Friday, October 4, 2013

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, He'll Shut Your Government Down

Originally, I was going to write this article about the media trying to equalize blame between the Democrats and Republicans for the government shutdown. Then, on Wednesday night's Rachel Maddow, I heard about my least favorite two words.

"Grand Bargain."

Yesterday I discussed how the Grand Bargain was a deal where Republicans get nearly everything they want for small scale revenue increases on high income earners. Well, given our current shutdown, talks of the grand bargain resumed. This Forbes piece stresses the Grand Bargain "...would revitalize the economy, put America on a fast growth plan and hopefully balance the budget..." Oh, it will do all that? Well why not? It's grand! And it's a bargain! We all like bargains, don't we?

This joke of journalism is everything that is wrong with our media.

Oh sure, the piece hits Republicans, saying "The Republicans – whose sole goal has been to hold the government hostage to defund ObamaCare – has proven to be ineffective at best, destructive at worst and clearly at odds with the will of the American people." See, at this point, I agree with this post. It is a factually accurate explanation of the situation.

But here we go, "President Obama – whose strategy has been that he will not negotiate with anyone about anything..offers little in terms of leadership and direction for a country that is clearly at risk." See? The blame is equal now! Forbes is Fair & Balanced! They give us one side, and then they give us the other! That's what being media is. Find the two sides, and stand in the middle, and call everything even.
by Daniel Kurtzman

Except it is completely and totally false that Obama and Democrats haven't negotiated "with anyone about anything." The continuing resolution that was passed by the Senate is already a massive "compromise" that gives Republicans literally more than they asked for in discretionary cuts.

It started with the sequester. Republicans pinkie-swore the Democrats they weren't just going to intentionally run out the clock to appease the anarchists in their party. And Democrats pretended to be shocked--shocked I say!--that the Republicans had no interest in correcting the sequester after it went into effect. The sequester isn't even discussed anymore between the two parties in Congress, despite the massive furloughs continuing through 2013. So the sequester is in the budget. The "cut all spending with a hatchet" ideology won that battle handily.

Let's go back to the manufactured debt ceiling crisis of 2011. Paul Ryan suggested a draconian, wildly unpopular budget, that slashed government spending dramatically and privatized Medicare. And this seemingly crazy reduced budget predicted, for 2014,  $1,095 billion dollars. The debt ceiling "compromise", much like most "compromises", gave Republicans more than they asked for, capping the 2014 budget at $1,066 billion dollars, which the Democrats got no revenue increases for.

Now to 2013 numbers. Before the government shutdown, the Democrats gave House Republicans a continuing resolution for $986 Billion. That's right. Democrats gave Republicans $80 Billion (primarily through the aforementioned sequester) in cuts from the already draconian cuts they gave back in 2011 for the manufactured debt ceiling crisis, which already had more cuts than the Tea Party's wet dream of a budget presented by Paul Ryan. By the way, here's the source for the above numbers. Let it never be said I don't cite my sources.

Now, I will give Democrats this, while they have made draconian cuts, the cuts that they have made have largely spread the burden around (except to the high income earners), where Republican cuts would have almost solely targeted the poor, sick, and elderly. So while Democrats have surrendered time and again to Republican demands, at least they haven't privatized Medicare. Well, yet, anyways.

But now, according to Forbes, CNN, et al.,  Obama needs to bargain further with Republicans?

Actually, it's even worse than that. Democrats supposedly have to give Republicans everything they want with no revenue increases again. The Republicans, if they get everything, will simply let America continue to exist as a somewhat functional nation, albeit one that can't pass any laws and will have another debt ceiling and budget fight in November. Maybe. Unless they think of other demands. Or their tea party wing just decides they want to destroy the economy to spite Obama. Or there's nothing on TV that night.

That's not a compromise. That's a list of demands from hostage takers. I said yesterday our only solace in preventing the 2011 planned Grand Bargain was that Republicans were so out of their minds they wouldn't take it. Today, I wonder how much farther Democrats will compromise in 2013.

Remember, Republicans campaigned on arbitrarily shutting down the government. Rachel Maddow did a fantastic job covering this Monday. It's 16 minutes long, but absolutely worth watching. They aren't honest negotiators, and they should not be treated as such.

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