Epiphanyblog

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Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?

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Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama

McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor chose to crash the US economy for political reasons

Among others, the UK Guardian makes a convincing case against Republicans on why the economy has not recovered. As the Guardian states, a policy ‘intended to save’ our children and grandchildren” from ‘crushing debt’ is leaving them worse-prepared for the actual economic and social challenges they will face in the future.”

In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer’s debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008.” Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers “held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile.” In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country’s continued poor economic performance.

Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn’t matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.

But don’t hold your breath on that happening. Presidents get blamed for a bad economy; and certainly, Republicans are unlikely to take responsibility for the country’s economic woes. The obligation will be on Obama to make the case that it is the Republicans, not he, who is to blame – a difficult, but not impossible task.

In the end, that might be the worst part of all – one of two major political parties in America is engaging in scorched-earth economic policies that are undercutting the economic recovery, possibly on purpose, and is forcing job-killing austerity measures on the states. And they have paid absolutely no political price for doing so. If anything, it won them control of the House in 2010, and has kept win Obama’s approval ratings in the political danger zone. It might even help them get control of the White House.

Sabotage or not, it’s hard to argue with “success” – and it’s hard to imagine we’ve seen the last of it, whoever wins in November.This is the most obvious example of how austerity policies are not only harming America’s present, but also imperilling its future. And these spending cuts on the state and local level are matched by a complete lack of fiscal expansion on the federal level. In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer’s debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008.” Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers “held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile.” In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country’s continued poor economic performance.

But this singular article is not the only indictment published in the last several weeks or months against the GOP.

Along with Robert Draper’s recently published book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives in which he outlines a private meeting of prominent Republicans at an upscale Washington steakhouse on the night of Obama’s inauguration, where they met to discuss the election and how to win against Obama through obstruction, obfuscation and spin, there is now a new book by Time senior correspondent, Michael Grunwald. The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era discusses in detail the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus Bill). Among the details revealed in this book, Grunwald writes that Republican senators explained that they were under orders from their leadership that they could not negotiate with Obama on any policy proposal. Indeed, they said, “if he is for it, we have to be against it.”

While Bob Woodward’s new book, The Price of Politics, appears, from reviewers, appears to take an almost angry view that Obama did not do enough to control, wrangle, and manage Republicans throughout his tenure in office, Matt Bai of the NY Times takes another view.

In the March 28 edition of NY Times, Bai wrote a long, very detailed account of the debt ceiling debacle that very nearly sent the world economy into havoc and another Great Depression as well as downgraded the nation’s credit rating.

Indeed, that leadership failure along with the upcoming “fiscal cliff,” primarily caused the OECD in their 2012-2013 competitiveness report, to downgrade US competitiveness from 5th place to 7th place.

Bai wrote that Obama made some crucial errors, including his natural inclination towards introversion and seeing himself as an outsider, that created an inability for him to foster the kinds of relationships that LBJ or Reagan had with members of the opposite party. Nevertheless, he primarily lays much more of the blame for the failed negotiations on the raucous, Tea Party House members and Boehner’s leadership team, including Eric Cantor with whom Boehner has an almost adversarial relationship.

Despite all of the spin and press conferences that accompanied the end of the debt ceiling negotiations, it’s quite obvious that the GOP’s politically designed hatred of Obama and willingly dedicated obstruction to anything Obama proposed caused not only the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating and our national competitiveness, they prevented a more rapid recovery.

From the very beginning of Obama’s administration, the GOP Leadership undertook a concerted effort to destroy Obama’s presidency in the minds of voters. Moreover, it’s abundantly clear that they cared more about winning the next elections, in 2010 and 2012, than in righting the economy. In other words, our ship of state is listing because of GOP actions throughout the last four years.

If those GOP Congressional members were part of the military, they would be courtmarshalled for dereliction of duty and failure to perform their assigned primary task of increasing economic growth and employment.

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One Response

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  1. I have said all along the Party did not want the President to have but one term but I did not know it was documented.

    SW Ellis

    October 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM


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