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Everyone has been obsessed this past week watching the slow-moving train wreck that is Charlie Sheen. I bring this up for one reason and one reason only. If you’ve ever watched his show, you might have noticed these white screens of text that appear just for a split second immediately following the credits. If you are quick on the pause button or (like me) can record the credits portion of the show on your computer to then go back and read them, what you will find are short “ruminations” by the shows producer: Chuck Lorre. The screens are called “Vanity Cards” and there are places online where you can read them. Some are funny, some provide additional information about the episode you just watched, and some are just ponderings. One such Vanity Card caught my attention:
 

Two and a Half Men - #135

 

On Fox, this is what is called “Fair & Balanced”. They create a story based upon no confirmable “facts” but instead, on pure “speculation”, from which they draw conclusions. And when your premise is wrong, so are any conclusions you draw from it. Case in point:

(Editors Note: I feel the need to point out here that… and I hate doing this… this Op/Ed is a “debunking” of a Talking Point that doesn’t exist… yet, though I know it’s on it’s way. I searched around online and did not find any mainstream news sites making the following claim, but I’m certain it has crossed other peoples’ minds as well. If I’ve thought of it, I know others have too. It’s coming folks, so consider this a bit of “preemptive myth-busting”. – Mugsy)

Last October just before Republicans made their gains in the House and Senate, the unemployment rate was 9.6%… unchanged from the month before, but rising to 9.8% in November. By the end of December, the unemployment rate had fallen to 9.4%… BEFORE the newly elected Republican majority had retaken the House, and by January, the rate had fallen still further to 9.0%. This past week revealed unemployment had fallen once more to “8.9% for February”. If I were a Republican, I might be trying to claim credit for the steady decline in unemployment these past few months. But would it be justified?

One of the most difficult problems when assessing blame/credit with political opponents for anything economic, is separating fact from fiction… or, in other words, being able to distinguish between actual legislative actions and mere “coincidence”. Case in point: Who deserved credit for the Balanced Budgets at the end of Clinton’s presidency when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress? Okay then, who deserves “blame” for the Recession George Bush and the Republicans claim they inherited? Hmmm?

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Minnesota Congresswoman Princess Spins-alot Bachmann bemoaned that “the price of gasoline was only $1.87/gallon when President Bush (Dubya, not Pappy) left office (actually, gas was under $1.90/gal in November of ’08. By January, it was already back on the rise).” Yes, but a mere six months earlier, gas prices peaked at just over $4/gal after a steady four year climb. Does Bush deserve credit for that too? Or are Democrats to blame? (and as a matter of fact, Bachmann DID blame Democrats at the time.) If Democrats are to blame for gas hitting $4 in July of 2008, then wouldn’t those SAME Democrats deserve credit for it getting down to “$1.87” the following January? So which is it Congresswoman? And let us not forget that gasoline was only $1.49 the day George Bush took control of the White House with a Republican controlled Congress (not to mention a Balanced Budget, projected Surplus and only $5T in Debt.) And if Democrats were to blame for $4 gas because they were in control of Congress at the time, do we blame Republicans when it hits $4 this time around?

Anyway, back to the Unemployment Rate.

I think the reason no one on the Right has yet tried to take credit for falling unemployment since the 2010 election is because, when asked for a reason, they’d be hard pressed to come up with one. Republicans have done NOTHING with regard to jobs since retaking the House. And their one big “policy achievement”… extending the Bush Tax Cuts… the only difference between the Democrats plan and the Republicans was including that tiny “2%” sliver at the very top, who won’t even receive their benefit until after tax time this April. Meanwhile, the Obama Tax Cut included a payroll tax cut for millions upon millions of working Americans that went into effect immediately.

And how does the election of a Republican Congress in November, with control of only half of Congress since January, account for TWELVE STRAIGHT MONTHS of private sector job growth? I just don’t see Republicans having answers to those questions. Is it any surprise Mike Huck-a-baby, in his own Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown moment, would rather focus on Natalie Portman’s “out of wedlock pregnancy” (while defending both Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears when they got pregnant out of wedlock), or Mitt “tied dog to the roof” Romney would rather focus on blasting “ObamaCare” for mandating health insurance at the Federal level vs. his own “RomneyCare”, which mandated health insurance at the state level. A huge difference, I know.

For the past month, and until the Debt Ceiling is eventually raised later this month, all you can expect to hear from Republicans on the economy ISN’T how they intend to create jobs, but how we need to “cut spending”, and how doing so “will create jobs”… just don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to explain just how reducing the Deficit creates jobs, because you’ll suffocate long before it happens (the closest thing I heard to an answer was Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Douchnozzle) saying it will relieve rich people of the fear that we’re coming after them for the money. Thus, unburdened by that paralyzing fear, the rich will start spending & hiring the country back to prosperity. Sounds like a sure-fire plan worthy of $858 Billion in tax cuts to me, how about you?)

I came up with a good metaphor about a year ago that many say explains the current economic crisis well: Republicans have spent the last 30 years buying expensive lunches and putting them on the National Credit Card. And now that Democrats want to spend money on a new kitchen so we can make our own lunches and save a ton of money later, Republicans are screaming about “fiscally irresponsible Democrats”. Hello? Not all spending is the same, folks. Conservatives don’t get that. And right now, the two sides are arguing over the cost of the kitchen.

BTW: Are you as DISGUSTED as I am every time a Republican and a Democrat on the same TV program… like Dick Durbin and Jeb Hensarling were on Fox yesterday, when the Republican starts criticizing Democrats for their lack of “fiscal responsibility”… as Jeb Hensarling did on Fox yesterday, the Democrat NEVER asks, “Where were you when George Bush added Six Trillion dollars to the national debt?”… like Dick Durbin failed to do on Fox yesterday.
 


 

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