Friday, August 26, 2011

GOP Treats Americans 'Pretty Ugly,' Tanking Economy to Derail Obama

Republicans rabidly dedicated to destroying Barack Obama's Presidency have focused on destroying the American economy as the means to that end. To Republicans, Americans struggling through the de facto depression were just collateral damage that, Republicans hoped, could be persuaded to blame Obama for the GOP's America-busting, catapulting a square-jawed Caucasian populist plutocrat-coddler from Texas back into the White House.

Destroying the American economy was a pretty easy reach for Republicans, as they'd been working on it for thirty years, and had pretty much brainwashed most everyone with their incessant twin mantras, tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for everyone else, along with a healthy dose of busting unions.

At the Federal Reserve Bank's annual get-together in Jackson Hole, WY, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke Friday virtually sputtered in exasperation over the repeated hostage-taking and brinkspersonship Republicans had subjected the world to all year.

"The negotiations that took place over the summer disrupted the financial markets and probably the economy as well," Bernanke said in what amounted to a hysterical screaming tirade for a staid, non-partisan Fed chairman.

Republicans had unconscionably taken hostage the normally pro-forma raising of the nation's debt ceiling to extort political concessions they could never have extracted through normal legislative processes. The GOP forced Americans and the world to endure trillions in egregious spending cuts in a dicey economy, when governments, as the consumer of last resort, should've been increasing spending to stimulate the economy, not slashing spending to further depress the economy.

"Although the issue of fiscal sustainability must urgently be addressed, fiscal policy makers should not, as a consequence, disregard the fragility of the current economic recovery," said Bernanke, a scholar of the Great Depression who understood the value of government spending to haul a moribund economy up by its bootstraps.

The populist Texan surging to the head of the GOP presidential pack, Gov. Rick Perry, doubtless sneered. He'd already intimated that Bernanke was slated to be his guest of honor at a Texas necktie party, saying that if the Fed chairman visited his state, "we would treat him pretty ugly."

Which doubtless discouraged Bernanke from unleashing another round of quantitative easing, Fed-speak for buying up a batch of America's long-term debt to ease borrowing costs. The economy was one thing, but getting a neck massage from a bunch of yahoos in cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats was quite another.

Nonetheless, Bernanke told everyone the Fed's September meet would be stretched from one day to two if the economy hadn't picked up, and all involved would reconsider the situation, lynchings and cross-burnings notwithstanding.

All of which spotlighted Republicans' single-minded determination to destroy the Obama Presidency at any cost. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised, holding Obama to a single term was the Republicans' top priority, and the best way to hold Obama to a single term was to make sure the economy Republicans and George W. Bush tanked, stayed tanked.

Republicans, by controlling the House of Representative, could pretty much sabotage any effort to nurture a nascent recovery by hostage-taking, demagoguery, and generally screaming threats to pull the pin and drop the grenade, but they couldn't control the Federal Reserve Bank, which had always been a bastion of economic independence.

Hence, Perry's leering and waving his length of lariat while his sycophants jeered and hooted in the background.

"Most of the economic policies that support economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank," Bernanke said. He dared to add, "Our nation's tax and spending policies should increase incentives to work and to save, encourage investments in the skills of our workforce, stimulate private capital formation, promote research and development, and provide necessary public infrastructure."

Republicans, angling to destroy the American economy, focused on plutocrat-coddling tax subsidies incenting offshoring and outsourcing, slashing education funding, dismantling research, discrediting science, and ignoring the $2 trillion in infrastructure repairs the nation desperately needed.

In fact, the only tax breaks Republicans were interested in were those favoring their ultra-wealthy patrons.

Republicans were vehemently opposed to extending the 2% payroll tax holiday American wage earners were getting, as it only helped put money in middle-class pockets, and helped to stimulate the very economy Republicans wanted to keep depressed. The payroll tax on American paychecks was 4.2%, slated to revert to 6.2% at the end of 2011.

Obama wanted to extend the 2% holiday, but Republicans were opposed to the extension. For the holidays, Republicans wanted to cancel the holiday.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), one of the Republicans anointed for the upcoming budget-slashing Super Committee, told the Associated Press, "not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again."  Hensarling was right, as a payroll tax holiday putting more money into the hands of working Americans, who tended to immediately spend the extra cash on groceries and school supplies and clothes for the kids and such, was a much better economic stimulant than all the tax breaks, tax cuts and tax subsidies Republicans lavished on their wealthy cronies and patrons, which tended to get funnelled into arcane financial instruments where the money sat and rotted for all eternity.

Which, of course, was why Hensarling opposed the payroll tax holiday. Which, of course, was why Republicans in general opposed the middle class payroll tax holiday. The payroll tax holiday only applied to the first $106,000 anybody made, obviously useless to the billionaires Republicans focused their coddling on.

"If the goal is job creation, Leader (Eric) Cantor (R-VA) has long believed that there are better ways to grow the economy and create jobs than temporary payroll tax relief," Cantor's spokesperson Brad Dayspring told the New York Times.

The "better ways" doubtless meant more tax cuts, breaks and subsidies for corporations and the ultra-rich, and the "jobs" doubtless would all be in China, as thirty years of Republican voodoo trickle-down supply side balderdash has proven.

Whatever Obama proposed to help the American economy along, be it payroll tax holiday or infrastructure spending, Republicans aimed to shoot down. The economy in shambles, Republicans prepared to stir up the rubes with snide intimations that a snotty person of color had caused the morass, and all would be made better by replacing him with a square-jawed white man who spoke about Jesus in a comforting drawl. The economy in shambles, all would be made better by deferring to the billionaires and trans-national corporations that had already plundered the nation and moved all its jobs to China and India.

Then, with Perry or some other square-jawed GOP Christian in the White House, Republicans could get on with the last item on their check list, plundering all the money in Social Security and Medicare.

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