Monday, May 21, 2012

Are Republicans intentionally sabotaging the economy?

That's the question asked by the AP's Charles Babington, who writes that top Democrats believe House Speaker John Boehner's saber rattling on the debt last week has a purpose: to cause economic anxiety and stall growth in advance of November's election.

Among those Democrats is N.Y. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who said in a statement: "The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy."

That "debacle" was the parties' inability to agree on anything regarding the debt - other than to punt it to a supercommittee that also couldn't come up with an agreement. The result: a hit to the country's credit rating, plus looming Draconian cuts set to trigger in January.

Those cuts are prompting this early rush to capture a new debt narrative with the election approaching. For Republicans, led by Boehner, that means announcing that this time, there will be no raising the debt ceiling without "dramatic steps" to reduce spending.

Boehner again isn't publicly entertaining the possibility of revenue increases/taxes to go with those spending cuts - a curious strategy given that last summer, Americans were largely scornful of the GOP's stubborn resistance to a debt plan that included both. (Americans also weren't terribly pleased that President Obama eventually chose to tsk-tsk both sides of the debt debate, rather than take the political risk of leading them toward a consensus.)

But is Boehner's new posturing an attempt to slow the fragile but growing economy? (It's not the first time one party has accused the other of fiscal sabotage.) Boehner says no, but it certainly won't calm the anxiety businesses are already feeling about our shaky economic landscape. The Washington Post reported last week that firms, hospitals and contractors already are delaying hiring and readying for cuts if Congress can't resolve debt, cuts and tax issues by January.

At the least, Boehner's remarks and the Democratic response add to the overwrought, unproductive political theatre we see from both sides, on most every issue, in what's become a perpetual election season.

38 comments:

Karl said...

Nice try Observer. Typical leftist slant.

Democrats had a super-majority for over 2 years and did not focus in on the economy. Since 2010, the Republicans took over the House but the WH and Senate are still controlled by the Left.

Your statement is akin to Republicans blocking Obama's budget bill. But we all know the facts: The House turned it down 414-0 and the Senate most recently, voted it 99-0.

So, NOT ONE Congressman supported his proposed budget bill. But I'm sure you'd still try and make it seem like Republicans blocked it from passing...

Your paper is laughable in its obvious bias. Pathetic a city the size of Charlotte has put up with such partisan dribble.

Clay said...

Of course the Republicans are doing that, and the Democrats would do the same thing if the situation was reversed.

It's called politics. One party is just as bad as the other when it comes to tactics.

Archiguy said...

Nice try Karl, but you're only preaching to your own choir. The constant drumbeat of "liberal bias" in any newspaper or other public affairs organization that dares not cheerlead for official conservative causes is beyond tiresome at this point.

It's not enough to be even-handed in its reporting and analysis of the news, as the Observer and most other newspapers staffed by professional journalists tries to do. The "middle" of the political road has been recalibrated so far to the right by the Right Wing Echo Chamber that even organizations whose charge it is to be nonbiased, such as NPR, get branded with the "liberal" moniker by those who seek homogenization of the entire media landscape - Rupert Murdoch's wet dream.

So pay no attention to those who want to see the entire news media reduced to FOX News-like gladhanding for Republicans and conservative causes. They can no longer tell which end is up, or which direction is right. To them, they all are - or they better be! It's the viewpoint of petulant children.

Tim said...

why do the Observer columnists try to take such serious looking profile pictures on the right side column, yet nothing they publish do I take serious...get over yourselves guys

kantstanzya said...

The left is getting increasingly desperate. One storyline more pathetic than the next. And the Observer dutifully prints every one of them.

Unless the GOP unquestioningly continues to go along with the uncontrolled spending of Obama that means they are sabotaging the economy?

Anyway please get your story straight...According to the latest Obama ads the economy is making a recovery and he has rescued us from the brink of disaster. Which is it?

Clay said...

Tim, your comment has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this article.

Why would you possibly take the time to read and comment on any thing written by people who in your words, "yet nothing they publish do I take serious..."

Take your own advice, get over yourself.

27d0a8ac-2523-11e1-aeb2-000bcdcb2996 said...

Thanks for the laugh, Archiguy. If you consider GPR (Gay Public Radio)non-biased (despite the supposed requirement of its charter), I've got a bridge to sell you. The Dimos are doing nothing but destroying this economy, and have institutionalized trillion dollar deficits, which will if unabated via elections this November, lead to national bankruptcy. Period.

Fire Coach K said...

The GOP tactic of obstructing all economic progress and then bemoaning the amount of economic progress is almost as transparent as their tactic of deriding Obama as a socialist, a Marxist, a Kenyan, a Muslim, a madrassa-educated jihadist, a black supremacist, a homosexual and LITERALLY the Antichrist ... then shrieking that he's too divisive. Really? Golly, I wonder why America isn't unified into one big Kumbaya circle. Do you think maybe a four-year-long nonstop stream of nonsensical lies spewing from the radical right wing has contributed to that?

Anyway, I get a kick out of wingnuts like kantstanzya griping about the "uncontrolled spending of Obama." Sorry, but the vast majority of our debt is directly due to Bush's two unfunded wars of choice, Bush's Medicare Part D giveaway to Big Pharma, the economic downturn that began under Bush and most of all Bush's ridiculous tax cuts for the super-wealthy elites. That's not finger-pointing; that's just a fact, whether you like it or not. The GOP acts like we magically stopped paying for all of it the instant that fake cowboy sashayed out of the Oval Office.

Bottom line, the GOP took a prolonged poop on America for eight long years, and now they're crying that the rest of us haven't cleaned it up fast enough. Oh, well, excuse us. Let's just cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy again, because that has worked so well for the past decade.

Not_a_hypocrit said...

It is so sad that a city the size of Charlotte has to suffer the plight of not having a decent newspaper. Even if you discount any bias, which I don't think you can, the CO looks like it was published by a high school journalism class. Come on Charlotte, demand a quality newspaper. You will never earn that World Class city status with the Charlotte observer being your local voice in newsprint.

J said...

I am quite mystified. You folks on the CO editorial board are not stupid people. The President and the Democrats in Congress are not stupid people. So why do you all completely miss the boat on this?

INCREASING TAX RATES DECREASES TAX REVENUE!

It's extremely basic economics. When you increase tax rates on anything, people will change their behavior so as not to cross the threshold of the higher tax rate. On the other hand, decreasing tax rates for everyone - including the "rich" people you hate so much - gives everyone more money in their pocket. The working class and middle class are most likely to spend that extra money, and since consumer spending accounts for 70% of US economic activity, the economy expands. The "rich," as you call anyone with an income over $250k, are often small business owners. When they know they have lower tax rates, they are more likely to put money back into their businesses - you know, like, hiring more people. They'll invest (hire) even more if they know they won't be choked by oppressive regulations that require them to fill out 100 pages of government forms for every move they make.

So, tax rate CUTS, for EVERYONE, including the "rich" you hate so much, will increase tax revenue and economic activity. If one of your liberal heroes, JFK, could understand this and cut taxes, why can't liberals understand it today?

Also, proving that there is a liberal slant at the CO, you rarely mention in economic articles and opinions that more than 5 million people have dropped out of the workforce - in other words, stopped looking for work completely - and thus are not counted in the 8% unemployment rate. If those 5M people were looking for work, the unemployment rate would be over 10%. The Republicans are not sabotaging the economic recovery. There is barely any recovery to sabotage. But, since 90% of the people producing information from the 3 biggest networks and the 50 largest newspapers are openly cheering for Obama to be reelected - including the entire Observer editorial board - you'll continue to report the economy is booming, save for those evil Republicans trying to sabotage it.

J said...

Fire Coach K - you are mostly mistaken. Yes, Medicare Part D was Bush's big edition to the deficit. But in case you missed the news, the Iraq war is over and the Aghan war soon will be. President Obama has incurred more debt than Presidents Washington through Clinton combined. The $800 billion "stimulus" has not created any jobs. It has funded projects like repairing the welcome center to a national park that has been closed for years, and giving money to a Georgia Tech music teacher so he could jam with other musicians for a year. The Obama administration policy is basically that once you lose your job, you can stay on unemployment and food stamps for life if you so choose. An Atlanta TV station has been investigating rampant food stamp fraud, specifically EBT card transactions at liquor stores.

Yes, Bush spent way too much, and by the time he left office even most of us Republicans didn't like him. But to use the tired, old "every problem in the world in 2012 is Bush's fault" argument is ridiculous.

Ghoul said...

I have a serious question for Fire Coach K:


Was WWII a war of choice?

Fire Coach K said...

J, you can repeat that right-wing wet dream all you want. Type it out in all caps. Scream it from your rooftop. None of it will make it true, and if you feel it's "extremely basic economics," that merely shows that you're no economist. If your simplistic little fairy tale were true, we could just cut taxes to 0% and voila, we'd live in utopia. Think that would be a swell idea?

For that matter, how have the Bush tax cuts worked out? I'll tell you how they've worked out: They've added $2 trillion to the national debt. So where are the jobs that the wonderful job creators would supposedly bestow upon us, if only we gave them gigantic tax cuts?

Also, not to nit-pick one minor detail in your deluge of B.S., but you falsely claim that those with incomes above $250K are "often" small business owners. In point of fact, fewer than 3 percent of the 20 million people who file business income on their personal tax forms earn that much.

Fire Coach K said...

Ghoul, are you seriously comparing World War II -- in which we were bombed by Japan, and in which Germany was exterminating Jews by the millions (although, granted, we didn't really know about the latter at the outset of the war) -- with our Iraq and Afghanistan catastrophes?

If so ... wow. Just wow. Allow me to answer that ridiculous question with several questions: Was Iraq involved in 9/11? Did Iraq have WMD? Was our Iraq misadventure paid for with the oil revenue, as we were promised it would be? Given that Afghanistan is likely to fall into civil war shortly after we leave, was it worth the lives we lost and the billions that we spent there?

Fire Coach K said...

"But in case you missed the news, the Iraq war is over and the Aghan war soon will be"

No ****, Sherlock. Guess what -- we didn't stop paying for those wars the minute Bush left office.

You're intentionally conflating the concepts of "Obama's spending" and "Bush policies that we continue to pay for to this day."

And if you think "food stamp fraud" put us where we are today, you are delusional. Is food stamp fraud good? No, but is there TRILLIONS of dollars in food stamp fraud? Not even close. Iraq war, Afghanistan war, Medicare Part D, Bush tax cuts ... every last one of those added trillions to the debt, and you're griping about EBT transactions at liquor stores?

On second thought, I shouldn't be surprised. To the GOP, the words "food stamps" are code for "lazy black people," and you desperately wish lazy black people put us in this mess rather than money-grubbing, war-mongering white Republicans.

J said...

Fire Coach K - deluge of BS? As you are obviously of a more liberal view, you should do a little more fact checking. It is a fact that while JFK was President, he initiated a broad tax rate reduction, and the economy expanded as a result. Those were rolled back during the Carter years, and we had the only recession that was anywhere near as bad as the one we're still trying to come out of. President Reagan repeated the tax rate reduction, and the economy expanded quite rapidly from 1983 through the end of his term. Even Bill CLinton, who was no fan of lower taxes, at least enacted Welfare reform and reduced the size of government. His economy was successful as well.

Actually, you have a fantastic point about reducing the tax rate to 0. That's exactly what the Fair Tax Act would do - completely eliminate taxation of income, abolish the IRS, and repeal the 16th Amendment and once again make it unconstitutional to tax income at all. The replacement is taxing consumption instead of income. The House bill is H.R. 25 if you want to look it up.

And speaking of a deluge of BS, that's exactly what the concept of raising taxes on "the 1%" to eliminate the deficit is. Here's some basic math - the Buffet Rule would add enough tax revenue to fund the federal government for 8 months. That's not reducing any deficit; that's just funding the government for 8 months. And that's also assuming the people that get hit with that tax won't change their behavior, which they will. They will invest in international companies and stash enough money overseas to avoid the Buffet tax. You accuse me of not being a very good economist, but in reality it is the knuckleheads at the Congressional Budget Office who aren't very good economists. It is absolutely stupid to assume that if you raise taxes on anyone or anything, that those subject to the tax will sit there and do nothing and just pay the tax.

You may think I'm a blithering idiot, and that's fine. But check out history and you will see I'm not as stupid as you think. And the politicians in Washington would do well to do the same, rather than just sit there and scream "INCREASE TAXES ON THE RICH AND EVERY PROBLEM DISAPPEARS!" because that just isn't reality.

CRH said...

The debt ceiling is all Boehner has to bargain with. The GOP is up to their noses in failed policies and lost opportunities and they have to be able to convince their donors that they still have influence or they'll be dead in the water. They're also about to lose the 2012 election and they know it. If they could scuttle this ship and blame it on the Democrats with a failure to extend debt ceiling, they would. It is pure desperation at this point.

CRH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Party before Country.

Fire Coach K said...

J, if your goal is to turn America into an oligarchy, the so-called Fair Tax is a splendid way to go about it. The top 1% of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year (25 years ago, it was 12%). In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1% control 40% (25 years ago, it was 33%). While the top 1% have seen their incomes rise 18% over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes decrease. Seeing all of this, your suggestion is to shift more of the tax burden to the middle and lower class via an enormously regressive "fair" tax?

Also, surely a student of history such of yourself understands that the economic and financial conditions of 30 years ago were vastly different from what we’re seeing today. The economic expansion of the 1980s was fueled by a combination of, yes, tax cuts … but also falling inflation and lower interest rates. OK, so let's compare and contrast.

Thirty years ago, inflation was through the roof (e.g., 13.3% in 1979, and 12.5% in 1980), the federal funds rate was above 14 percent and the top tax rate was 70 percent (which Reagan’s tax cut lowered to 50%).

Well, today, inflation is nonexistent and the federal funds rate is close to zero, so Fed policy is constrained in ways it was not in the early 1980s. Plus, income tax rates are at historical lows (the top tax rate is 35% and revenues are at a 60-year low of 15 percent GDP vs. 19.6% in 1981, and vs. a post-WWII average of about 18.5%) and bracket creep isn’t really an issue.

The GOP wants to blithely disregard those realities and take a cookie-cutter approach of tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, even though we just witnessed the abject failure of the Bush tax cuts. It's crass and it fails to acknowledge that we are no longer living in 1980. But bleating mindlessly about Reagan and tax cuts sure sounds good on the stump.

CarolinaDrums said...

CO: You should have titled this "Babington's babbling" since it's obviously silly, almost comical, nonsense.

DMorrisPE said...

At least the GOP is attempting to stick to the promises they made to the constituents when the were elected. That's the REAL problem - the folks back home are hammering anyone who doesn't hold to their campaign promises, especially the "important" ones, like budgets, debt, jobs, etc.

Ghoul said...

Fire Coach K,


Why yes I am making a strong parallel between WWII and these wars. Did you know we were attacked in NY, PA, and DC? This was with the full backing and support of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Are you really calling this a war of choice? I guess we should have just let that go, right?

Oh, and I guess you disagree with us stopping a dictator invading his neighbors and killing hundreds of thousands of his own people?

Fire Coach K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fire Coach K said...

Well, guess what -- the Taliban is still strong in Afghanistan, Karzai's government is inept, corrupt and hopelessly unstable, and now that we've declared ... ahem ... victory and decided (wisely) to get out, the country is destined to plunge into civil war. So we accomplished what, exactly, that was worth the lives we lost and the God knows how much money was spent?

And yes, I certainly DO disagree with us going into Iraq, as do most rational people. First we were told it was about 9/11. Oops, nope, turned out they weren't involved in 9/11. Then it was about WMD, and not wanting the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. Oops, turned out they had no WMD. Well, then, let's say it was about our deep, moral outrage at Saddam gassing the Kurds. Yeah, that's the ticket. In no way, shape or form was that worth the trillions of taxpayer dollars nor the thousands of U.S. lives (not to mention the 100,000 or so dead Iraqis).

Wiley Coyote said...

...wait....how many days has it been since Democrats submitted a budget?

Fire Coach K said...

I want to reiterate this, because it's an important point: federal revenues are at a 60-year low of 15% of GDP. This is in the aftermath of the Bush tax cuts, which have been in effect for more than a decade now.

J said, "So, tax rate CUTS, for EVERYONE, including the "rich" you hate so much, will increase tax revenue and economic activity."

Well, the Bush tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the wealthy (i.e., the glorious "jon creators"). Where are the jobs? And again, why are federal revenues at a 60-year low?

By J's logic, federal revenues should have increased. Why in the world should we double down with MORE tax cuts on the ultra-wealthy, if the ones that have been in place for 10 years haven't created jobs, haven't bolstered federal revenues and have added nearly $2 trillion to the debt?

And how in the world can GOP candidates and GOP voters continue to pontificate about Reagan and about the silver-bullet wonders of tax cuts, when they so clearly do not understand the differences between the U.S. economies in 1980 vs. 2012?

Skippy said...

Would we even be having discussion which is just another liberal distraction from the disaster in the White House if President Coward did not ignore his own debt committees advice?

grizzy4884 said...

Huh? At least FOX doesn't hide who they are. The Observer does attempt to. Have you not noticed they are all Democrats? Have you not noticed whom they support during elections? For Example, where is their Coverage of Fast & Furious?

cooldela1966 said...

Yes they are.

However, Obama has sabatoged the economy already there is nothing left for the Republicans.

What is that old saying about beating a dead horse?

Obama outmaneuvered the Republicans on this one so that they have nothing left to drag down. Smart move on Obama's part but no so good for the working families.

But that's politics.

Ron White 47 said...

Oh my GOD. Really, "editorial" board? There is jumping the shark and then there is outright campaigning for a party. You should be ashamed and have any "journalist" credentials removed. Absolutely pathetic.

Reggie Mantle said...

The House Majority Leader is Eric Cantor.

John Boehner is the Speaker of the House.

J.S. Callahan said...

I am a software and electronics engineer of 20 years and small business owner in Morganton , N.C. In your recent article “Is GOP trying to sabotage economy to hurt Obama?” it was mentioned that “GOP lawmakers want Congress to act this year to ensure that none of the Bush-era income tax cuts will expire, as scheduled, on Jan. 1. Such assurance, they say, could lead investors and business owners to start expanding and hiring now.”


As a small high-tech business owner , I could not disagree more with that position. A political position that placates to the largest and wealthiest of businesses in our nation yet seems to ignore many of the needs of the small business owners in N.C. and other states is the last thing that we need for job creation in this nation. The Obama administration has allowed for patent reform that makes it easier for small businesses like mine to compete, they have passed tax cuts and have more on the table that will make it easier for small businesses to survive, and they know where the real backbone is in this nation for job creation. That backbone -is- the small business, and not the mega corporations that the GOP want to favor with tax cuts and other incentives.


In fact, Apple and Microsoft started in little more than garage labs. I find it sad that so many high profile figures in the GOP fail to realize and acknowledge this simple historical fact. The real power of the American economy is indeed -not- lodged in the major corporations despite such rhetoric. The power of the U.S. Economy always has relied on the individual innovations generated by small businesses and the jobs that we create. Small businesses in the USA produce jobs , in total , eclipsing any “favored” corporations job-creation ability hands-down. We don't need a government that rewards bloated corporate control of markets. We need leaders that inspire innovation and awards them for it on the small business level , not one that seems to conveniently forget where their darling mega-corporations actually came from to begin with.


Mitt Romney represents the big business despite any of his election-specific promises. One only has to look at his own business practice track record to see this clearly. President Obama is the best candidate for small business to prosper in this country. The President has the best interest of small business in mind and is actively reforming the corporation-centric mess that has plagued our economy now for decades stifling our small business innovators. It is very reckless to think , under any circumstances, that electing a mega-millionaire corporate CEO as President of the United States like Mitt Romney will help small businesses at all. He has demonstrated far more experience in acquiring and liquidating small businesses than helping them.

BiBr said...

This article sounds like a desperate last gasp by a desperate party.

cooldela1966 said...

If the Republicans are sabatoging the economy then why don't the Dems to the exact opposite of the Republicans and fix the economy?

But if the Dems cannot fix the economy and it seems apparent that they cannot, then we must give the Republicans the opportunity to fix it. I mean, hey, the Republicans know how to sabatoge the economy so they must know how to fix the economy.

So let's all get on board and give the Republicans a chance.

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