In my latest essay for the Fox News website, I try to clarify the massive misconception plaguing Democrats and Republicans at the moment:
After the Great Depression and in the lead up to World War II, the United States debt to GDP ratio was over 100%. And what did we get for that? Not only the resolution of a major world conflict but the New Deal, a package of government stimulus programs that rebooted the economy and created two generations of broadly shared prosperity in America.
Today, the debt to GDP ratio is 60%. So what exactly is the crisis?
I go on to look at other economic measures and dispel them… and then look at what the real crisis is at this moment in history. Check it out and help share it online.
From today’s column at Salon.com, a list of the stunningly insane things that the Republican candidate for vice president of the United States actually believes. I mean, really, this guy wants to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? It’s worth scrutinizing his record (at least) one more time:
While Mitt Romney’s defining quality seems to be his inability to define any consistent viewpoints on the driving issues of the day, Paul Ryan is running on a pretty clear and consistent record. And unlike Romney, who changes his stance according to his audience, Paul Ryan has clung to extremely unpopular ideas even in the face of public backlash.
What are the five nuttiest things Paul Ryan believes? Read the whole column here.
Fox News asked me to write the liberal response to Paul Ryan’s GOP convention speech last night. So I did. I described it in three words: Dazzling, Deceiving and Distracting.
Here’s a sample:
On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.
The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.
Do read the entire piece here. It’s making quite a stir.
It was even tweeted by comedian (and voice of Remy the rat in my kid’s favorite movie, Ratatouille!) Patton Oswalt:
Wow.WOW.FOX News calls bullshit on Ryan’s lie-packed speech:fxn.ws/OzkZ8f
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 30, 2012
…. which was way cooler than Paul Ryan’s speech. Lying ain’t very presidential.
UPDATE: And now a tweet from Rob Delaney (guess the comedians are loving me today):
Here’s a FOX News article for your dad: foxnews.com/opinion/2012/0…
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) August 30, 2012
Just back from vacation, I found myself in the awkward position of criticizing President Obama’s lack of bold action on the economy while simultaneously defending him from a Republican Party that has unquestionably governed with disastrous effect.
The Democratic Party desperately shoved through a debt deal that manages to be wildly unpopular with the American public, disastrous to economic growth and job creation and, not incidentally, opposed to every core principle of shared sacrifice that liberals supposedly hold dear. This will go down in history as the moment Democratic liberalism died. Finally brought down by the repeated blows from the far Right? No. The fatal wounds were entirely self-inflicted.
The vast majority of Americans favor raising taxes on the very rich and oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Let me repeat that. The vast majority of Americans favor raising taxes. That includes majorities of Independents and Republicans. Nonetheless, Obama refused to force-feed the Republicans heaping spoonfuls of tax increase peas with a glass of persuasive poling on the side to wash it down. Instead we got the proverbial shit sandwich, which given that no one is happy with the deal and partisanship is even greater now as a result, may have solved the economic crisis but enshrined a political one. Even with the prevailing winds of public opinion strongly at their back, Democrats caved to Republican threats and grandstanding.
Of course, the fact that raising the debt ceiling was coupled with deficit cuts was a Democratic capitulation from the start. The wise and independent Economic Policy Institute writes in its post-mortem:
This proposed debt ceiling deal tentatively concludes a needlessly manufactured crisis and will do great harm to our nation. The debt we are undertaking now and scheduled to undertake over the next ten years is solely the product of past decisions (primarily unfunded wars, an unfunded prescription drug benefit and two rounds of tax cuts under President George W. Bush) and the recession-related revenue losses caused by the financial crisis generated by financial deregulation and weak oversight…. There is no economic necessity to undertake spending cuts or deficit reduction plans at this point in the economic recovery, when high unemployment is expected to persist for several more years. Jobs should be the priority and jobs are the path to get our nation’s fiscal situation to a responsible place.
In other words, what’s needed to cure our economic stagnation is not spending cuts that will further cripple the middle class but more spending on infrastructure and jobs to kick start the future. Yet at precisely the moment that we should have been talking about spending more instead of cutting spending, Republicans pigeonholed the political conversation into slashing Social Security, food stamps and Medicare. Democrats agreed to play ball on Republican’s ideological home field. And then kicked the ball through the other side’s goal. It is, unfortunately, my liberal suckers thesis played out to the letter.
I voted for Barack Obama. I volunteered to help him win. And yes, I was swept up by the fantastical Camelot of hopes and dreams. But like many progressives, I’m reminded today that 2008 was about the mission, not the man. And if we cling to the hope that Barack Obama, as one of the few charismatic leaders on our side, might any minute now take up the mantle of progressive ideals that he has so clearly eschewed so far, that is a reflection less on his power over us than our own power of self-delusion and desperation.
Michael Tomasky brilliantly observes that while Republicans fear their base in the sense that they treat them with respect and kid gloves. Democrats fear being associated with their base and thus make “aggressive public moves to demonstrate that they aren’t really like their base.” Which is all the more absurd — or pathetic, really — given that the Republican base is in fact an extreme fringe while the Democratic base represents a very large, very mainstream segment of America. More voters stayed home in the 2010 mid-term elections than voted, and yet the Tea Party has managed to hold a powerful ideological sway not only over the Republican establishment but, clearly, President Obama and many Democrats. The Tea Party is an audacious fringe with mainstream influence. Meanwhile, progressives represent the moral mainstream yet have barely fringe influence.
I’m sick of being taken for granted, in general but especially when something like basic tax increases on the very rich are not only good for our economic future but something that the American people overwhelmingly support. If the President isn’t listening to us now, when will he? Obama didn’t just stab Democratic liberalism in the back — he may have cut himself off from his base permanently.
My take on the continuing default crisis, Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB, and James O’Keefe’s latest disaster >> If you want to receive my adVantage Points every weekday morning in your inbox, email email@example.com
Republicans Retreat To Right - story
Republicans are not only holding our nation’s entire future hostage, but they’ve hijacked basic common sense and political decency. The Tea Party will go down in history as the movement that threw America overboard.
James O’Keefe At It Again – video
James O’Keefe notoriously brought down the community organization ACORN through falsifying videos that undermined the organization’s reputation. Before anyone believes O’Keefe’s attack on Medicaid in Ohio, we need to see (a) proof that the clips shown do not included edited-in voice-overs, and (b) unedited footage of all discussions with Medicaid workers. Given O’Keefe’s track record, we should take this latest video with a grain of assault.
Cordray, Not Warren, To Head CFPB - story
Obama could have done worse with this nomination, but he could have done much better. Warren was by far the best choice for the job and favored by progressive voters. Why is the President so inclined to throw bones to the far Right on spending cuts and deportations, but can’t make the most basic of gestures to his base?
My take on the final showdown — by which I mean the default crisis, not Harry Potter… >> If you want to receive my adVantage Points every weekday morning in your inbox, email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Decision Time” Says Obama - story
If only we got a trillion dollars every time Republicans tried to pass the buck on the default crisis — we’d be out of the hole in no time! Republicans have already won just by the fact that we’re having this debate; and they’ve already exacted more cuts to vital spending than tax increases on the table. Republicans — putting the id in ideology.
Seriously, the 1-in-4 House Republicans who say they won’t vote to increase the debt ceiling no matter what are in blatant violation of the Constitution. Not to mention that running for government office with the intention of destroying government is treasonous.
Is Harry Potter A Better Fighter Than Obama? - story
This weekend, Harry Potter will finally destroy
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