I promise, there are numbers here, but lets have some fun first and write a screen play to set up the point. It is long, but…
The People-as-Props That Obama SHOULD Use During His Speech Tomorrow Night: John Boehner and Joe Barton. And They’re Already Invited!
Oh, dear. I guess this is going to be a regular thing. A few days earlier, our dignified House Speaker created the twitter hashtag #spendingstheproblem. Which it certainly is when you deliberately dramatically reduce revenues by drastically cutting taxes, especially on the wealthy and on corporations, and wage two wars, significantly increase expenditures on homeland security, and expand the Medicare program to include prescription drugs.
And which it surely is when those tax cuts are called, obviously tongue-in-cheek, temporary and are enacted only a decade before the huge baby-boomer generation begins to retire and to qualify for Medicare, and then are in fact mostly not allowed to expire because some of the folks who brought you the tax cuts in the first place, and who think spendingstheproblem, keep blocking attempts to raise revenues even by closing egregious loopholes that benefit only the wealthy.
Something about the Democrats having to take those tax cuts from their cold dead hands, I guess. Which if the sequester actually does occur, the Democrats will have little trouble doing, because the Repubs’ political hands will be very cold and very dead.
The Republicans delude themselves into thinking otherwise, based upon the presumption that the public doesn’t even yet grasp that spendingistheproblem only when you reduce tax rates to historically low levels and allow mega-loopholes through which hedge fund managers and Mitt Romney fly their private or chartered jets through on their way from one of their several homes to another one. The public, though, does grasp that, and showed it last November 6. And in the late December polls during the “fiscal cliff” crisis. And in the polls last month during the debt-ceiling crisis.
Yet if the Boehner’s Tweet is any indication, he still thinks that all the Repubs have to do is vote to replace the president’s sequester. And they’ve done that. Twice.
No matter what they voted to replace the sequester with. Nope. What matters is that they voted to replace the sequester, and that they did so twice. And that the sequester is “the president’s.” And that in fact it’s not even a sequester; it’s Obamaquester. The substance of what they want to enact won’t matter to the public. All that will matter to the public is that the House Republicans voted to replace the sequester with something and that therefore the Senate Dems and Obama are obligated to adopt it. That’s because the Republicans won the election last November–er, because there’s now a cutesy, juvenile twitter hashtag out there saying that the sequester is Obamaquester. First things first, you know.
The Speaker, as Paul Krugman pointed out on Thursday and again on Friday, suffers not just from short-term memory problems but also from long-term memory problems. Boehner said last week that the budget deficit has continued to increase throughout his 22-year tenure in Congress. Which, of course, is why in 2001 and again in 2003, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accellerated rather than wound down, and after we began to spend considerably more on homeland security in the wake of 9/11, and after Medicare was expanded to include prescription drug coverage, he joined nearly all his Republican colleagues to vote for the drastic tax cuts, most of it benefiting the wealthy and large corporations.
I guess that’s because #spendingstheproblem even when the budget deficit has recently been eliminated with the help of tax rate increases mostly on upper-income folks. And even when the huge baby boomer generation is beginning to retire.
Longtime House member Joe Barton (R-Texas), who apparently doesn’t favor a strategy of posting juvenile twitter posts, does nonetheless agree with Boehner that we should simply allow the sequester to take effect unless the Senate Dems and Obama agree to rubberstamp the House Repubs’ offered substitute for the sequester. The one they passed. Twice. He explained to Politico why he favors the sequester, despite pleas from constitutions who will be furloughed as a result:
It’s the next generation that he’s concerned about, he said. Which is why he refuses to consider raising taxes on this generation of wealthy taxpayers and corporations by closing loopholes through which hedge fund managers and cutely offshore-based-for-tax-purposes American corporations fly their Learjets.
Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports this morning that Obama plans to be forceful tomorrow night in explaining his economic-policy position and in refuting the Republicans’. But, as Greg Sargent says today, Obama’s preference for pussyfooting, generic, brief catchphrases, such as “self-inflicted wounds” and “We can’t cut our way to prosperity,” need actual several-sentence explanations. They’re worthless unless they’re spelled out, with actual clarity and specificity.
But here’s something else–something absolutely critical–that Obama needs to make clear. To make clear. That the Republicans have settled on a strategy of pretending that additional tax revenue doesn’t decrease the budget deficit, and of pushing that strategy via the tactic of simply making repeated public comments that ignore that additional tax revenue does exactly that. Thus, #spendingstheproblem, the sequester is #obamaquester, and neither the Clinton presidency nor the G.W. Bush presidency happened.
Both Boehner and Barton will be in the audience tomorrow night. They won’t be sitting next or right in back of Michelle, special guests of the president. But they’ll be there. And Obama should address them by name, in a comment along the lines of:
Of course, the president could instead create a hashtag on twitter. My suggestion: #pleasegrowupspeakerboehner.
Or maybe he should just sit tight. Doesn’t the tornado season begin in Texas right about the time that the sequester does? And in Ohio soon after?