I watched both speeches last night on the debt ceiling. I have to say that this whole thing makes me crazed. It is a dumb time to talk about pulling trillions out of the economy, especially when we are talking about a policy that is supposed to be a decade long. All I see from the debt reduction right now is a slow growth of jobs because we never addressed the underlying problem of demand.
Be that as it may, there was plenty to be unhappy about from both the President and Speaker Boehner. President Obama is pitching us on the idea that cutting spending, and cutting it on social safety net programs is somehow going to bring the confidence and jobs fairies out of their coma and everything will be Moring in America again (I am not keen in any fashion on how much this President, this Democratic President grooves on Ronald Regan).
I understand that he is standing on the bridge of the Titanic and watching the Republicans push and iceberg into the path of the national and planetary economy. At this point I am not at all sure that there is much different he could have done, but that does not let him off the hook for granting the legitimacy of the deficit reduction by hostage taking (call it Disaster Legislating) in the first place.
He had the bully pulpit and could have been hammering it for months if he chose to do so. It is entirely possible that things would have been different, but it is water under the bridge now.
Last nights speech was kind of a primer for those (unlike you and me) who have not been paying attention and don’t have a the history of debt ceiling fights on the tip of our tongues. Still he was far too easy on the Republicans in terms of who is at fault for our massive debt. Five trillion (that is 5 million, million for those how don’t do big numbers well) was added to our debt in the 8 years of the Bush administration. That is more than 1/3 of the total.
If the self same Republicans who are talking about “spending binges” had show the least bit of restraint, we would not be in as deep a hole as we are now.
For all that he does get full marks for explaining and making his case for (misguided, and really painful) cuts to the budget and the method that he wants to go about it. And, as always, he looked like a reasonable leader trying to do a tough job.
The speech itself was an A, but given the policy content and the fact that he was backing away from a line in the sand on taxes, I can really only give the overall performance a B-. A good speech in support of bad ideas is still supporting bad ideas, even if those ideas come from a president of my party.
Contrast that with Speaker Boehner’s speech and we really see both sides of what is wrong in Washington.
A more mendacious fifteen minutes has probably not been experienced on TV since… well, similes’ fail me. I have a habit of yelling “Lies!” when I hear them on TV. I know, all it does is startle my wife but I just can’t help myself. Let’s just say that I was completely horse by the end of Speaker Boehner’s bland lie fest.
Steve Benen of Political Animal has the definitive run down on the lies and distortions in the response speech.
The biggest lie of all is that the President precipitated this crisis. This is going to be the talking point of the Republicans this week. To put it in perspective, this is like a guy who takes a hostage blaming the police for not giving into all his demands. The crisis could be solved by a piece of legislation that is one sentence long and it would all be over. The people preventing that are not the President or the Democrats, it is all on the Republicans, specifically the House Republicans.
The bigger issue that Speaker Boehner’s Pinocchio telethon points out is the detachment from reality that has infected the Republican Party. I’ve written a lot about the Epistemological closure in on the Right. I think that this speech could be considered the end-state for such a thing.
There is always a question in Left leaning political circles as to whether the flacks from the Republican Party believe the blatant bullshit they spout. I have come to the point where I don’t think it matters one whit if they believe or not. The fact is that they are willing and able to go out and defend a counter factual position as if it were real and that is all that matters.
It is hard to grade a speech that is so filled to the rim with lies, but lets call it a flat D. The presentation was lack luster and the content matched with reality about as well as the last Harry Potter novel.
If the president’s speech was too even handed in apportioning blame, the Republican response was nothing but a truck load of trumped up blame for everyone but the hostage takers. It seems that the Republicans are unwilling or unable to accept the consequences of the actions they themselves took. Like someone with a brain injury that prevents new memories from forming, they get up everyday and see the world and know that it is a mess, and they are the only ones to fix it!
All that is missing is the fact that yesterday; they were the ones that ruined it.
I don’t know how you get through to people like that. I really don’t. We have seen the Democrats give up one position after another, things that cost them a lot of support form people like me, in order to fix avoid the consequences of Republican recklessness and know-nothingism. It has not helped.
Sooner or later (I hope) we will have a debt ceiling deal. It will totally and completely suck. It will be the wrong solutions at the wrong time, and yet for all that, it will keep us from an even worse problem of default.
It will be both the President’s and the Republicans fault, but mostly the Republicans. The really tragic thing is the hostage takers will be rewarded. They will have convinced us all that they really are that fucking crazy as to tank the U.S. economy on purpose, and because they have managed to take the President along for the debt reduction ride (which they have never really cared about) they will not pay the comparable political cost.
The floor is yours.