The Senate  deal

So, the current headlines are lit up with “the deal” between Obama and “Congressional leaders.”  Ummm, from what I can tell, these Congressional leaders are only Senate leaders, i.e., McConnell and Reid.   The Senate has never been the real obstacle.  It’s always been all the Republican wingnuts in the House.  And heck, as we know, even if Boehner agrees to the deal, that’s no guarantee he’s got enough Republicans to go along.  So, I just don’t quite get all this breathless reporting about “a deal” when we have no idea whether the main obstacle to a deal– the House GOP caucus– is still an obstacle or not.  My hope, though, is now that there’s this bipartisan Senate deal, the corporate masters of the Republican Party are finally placing the pressure on the House they should’ve been all along.  And don’t think for a second they couldn’t be placing this pressure.  Corporate money talks.

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Are libertarians really this ignorant

[Hooray– I found my missing post in the WordPress trash.  Here it is]

So, a fairly prominent libertarian I am FB friends with posted this on Facebook yesterday along with significant praise for this article in Reason.  Suffice it to say, I was not impressed.  Basic gist– look how much the media loved liberal Paul Wellstone when he died and compare that to how mean they are to poor Tea Party types.  Hello false equivalancey!  Please, as if Wellstone were as far from the center to the left as our current Tea Party nuts are to the right.

But what really got me was that said libertarian friend– an actual PS professor– so strongly endorsed an article that contained this bit:

At this point it might be useful to clarify precisely what the dispute concerns. The question is not whether the federal government should grow. As Reason‘s Nick Gillespie pointed out a few days ago, nearly nobody in Washington has actually proposed shrinking the leviathan. To the contrary, the dispute is whether to raise federal spending from the current $3.8 trillion to $4.7 trillion over the next decade (the Paul Ryan plan)—or to $5.7 trillion (the Obama plan).
Bear in mind that those increases would come on top of one of the fastest expansions of federal spending in U.S. history. When President Obama took office, the budget stood at $2.9 trillion. Two. Point. Nine.

Spending has risen 30 percent in the past three years. It is quite a feat to grow federal spending faster than the Bush administration: Under Bush, domestic discretionary spending rose faster than at any time since the Lyndon Johnson administration.

If Bush floored the accelerator, then Obama lit the afterburners.

Oh, please.  Sure, this should be able to fool your typical not-as-smart-as-he-thinks reader of Reason, but the Poli Sci prof should know better.  First of all, spending is going to grow just because the nation is growing even if government doesn’t really grow at all.  Secondly, a huge portion of this is the rise in health care costs, which Democrats, not Republicans, have actually tried to do something meaningful about.  I would hardly call the government spending 6% more on Medicare in a year due to a 6% increase in medical inflation a huge growth in government.  It’s just the same things, i.e., statins, open heart surgery, and diabetes care, etc., getting more expensive.  Sure, the scope and size of government are related to the amount of money spent, but this is really a poor proxy.  Lastly, a lot of this spending is not a genuinely larger government, but again, short-term spending in response to the tough economy.  Do libertarians truly believe that a doubling of outlays for unemployment benefits in a time of high unemployment actually means the government has gotten “bigger” in any meaningful sense?  Finally, Krugman, recently had a blog post nicely explaining the story of spending vs. GDP.

Extortion politics

In an unprecedented event, WordPress ate my blog posts making fun of libertarians.  Maybe the wordpress bosses are libertarian.  I don’t feel like writing in again.  Instead, just read Steve Benen’s excellent post on how the Republicans have normalized extortion politics:

I think this arguably one of the more important realizations to take away from the current political landscape. Republicans aren’t just radicalized, aren’t just pursuing an extreme agenda, and aren’t just allergic to compromise. The congressional GOP is also changing the very nature of governing in ways with no modern precedent.

Welcome to the normalization of extortion politics…

[I excised the examples, but they’re good]

Republicans effectively tell the administration, over and over again, that the normal system of American governance can continue … just as soon as Democrats agree to policy changes the GOP can’t otherwise pass.

The traditional American model would tell Republicans to win an election. If that doesn’t work, Republicans should work with rivals to pass legislation that moves them closer to their goal. In 2011, the GOP has decided these old-school norms are of no value. Why bother with them when Republicans can force through policy changes by way of a series of hostage strategies? Why should the legislative branch use its powers through legislative action when extortion is more effective?

Republicans aren’t just standing at the next urinal… they’re standing there and peeing on the rest of us.

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