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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, January 26, 2009


Republican strategy: party before country

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, January 26, 2009 permalink View blog reactions
The GOP is in full obstructionist mode regarding the economic stimulus plan - there's an excellent summary at myDD of the GOP's general strategy:

The GOP's main contention has been now for over 30 years that by reducing the top tax rate on personal and corporate income that a large increase in aggregate total savings would result. Yet the savings rate of American households has been declining for more than a decade and it now stands at the lowest level of the post-WW II era. Since 2003, the combined annual net savings of households, businesses, and government have declined to about one percent of gross national income. So if increasing the savings rate is the goal so as to thus increase investment, cutting taxes hasn't worked.

And yet the GOP continues to pitch the idea that tax cuts lift the economy. Well, the Democrats are batting now and they shouldn't swing at balls outside the strike zone. To continue the metaphor, this is the GOP's set up pitch. They want the stimulus to fail and they know full well that the gravity of the situation portends an extended economic downturn that they will look to blame increasingly on the Democrats on the hope that Americans have short memories when it comes to assigning blame. That's their game plan. They want the President and the Democrats to strike out. Tax cuts pacifies their base but not ours and doubly does next to nothing when it comes to lifting the economy. For them, it's a win-win. But it's a lose-lose for the American people.

The reality is the tax cutting regimen has been a race to the bottom for most Americans. The top 300,000 Americans collectively now enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980 and equaling levels not seen since just before the onset of the Great Depression. Earlier this year, Citizens for Tax Justice released a report finding that 70 percent of the benefits of the capital gains and dividends loopholes will go to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers in 2009. Same as it ever was for the GOP. The game is the same as always, starve the government of funds and you might just prevent a national health care system. It's time for a different course.

A different course indeed - and Obama has the popular mandate to do so. As Obama said to the GOP leadership (in a meeting on his second day as president - unprecedented!) - "I won."

“We just have a difference here, and I’m president,” Mr. Obama said to Mr. Cantor, according to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who was at the meeting.

Mr. Emanuel said that Mr. Obama was being lighthearted and that lawmakers of both parties had laughed.

Mr. Cantor, in an interview later, had a similar recollection. He said the president had told him, “You’re correct, there’s a philosophical difference, but I won, so we’re going to prevail on that.”

“He was very straightforward,” Cantor added. “There was no disrespect, but it was very matter-of-fact.”

In other words, it's time to try something different and there isn't any reason to play by the GOP playbook anymore. That's what winning entails: elections have consequences, regardless of what the sore losers whine about.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.