Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fiscal Reality

It is useful to listen to a sane voice while all the cacophony of doom and gloom fills the air. Republicans in the US moan about "deficits" and "debts" and paint a bleak picture of being on a precipice or even slightly beyond while a chasm yawns and hope seems far away. Into that nonsense, Paul Krugman prints reason and light in his NY Times op-ed:
... there are still moments when I find myself saying, “They can’t really be that stupid,” or maybe, “They can’t really think the rest of us are that stupid.” And I had one of those moments reading about a recent conference on national health policy, which featured a bipartisan dialogue among Congressional staffers.

According to a column in Kaiser Health News, Republican staffers jeered at any and all proposals to use Medicare and Medicaid funds better. Spending money on prevention was no more than a “slush fund.” Research on innovation was “an oxymoron.” And there was no reason to pay for “so-called effectiveness research.”

To put this in context, you have to realize two things about the fiscal state of America. First, the nation is not, in fact, “broke.” The federal government is having no trouble raising money, and the price of that money — the interest rate on federal borrowing — is very low by historical standards. So there’s no need to scramble to slash spending now now now; we can and should be willing to spend now if it will produce savings in the long run.
Funny, Republican governors are stripping unions of rights hard won in fights over decades because they are claiming that we are in "end times" and the only way to save the nation is by feeding small babies to Moloch in the hopes that will satisfy him and allow people to keep their jobs.

The tragedy is that the US is leaderless. Obama refuses to answer the call:
Of course, Republicans aren’t the only cynics. As the national debate over fiscal policy descends ever deeper into penny-pinching, future-killing absurdity, one voice is curiously muted — that of President Obama.

The president and his aides know that the G.O.P. approach to the budget is wrongheaded and destructive. But they’ve stopped making the case for an alternative approach; instead, they’ve positioned themselves as know-nothings lite, accepting the notion that spending must be slashed immediately — just not as much as Republicans want.

Mr. Obama’s political advisers clearly believe that this strategy of protective camouflage offers the president his best chance at re-election — and they may be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the White House is aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our deficit debate.
I hope the American people punish the Republicans for their lying and hysteria. And I hope the American people refuse to re-elect Obama because during a state of emergency for the nation, he decided to "play politics" and position himself for running for a second term rather than answer the call and stand up for the people. Shame on Barack Obama!

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