Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paul Ryan's *Magic Asterisks*: Krugman Nails GOP Fiscal Phonies

AMERICA'S SMARTEST ECONOMIST, PAUL KRUGMAN, COINS THE PERFECT term for the Ryan 'Budget': "[O]nce you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” — claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify — what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt." (According to Lady Alex, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have genuine affection for each other; I don't know how she can tell, but to ascribe such emotions to the Romney-Ryan relationship, considering the savagery of the Ryan budget toward the poor, the aged sick, and children, is beyond really REALLY GROSS.)

Krugman continues, taking on the BOFFO of GOP governors, Chris Christie:
The same can be said of Mitt Romney, who claims that he will balance the budget but whose actual proposals consist mainly of huge tax cuts (for corporations and the wealthy, of course) plus a promise not to cut defense spending.

Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney, then, are fake deficit hawks. And the evidence for their fakery isn’t just their bad arithmetic; it’s the fact that for all their alleged deep concern over budget gaps, that concern isn’t sufficient to induce them to give up anything — anything at all — that they and their financial backers want. They’re willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts in crucial nutritional aid programs), but that’s a positive from their point of view — the social safety net, says Mr. Ryan, should not become “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” Maintaining low taxes on profits and capital gains, and indeed cutting those taxes further, are, however, sacrosanct.

Yet Mr. Christie has been adamant that New Jersey is on the way back, and that this makes room for, you guessed it, tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

Last week reality hit: David Rosen, the state’s independent, nonpartisan budget analyst, told legislators that the state faces a $1.3 billion shortfall. How did the governor respond?

First, by attacking the messenger. According to Mr. Christie, Mr. Rosen — a veteran public servant whose office usually makes more accurate budget forecasts than the state’s governor — is “the Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers.” Civility!

By the way, even Mr. Christie’s own officials are predicting a major budget shortfall, just not quite as big. And the two big credit-rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, have recently issued warnings about New Jersey’s budget situation, which S.& P. called “structurally unbalanced” because of the governor’s optimistic revenue assumptions.

New Jersey, then, is still in dire fiscal shape. So is our tough-talking governor willing to reconsider his pet tax cut? Fuhgeddaboudit. Instead, he wants to fill the hole with one-shot budget gimmicks, including reneging on a promise to reduce borrowing for transportation investment and diverting funds from clean-energy programs. So much for fiscal responsibility.
 The solution is very straightforward: We need one-party government in this country, at least for the next eight years. That means those who are eligible to vote, especially the millions of Americans who would otherwise vote Democratic but never in their lives bothered to exercise the sacred franchise of citizenship must turn out this November, in a great wave, to sweep the Republican Party from existence. They must hand the Democratic Party control of the White House and both houses, including a filibuster-proof Senate which can reform the filibuster back to simple majority democratic rule; which means a 50 + 1 requirement to pass laws.

We need to return the Supreme Court to the people through the appointments attrition that will give a Democrat in the White House the opportunity to return a majority swing SCOTUS vote to the people. Finally, we need a constitutional amendment to outlaw Citizens United and eliminate by constitutional fiat the untrammeled influence of corporations over our institutions by removing corporate money from politics. We need to restore the power of Justice and our oversight agencies, like the SEC and the EPA, to conduct criminal investigations and punish the criminals on Wall Street and the corporate world. We need to see a perp walk.

No, we do not advocate a one-party state. But the state of our democracy is so imperiled by the corporate oligarchy and its political arm, the Republican Party, that the only solution which would right this ship of state, short of Thomas Jefferson's violent revolution, is to hand the reins of total political governing power to the only party which, though imperfect, has tried to govern responsibly in the national interest. When the Republican Party deliberately undermines our economic recovery from Republican-created depression in the interests of crony capitalism and globalized corporate profits, there is only one word that best describes this: TREASON.

Whether we choose to call them Paul Krugman's "Manchurian Candidates" or accept self-described RINO (Republican in name only) Alan Simpson's (of Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction notoriety) repudiation of his party, it ultimately boils down to the same thing. If the republic is to survive, this Republican Party must be destroyed at the polls, by the people. Cut out the cancer. It's the only way it can reconstitute itself as a responsible governing political institution.

Elections are great safety valves to exercise the will of the people. Will it, as expressed in poll after poll, happen? Given the extent of ignorance and corporate PAC-induced cynicism in the electorate, probably, tragically, not. Yet predictions of generational minority extremist Republican rule over lemmings savaged by growing hunger, income inequality, and a shredded safety net, are not the likely alternative. Unless We, The People participate, sadly there will be violence.* History is quite clear on this score. Something's got to give.

*PS. — I'm not advocating violence; this is an opinion based on historical verities. In fact, every time the Republicans make absurd comparisons between the U.S. and Greece they are, in effect, predicting violence in the streets. If it happens they'll have a ready-made talking point: We've become Greece. Inevitably, it will be an excuse for further crackdowns on our constitutional rights, such as the right to vote. (Oh wait ... that crackdown is already happening!)

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