Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Steny Hoyer, the Party of No and us

Ezra Klein reports a speech by House Majority Leader Congressman Steny Hoyer (he's Nancy Pelosi's wily assistant and competitor for influence) about the inability of Congress to move on much of anything, mostly because the Republicans are committed to being the Party of No.

Note that his list of problems Congress can't move on suffers from the same myopia I ranted against in the last post on health care reform and the dangerous deficit. Hoyer worries about

...challenges like reforming our massive entitlement programs, controlling the growth of health care spending, and responding to climate change -- issues that are fraught with political risk and so easy to demagogue that it is almost impossible for one party to take them on alone. Those challenges are dangerously likely to stay untouched as long as at least one party is willing to be a ‘Party of No.’

Yes, it is a problem that Republicans refuse at present (and possibly forever as they recede into history as a miserable residue of white people who can't adapt to social reality) to try to solve the country's problems.

But refusing to put the real avenues toward solutions out in the light is deception by misdirection -- as much an impediment to democracy as Republican demagoguery. Insofar as Hoyer is talking about costs to the government, the problems are on the "supply side." The money exists for a safety net (the dread "entitlements") and health care, if the country can be brought to recognize a couple of simple truths about where to get it.

As I argued above, solutions begin with 1) raising taxes on people who have more than they need and 2) cutting the bloated military starting with non-essential wars. When those measures aren't part of the discussion, all we're hearing is a politician shuffling the deck before fleecing the gullible some more.
Paul Waldman makes a similar argument in an American Prospect article entitled The Spending Wars. A sample:

Wars just need to be fought; the defense budget just needs to keep growing; and we don't really care what it costs. The idea that we might ask each other to pay for war through our taxes is so ridiculous as to barely merit discussion. Domestic initiatives meant to improve Americans' lives, on the other hand, are deeply offensive to any notion of responsibility unless every penny is paid for in advance (and maybe not even then).

It wasn't always this way. ...

Just go read it.

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