Okay, I know it may seem like there’s very little to be happy about after last Tuesday’s “shellacking” (as President Obama put it) in the polls (which wasn’t nearly as bad as some were predicting), and I too certainly fear for the next two years and all the chaos we are likely to see as this insane group of political neophytes, global warming deniers and corporatist try to destroy Washington from within, but let me share with you some observations before you slip that noose over your head and jump into the pool.
As an unknown comedian once remarked, “My dog chases cars, but he wouldn’t know what to do with it if he caught one.” And such as it is with the Tea Party bomb-throwers of the past two years, who sat on the sidelines and bitched about everything while offering no solutions. NOW they will face the cold hard reality of having to make unpopular decisions while trying to explain to their clueless base why they can’t have both tax cuts and deficit reduction at the same time.
ThinkProgress did a fantastic job (as always) documenting all the Republicans acknowledging that Tuesday’s election was NOT a “mandate”. More a “rejection of Democrats” than an embrace of “Republican policies”:
Why I’m still smiling:
1) Most of the GOP gains were in the House, where every single one of them will be up for reelection in just two years. As radio show host Randi Rhodes pointed out, the economy must grow by 0.5% a year to reduce unemployment by 0.5%. Right now, GDP is 2%, up 0.3% over last year. Even if the economy starts growing like gang-busters (unlikely), unemployment will still be up over 8.5% when all these Republicans are up for reelection in 2012. And either they will extend the Bush Tax Cuts, which will explode the Deficit (the Teanuts favorite pet-peeve) or they will allow the Tax Cuts to expire, which will send the “Taxed Enough Already” crowd into the stratosphere.
2) Extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the Top 2% will cost the country nearly 3/4 of a TRILLION DOLLARS for tax cuts they say will “create jobs”. That $700B in lost tax revenue has to come from SOMEWHERE. Remember that not a single Republican has yet to explain how they would pay for the tax cut. So how much “bang for the buck” do we get for 3/4 of a TRILLION DOLLARS? What would be the cost per job? Even in the Clinton heydays, we still had 4.9% unemployment (roughly 5 million people), so don’t count them in your job creation figures:
As of Friday (11/5/2010), the estimated number of unemployed (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is “14.8 million”. That would take you to ZERO unemployment. Minus 5Mil for a more realistic 4.9%:
$700,000,000,000 / 9,800,000 = $71,428 per job.
…that’s IF you actually believe that extending tax cuts already in place for two more years will reduce unemployment to just 4.9%. (“Brooklyn Bridge. On Sale Now!”)
If you are going to borrow $700B, there are far more effective ways to use that money to stimulate the economy than tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. As I’ve pointed out numerous times before: the Bush Tax Cuts are ALREADY in effect NOW and have been since 2002, resulting in the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover. Yet I never hear anyone ask, “why do you think it will be any different this time around?” 4.9% employment simply by extending the Bush Tax Cuts another year or two? Dream on. Keep in mind that “$700Billion dollars” is exactly the same cost as Bush’s TARP bailout of Wall Street that put Teabaggers in a tizzy over the size of the Deficit. ANY TEABAGGER OUT THERE READING THIS, PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME HOW GIVING $700B TO BAIL OUT WALL STREET IS BAD, BUT GIVING THOSE SAME PEOPLE $700B IN TAX CUTS IS GOOD??? I’m dying for someone to explain THAT one to me.
- An 18-month supply of gasoline for every adult in America (300 billion gallons at $2.50/gal).
- Buy 7 Mac laptops for every school-age child in the U.S..
- Reimburse banks, home owners, and local governments for nearly 9 million foreclosures. Or prevent over 200 million foreclosures (currently, roughly SEVEN million homes are facing foreclosure.)
- Rebuild Katrina-ravished New Orleans and Gulf Coast … three and a half times over.
- Send 5.4 million students to a public university.
- Purchase health care for 51.6 million people for four years.
- Hire 2.9 million elementary school teachers for four years.
3) Only 45 of 140 Tea Party candidates who ran, won. Think of all the Palin-endorsed candidates that lost: Sharron Angle (NV), Ken Buck (CO), Christine O’Donnell (DE), Joe Miller (AK), John Raese (WV), Carl Paladino (NY), Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman (CA) to name a few. Not only did they all lose, they lost big. And many of them defeated “establishment” Republicans in the primaries that had a better chance of winning in the General, sparking a Civil War inside the Republican Party that threatens to split Conservatives for years to come.
As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out, only 4 of the 80 members of the “Progressive Caucus” were kicked out, while 24 of the 53 members of the Conservative “Blue Dog (Democrat) caucus” were voted out. Half of the Democrats who voted against Health Care Reform were voted out. Where Democrats showed up, Democrats won. Only 20% of young voters bothered to turn out for the mid-terms. Young voters typically only pay attention or bother to vote en masse in Presidential Election years, of which 2012 will be.
4) In-fighting between the Teabagers and the rank & file GOP has already begun. If Sarah Palin is the Teanut Queen, then Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is unquestionably the Teanut Dutchess. During the Primaries, Bachmann vowed to lead the new “Tea Party Caucus” with the stated goals of “cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and “making sure Republicans don’t pass anything ‘unconstitutional’” (and you thought that was the Supreme Court’s job.) But as soon as the election was over, Bachmann’s “Tea Party Caucus” was no longer a “check on the GOP” but instead suggested it would be “just complementary” to the Republican caucus, comparing the Tea Party caucus she invented to “the shellfish caucus, the potato caucus, the missile defense caucus”. Or, in other words, Just another special interest group within the GOP. (Are we sure she said “shell-fish” and not “selfish”?)
And her doppleganger in the Senate, Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), though incredibly popular among the Tea Party crowd, is fast becoming a pariah within the GOP, seen as likely costing the GOP control of the Senate through his virulent support of unqualified candidates such as Christine O’Donnell over the establishment candidate they believe would of taken Delaware away from the Democrats.
5) Despite a 60-vote majority in the House, Republicans still will not have enough votes to override a presidential veto. And think of all the Republicans threatening to “shutdown the government” if they don’t get their way next year. How do you think all those Teanuts complaining about how “nothing ever seems to get done” are going to like it when government offices start shutting down across the country they way they did after “the Gingrich congress” shutdown the government in 1995 (leading to a huge reelection victory for Bill Clinton in 1996)?
ThinkProgress does a great job of explaining what the consequences would be if Republicans force another shutdown of the government, or (worse) fail to pass another budget while refusing to raise the Debt Ceiling (can you say Worldwide financial panic and higher deficits?)
The stock market went up only 6 points on Election Day, and a mere 26 points after we learned the results of the election the next day, depriving the Right of claiming “Wall Street approves of the GOP tidal-wave”. The Market DID jump 220 points two days later when the Federal Reserve announced it plans to buy up a lot of debt early next year specifically “to raise stock prices” and “reduce long-term interest rates”. The last time the DOW was this high was Sept. 8, 2008… before the collapse of investment firm Lehman Brothers. The Dow was at 8279.63 points the day President Obama took office on 1/20/09. Friday, the DOW closed up over 11,400 points (well over 3,000 points in less than two years) and the latest Jobs Report just revealed that the United States economy added 151,000 jobs in October (you need at least 110,000 new jobs each month just to break even).
6) Another shot at “the Public Option”. After complaining that the Obama Administration “wasted two years focusing on health care reform instead of jobs”, future House Majority Leader Boehner said “repealing ObamaCare” would be “a top priority”. The incoming Republican Congress campaigned heavily on “repealing ObamaCare” despite the fact that only 18% of Republican voters cited health care reform (HCR) as the most important issue facing the country. Their lead concern? 62% cited “the economy”. The greatest problem most Republican voters have with HCR is the “mandate”… which candidate Obama campaigned against anyway (criticizing Hillary’s “mandate” solution by saying “you could cure homelessness too by “mandating” everyone buy a home.”) What we ended up with instead was craptastic “RomneyCare”. Rewriting “ObamaCare” to get rid of the Mandate might actually put us back on the fast track to The Public Option… so long as they don’t call it “The Public Option”. Simply offer to “open up MediCare to anyone who wants to buy in”, selling it with “no mandate and no new bureaucracy”. I can ASSURE you, it would be MUCH harder to rally a majority of Teabaggers to oppose HCR if you promote it that way (I’ve often repeated my own experience of confronting a Teanut during a 2009 “Town Hall” who asked me why Obama didn’t do exactly that.)
7) While precious time will be lost tackling Climate Change, possibly even giving other nations a huge head-start in the new “Green Jobs Economy”, Conservative Climate Change deniers are vowing to “finally hold hearings” with the goal of “debunking Global Warming hysteria”. The end result of months of high-profile and very public hearings on the subject could, once-and-for-all, settle the Climate Change debate for a majority of Americans (there will always be some zealots who will deny anything that doesn’t comport with their ideology), expose the deniers for the Ludites they are, and *finally* convince the majority of Americans that Climate Change is real and is something we need to be addressing now.
8) The Lame-Duck session is likely to move quickly on a host of issues that were going nowhere before the election. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” finally fairs an excellent chance of being repealed… not years from now… but next month, as Democrats figure out that “it’s now or never”. Democrats may also push for some infrastructure spending before Republicans gut the budget. Put some people on the payroll and dare Republicans to fire them in their zeal to “cut Federal spending”.
9) Ditto on reforming the Filibuster. Now that the GOP minority in the Senate will be even bigger, Democrats will have no better time to finally reform the filibuster and avoid absolute gridlock in the coming session. (A long-shot, I know. But they have to at least try, because if you thought it was abused before, just wait until next year.)
10) And most obviously: if the incoming “Just Say NO” caucus continues to obstruct everything, they will have NO achievements to run on in 2012. Bye-bye Teabaggers.
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