Politics and Ideology, Not Country, Once Again Prevails in Congress

In its most current acting out as zombies, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to kill President Obama’s Job Plan.  They were joined by two conservative Democrats – Ben Nelson of Nebraska and John Tester of Montana.  Both Democrats are up for re-election next year in states that are not politically favorable to the President.  With nothing but the ideological view that government spending and tax increases for billionaires will hurt an economy, the failure to notice that the lack of spending by anyone and the top wealthiest 1% have seen massive increases in their income, begs the question, “How did these people get put into a position of leadership”?

On the heels of this Senate vote was an NBC/WSJ poll that showed a majority of people polled were in favor of Obama’s job plan.

Even though the United States Senate on Tuesday blocked President Obama’s jobs bill, the legislation’s specifics — as well as the idea of taxing the wealthy to pay for it — are popular with the American public, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

When asked simply if Congress should pass the legislation or not, 30 percent of respondents answer yes, while 22 percent say no; 44 percent have no opinion.

But when the legislation’s details are included in a follow-up question — that it would cut payroll taxes, fund new road construction, extend unemployment benefits, and that it would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy — 63 percent say they favor the bill and 32 percent oppose it.

What’s more, 64 percent of respondents agree with the statement that it is a “good idea” to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, because they should pay their fair share and can afford to pay more to help fund programs and government operations.  SOURCE

We are in a fight here for our national way of life.  The failure of leadership in the Congress and some lapses in the White House all too often come across as appeasing special corporate interests rather than what’s essentially needed to turn things around.  In a detailed analysis that attempts to answer the questions “why have the policies attempted thus far fallen so far short … and what should we be doing instead?”, Daniel Alpert of Westwood Capital, Robert Hockett, Professor of Law, Cornell University and the ever renowned Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics, New York University, have stated the obvious in their report, The Way Forward 

Our economic straits are rendered all the more dire, … by political dysfunction and attendant paralysis in both the United States and Europe.  The political stalemate is in part structural, but also is attributable in significant large measure to the nature of the present economic crisis itself, which has stood much familiar economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years on its head.  For despite the standoff over raising the U.S. debt ceiling this past August, the principal problem in the United States has not been government inaction.  It has been inadequate action, proceeding on inadequate understanding of what ails us. 

The “inadequate understanding” stems from a belief by the anti-government, Libertarian view in government these days that we can’t spend our way out of this recession and that raising taxes on richest 2% percent will deprive the economy of money needed for investments.  These are age-old talking points of the right that have been debunked over and over by business leaders and numerous economists including Ronald Reagan’s former budget director David Stockman, who told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour last November and in a previous 60 Minutes segment that “the Bush tax cuts must be allowed to expire — not just the ones on the wealthiest earners, but on everyone”.  Stockman argued that raising taxes is ordinarily a “bad thing to do,” but the US “is in such dire shape that we have no choice but to accept the negative trade-off of some harm to the economy to start paying our bills.”


This last point of Stockman’s about the legitimacy of raising taxes when the economy “is in such dire shape” was addressed in the aforementioned report, The Way Forward.

Regrettably, in our view, there seems to be a pronounced tendency on the part of most policymakers worldwide to view the current situation as, substantially, no more than an extreme business cyclical decline. From such declines, of course, robust cyclical recoveries can reasonably be anticipated to follow in relatively short order, as previous excesses are worked off and supply and demand find their way back into balance. And such expectations, in turn, tend to be viewed as justifying merely modest policy measures.

But despite the dearth of information available to those in Washington and many state legislatures along with the numerous polls that show Americans support government programs like Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and Unemployment Benefits while raising taxes on at least the wealthiest amongst us, the GOP and blue dog Democrats continue to turn a deaf ear to most of their constituents.  The only constituency that isn’t suffering under their efforts are the wealthiest 2%.  Yet billionaires like Warren Buffett and Starbuck’s Howard Shultz have complained that the GOP has been coddling their class too long and concur with the polls that say some tax increases on the highest brackets make sense.

What will it take to get these intransigent politicians to break their tight bonds with Wall Street?  Will it take an Arab Spring-style uprising that is beginning to evolve with the Occupy Wall Street movement?

NY Times columnist Joe Nocera, who has read Alpert, Hockett and Roubini’s report, The way Forward, thinks this lays out a cogent plan and can be a good start for the partisan divide in congress to find common ground with.

I don’t know that anything at this point could re-center the political debate, so unyielding are the two parties. But as Congress prepares to take steps, through the deliberations of the already deadlocked supercommittee, that will likely further wound our ailing economy, “The Way Forward” ought to at least give our politicians pause.

The report lays out a 3 pillar solution:

First, a substantial five-to-seven year public investment program that repairs the nation’s crumbling public infrastructure and, in so doing, (a) puts people back to work and (b) lays the foundation for a more efficient and cost-effective national economy.

Second, a debt restructuring program that is truly national in scope, addressing the (intimately related) banking and real estate sectors in particular – by far the most hard-hit by the recent bubble and bust and hence by far the heaviest drags on recovery now

And finally, global reforms that can begin the process of restoring balance to the world economy and can facilitate the process of debt de-levering in Europe and the United States.

But none of this can begin until reasonable are willing to look past their own political lives and ideological morass and work towards a solution that puts ALL Americans first, not just that vocal laissez-faire minority who are propped up financially by wealthy self-interests.  If they don’t we can only hope that the American voter will correct what occurred in 2010 and pray that this action is not too late.

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7 responses to “Politics and Ideology, Not Country, Once Again Prevails in Congress

  1. This dysfunction is crippling our country and others throughout the globe. Yet, the intransigence of the Republicans, who signed that ridiculous pledge, is mired in concrete. All to make sure that Obama never gets a success. This is not government by the people any more. We’re all being held captive by pure politics. I am so disgusted, I wish I had the means to move to Canada.

    • No, no Jean. Stick around and help keep fighting. These guys are wrong and it will all come to head if we keep punching. It may not come out the way we want but I still feel extremes will push more people away than it will win allies.

  2. I wish there was a way for these career politicians to read your posts. And I guess bids for elections would take precedence over the health or recovery of this country. I guess those two conservative democrats who voted to kill this bill didn’t want to be unemployed either. How freaking ironic.

    • Thanks Donna butI’m sure they know everything I have pointed out here. it’s just not relevant to them I feel because they have a political agenda that they are going to force through and damn the consequences to themselves as well as this country.

  3. Pingback: To Govern or to play Political Games? | One Lifetime·

  4. This is all a ploy, a gamble, if the economy stays in the crapper then the chance of the Repubs ruling the roost are good….and that is what they want….there is nothing about the country that concerns these cowards…

  5. Abortion! get rid of that and all else will be well 🙂 I’m being bitterly facetious of course. Funny how a recent poll indicated that over 70% of Americans are sick of this partisanship and want both parties to compromise more and deal with our problems.

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