's experiment, too, came to an end during the war.

At the same time, Roosevelt responded to pleas from liberal economists and others who argued that the recession was a result of the significant reductions in government spending he had approved early in 1937. In the spring of 1938, to the chagrin of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt abandoned further efforts to balance the budget and secured emergency appropriations of $5 billion in spending and loans for relief and public works. It was the first time a president had explicitly endorsed the idea that stimulating mass consumption through deficit spending could promote economic growth. Ultimately the idea that federal fiscal policy was an effective tool by which government could regulate the economy, an idea associated with the British economist John Maynard Keynes, became one of the New Deal's most important policy innovations and one of its most significant legacies. Also in 1938 Roosevelt won passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a minimum wage, created a maximum forty-hour work week, and abolished child labor. It, too, was in part an effort to stimulate economic growth by increasing mass purchasing power. 

USA Today - John Boehner radio speech April 2, 2011 (Read the whole article here)

Hello, I'm John Boehner. Before I had the honor of representing the people of Ohio's 8th Congressional District, I ran a small business back in West Chester, Ohio. Small businesses are the engine of job creation in America: they actually create jobs, the government doesn't. That's why I ran for Congress -- to do my part to get government out of the way of American prosperity. Despite some recent signs of life, our economy still isn't creating enough jobs. And one of the reasons for that is the spending binge that's been going on here in Washington.
Washington's inability to get spending under control is creating uncertainty for our job creators. It's discouraging investment in small businesses, and eroding confidence in our economy. To put it simply, the spending binge in Washington is holding our country back and keeping our economy from creating jobs.

Last year, when the president tried to put forward another big-spending budget on top of his 'stimulus,' Americans rose up and demanded we stop the spending binge and start working together to create a better environment for job creation. They put a new majority in charge of the House with clear orders: crash the spending party in Washington so our economy can get back to creating jobs.

We've made some early progress. This year, the federal government will spend at least $51 billion less than it would have if the president had gotten his way. And because we've kept the pressure on, Democrats in the White House and the Senate are being forced to talk about a bill that would cut tens of billions more. Over the next decade, the savings will be hundreds of billions of dollars. This is nowhere near enough, but it's a clear change in direction.

Now, you've heard Democratic leaders claim an agreement has been reached on this issue, but let me be clear. There is no agreement.

Republicans continue to fight for the largest spending cuts possible to help end Washington's job-crushing spending binge.

To support job creation in America, we need to keep the cuts coming, and we need to do much, much more. That's why it's important for Congress to get moving and pass a final bill that resolves last year's budget mess while making real spending cuts -- so we can tackle the bigger challenges facing job creation.

One of those challenges is stopping the $1.5 trillion tax hike the president has called for in his budget for next year. This tax hike will affect every family and small business in America, and it will destroy jobs. The president has also asked Congress to increase the national debt limit -- without any commitment to stopping the runaway spending that got us into this mess in the first place. If the president gets his wish, it would send the signal that America has no plan to deal with her spending illness -- and that's going to have the effect, again, of destroying more American jobs.

We also need to address all the red tape and regulations that are making it harder to create jobs and driving up the cost of health care and energy.

To put America on a path to prosperity, we need to remove regulatory obstacles to job growth, expand American energy production, end the threat of tax hikes, approve stalled trade agreements that would open new markets and get government spending under control once and for all. These are the pillars of the Republican plan to help get our economy back to creating jobs, and this is the focus of our new majority in the House.

Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

CPA-Connecticut, Feb 4, 2011 (Read the whole article here)

But then look at what happened today. A new jobs report shows unemployment dropped again last month, but not as much as some analysts had hoped, partly because the stormy weather may have slowed the hiring.

Now, so it fell from 9.4 percent to 9 percent. And Republicans are now saying that`s Obama`s fault, that the jobs report wasn`t even better.

Come on.

Today`s statement from John Boehner: “The president`s spending binge is hurting job creation, eroding confidence, draining funds away from private investment, and spreading uncertainty among really rich people.” I mean job creators.

So, Obama`s policies destroyed job growth last month, but not the previous month. And I guess the Bush tax cuts magically worked in December, but then immediately stopped working in January.

Seriously, who can believe that? I don`t even think the Republicans believe it as they`re saying it.

But it`s obvious what the plan is. If the economy doesn`t do well, well, then you blame Obama and you say, I had nothing to do with it. Me? Me? Not me. But if it does do well, you take credit and you say it was all you.

Look, the reality is that it`s pure nonsense to look at a two-month snapshot and make a judgement based on it either way. But we can look at the big picture and see a clear pattern over a much longer period of time.

During Bill Clinton`s eight years, the country added 22 million jobs. During George W. Bush`s eight years, just one million jobs. And that`s actually being kind to him, because the recession cost us a huge amount of jobs in `09, after he helicoptered out of town.

And how about Obama? In 2010, the U.S. added 1.1 million jobs, more than were added during the entire Bush presidency.

Look, the jury is still out on Obama and this economy. But when it comes to which party creates jobs and which party doesn`t, you just saw the record. The record is incredibly clear.

C-Span, April 1, 2011 (Read the whole article here)

"A key government measure on the nation's jobs situation reported today that the U.S. unemployment rate for March went down for the fourth month to 8.8 percent.

Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, and mining. Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up."

To MeanMesa visitors -- don't forget that you read this...  some of these "talking points" may come in handy during the "water cooler" wars of the 2012 election.

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