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The Real Republican Economic Plan

There is a lot said about why President Obama has not been more effective in his policies. I’ve heard many people ask why he hasn’t done more to improve the economy. When I hear people ask this, I am taken back to something I read after the 2010 election. Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, stated that “the single most important thing [Republicans] want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Cartoon by Jeffrey Koterba

That’s funny, Senator, I thought the single most important thing for Congress was to represent the people, improve the economy, pass legislation that created jobs, and work towards the bests interests of the United States and its citizens. I guess when your political party is out of power; you can say the hell with doing your job and just focus on getting rid of the other party’s candidate.
If you’re skeptical about this, then I have even more evidence of the problem. In a book by Robert Draper titled Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Draper describes a meeting that was held the night of President Obama’s inauguration. Now, a meeting to discuss how to win back political power from the opposing party is not surprising. It’s the way they decided to win back the power that is concerning. They didn’t decide to work hard for the best interest of the American people and prove that they are really interested in our best interests.
They decided the best course of action would be to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.”

Draper quotes Rep. Kevin McCarthy as saying, “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

Cartoon by Paul Fell

What does that tell us about the lack of progress over the last two years? It tells me that the outrage that Republicans have shown over everything Obama has done has simply been a show meant to stall progress. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the Republicans admitted (behind closed doors) that they agreed with much of what Obama has proposed.

A great example of this in action was the huge deal that was made over the debt ceiling. In case you aren’t very familiar with that this actually is, the debt ceiling is the limit on how much the federal government can borrow. The government borrows money by issuing marketable securities such as bonds. Now, Congress had already approved a budget. This means that they approved how much would be spent. Then, when it came time to give the government the tools to spend the money that they approved, they made a huge deal out of it. It had to be raised. They already approved the money being spent, and where it would be spent. They knew perfectly well that they had to approve an increase in the debt ceiling. It was just another attempt to convince people that it is a horrible thing. Not including this year, the debt ceiling has been raised 102 times since 1917. It was raised 8 times during Bush’s office. Even John McCain, Obama’s 2008 Presidential opposition, called the ideas that were stalling the approval “foolish.” But, as they said, they had to oppose everything.

Another example would be the fervent opposition to the health care bill that was almost identical to the health care bill that Republicans proposed in the 90’s. See my post The Pot and the Kettle for a full discussion of that hypocrisy.

Cartoon by Clay Bennett

What makes me laugh is that Boehner recently showed Republican hypocrisy again when he asked, “Do we have to fight about everything?” He continued with, “How in the world did we ever get here?…Think about this: a fight being picked over an issue that everyone knew was going to be resolved; a fight being picked over an issue that there is no fight over.”

Considering that this is exactly what the Republican strategy has been for the last four years the answer would have to be: we got here because Republicans were so upset that they lost the election that they decided to completely stop trying to work together for the common good. They are only interested in gaining back that power.

This lack of any attempt to work together is one factor that led to Norm Ornstein, noted political scientist and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to call this the “worst Congress ever.” The evidence is plainly in front of the American people, not only in their words, but also in their actions. I’m sure when that group meets again they will share a laugh at all of the silly conservatives who bought into their feigned outrage and opposition. At least they will be right to laugh. If this election goes poorly, the rest of us won’t be laughing.



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