I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, July 15, 2011

"They're Evil, But Your Shoelace Is Untied"

Paul Krugman cuts to the heart of the matter today regarding the increasing insanity of the Republican party:
Which brings me to the culpability of those who are only now facing up to the G.O.P.’s craziness.
Here’s the point: those within the G.O.P. who had misgivings about the embrace of tax-cut fanaticism might have made a stronger stand if there had been any indication that such fanaticism came with a price, if outsiders had been willing to condemn those who took irresponsible positions.
But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a supposed deficit-reduction plan that included huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, thenreceived an award for fiscal responsibility.
So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem. [emphasis mine]
This is exactly right, and I think about it every time I read a piece like this editorial from the Asbury Park Press.
Democratic state Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney’s rhetoric may have been a bit over the top Tuesday in the wake of his party’s failure to override Gov. Chris Christie’s line-item veto of $189 million in state budget cuts for cities.
Sweeney declared that Republicans had “voted basically to put people to death,” and asked, “How many more people have to die?” Hyperbole, perhaps. But it is hard to argue with importance of restoring that aid to distressed cities.
The cuts, if ultimately enacted, could lead to large-scale layoffs and raise the potential of a bond default. A top ratings agency, Moody’s Investors Service, announced late Tuesday that it had put Camden and five other cities under review for a possible downgrade on their bonds. 
With half of the firefighters in Camden laid off this year, and 40 percent of the city’s budget coming from state aid, those cuts would be devastating. [emphasis mine]

"Hyperbole'? You just admitted half of the firefighters are laid off. Don't you think lives are literally at stake here?

This is yet another example of a bizarre tendency of "centrist" pundits and policy makers to qualify any attempt to call out evil/stupid/crazy conservative nonsense with a slap at liberals or Democrats for much smaller transgressions (which are often made up anyway). It's almost as if they can't let themselves call out conservatives without protecting their rear flanks.

Here's another example: a Star-Ledger editorial I wrote about over at Blue Jersey. After Tom Moran and crew rightly take down the Congressional Republicans for turning down a deal that gives them more cuts than anyone ever imagined a Democratic president would cough up, the editorial then goes after Congressional Democrats:
What about the Democrats? Nancy Pelosi, the majority leader in the House, says she will fight any cuts to Medicare or Social Security. She must reason that since Republicans are winning concessions by acting crazy, she might as well take a shot, too. Even modest moves, like limiting benefits to the wealthy, would cross the line that Pelosi has drawn. She is the mirror image of Republicans who refuse any tax hike. [emphasis mine]
No, she's not. Social Security has never been the problem with the debt; Social Security is running a surplus. Overwhelmingly, the problem with the deficits we face has to do with the wars, the economic downturn, and the Bush tax cuts. It is ridiculous to compare Pelosi's desire to save the greatest anti-poverty programs in US history to the childish whining of Eric Cantor.

And in any case, she isn't holding the American financial system hostage to placate idiots like Michele Bachmann. Republicans alone are responsible for taking us to the brink.

But "centrists," for some reason, must make these false comparisons. Why is this? Do these "centrists" live in such mortal fear of the tea baggers and the dittoheads that they can't just focus all of their ire at the evil/stupid/crazy people who push their evil/stupid/crazy ideas? Do they think a spoonful of liberal-bashing sugar helps the conservative-bashing medicine go down?

If so, they are, as Krugman says, complicit in the mess in which we now find ourselves.

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