Sunday, November 4, 2012

Republicans attempt to blackmail America

Will blackmail work for Mitt Romney? Will blackmail work for the Republicans? That's entirely up to us.

From TPM:
In what his campaign billed as his “closing argument,” Mitt Romney warned Americans that a second term for President Obama would have apocalyptic consequences for the economy in part because his own party would force a debt ceiling disaster.

“Unless we change course, we may well be looking at another recession,” Romney told a crowd in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Romney said that Obama “promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan” and that his bitter relations with the House GOP could threaten the economy. As his chief example, he pointed to a crisis created entirely by his own party’s choice — Republican lawmakers’ ongoing threat to reject a debt ceiling increase. Economists warn that a failure to pass such a measure would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for the recovery.

Romney does have a point. Think about it. When Barack Obama took office, we were facing another Great Depression. It could have been even worse than that, with the entire American auto industry - and the parts suppliers and other companies depending on it - facing bankruptcy. Remember, in early 2009, the collapse looked to have no bottom. It was a very, very scary time.

So what did Republicans back then state was their #1 goal, before Barack Obama had done anything at all? Was it to stop the economic collapse which they'd created, or even to help America recover from it? No. Was it to help America win - or at least extricate ourselves - from the two foolish and unnecessary wars the Republicans had started (on credit, of course)? No.

Was it to stop the debt hemorrhage, where Republican policies had taken us from budget surpluses to record-breaking deficits even before they collapsed the economy? No, not at all. Instead, they proclaimed that their #1 goal - from the moment that Barack Obama was sworn into office - was to make him a one-term president. And that's been their #1 goal ever since.

How have they attempted to accomplish that? Well, mostly by dragging their feet, filibustering everything, and trying to keep America's economy from recovering. After all, if the Democrats could fix what the Republicans had done to us, there would be very little chance the GOP could regain the presidency in 2012.

That has been their #1 goal for three and a half years now. At best, they've been dragging their feet. At worst, well, that debt-ceiling debacle last year put the recovery back months - and caused America to lose our top credit rating for the first time in our history.

(Don't believe me? Here's what Standard & Poor's said, "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.")

Now, entirely for his own political ambition, Mitt Romney is threatening America with even worse. And yes, a default this time would be just as bad now as it would have been then:
“The U.S. dollar would be among the first casualties. If hot money were to flee what was once its safest haven, the dollar would sink and U.S. interest rates would rise,” writes Princeton economist, and former Fed Chairman Alan Blinder, also in the Wall Street Journal. “The latter could lead us back into recession.”

It’s not that investors would no longer have faith in the U.S. government’s technical ability to pay its bills. Nobody doubts that the U.S. can in theory manage its debt for years on the current fiscal trajectory before running into trouble with the markets. The fear is that buyers of U.S. debt would have to consider a new, previously unthinkable risk — that the country’s political system is too dysfunctional to set brinksmanship aside and steward the economy responsibly. ...

Here’s JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “Every single company with treasuries, every insurance fund, every — every requirement that — it will start snowballing. Automatic, you don’t pay your debt, there will be default by ratings agencies. All short-term financing will disappear. I would have hundreds of work streams working around the world protecting our company for that kind of event,” he told PBS.

JPMorgan followed up this comment with an analysis finding that even a brief default, quickly rectified, would likely trigger a run on money market funds, just as in the wake of Lehman Bros’ 2008 collapse, that would leave businesses unable to meet their short-term obligations and teetering on the bring of bankruptcy.

Mitt Romney knows that. So why is he blackmailing America like this? Well, he wants to become president. Elect me, or my fellow Republicans will collapse our economy (again).

Hmm,... given the fact that they collapsed our economy by accident the last time they held power, that seems to indicate that we don't have any good choices here, doesn't it?

Of course, they claim that things will be different this time, even though they plan to do the exact same things. After all, they still support all of Bush's economic policies. They just claim that, this time, the results will be different. This time, the results will be what Bush always claimed the results would be, not how it actually turned out. (Republicans are nothing if not faith-based.)

But either way, this is blackmail. And if we give in to blackmail, we'll ensure that Republicans continue to blackmail America in every election. After all, if they're successful, blackmailers don't quit. If you demonstrate that you're an easy mark, they'll just continue to blackmail you, almost certainly increasing their demands every time.

That's why Barack Obama didn't pay off Somali pirates, but ordered them shot, instead. That's why he sent Navy Seals to rescue hostages, rather than paying ransom. If you give in to blackmail, you just ensure that you'll continue to be blackmailed.

And Romney seems to forget that we Americans have a clear alternative here. We don't have to elect Mitt Romney president, just because he's blackmailing our country. All we have to do is defeat enough congressional Republicans, too.

After all, Republicans can't carry through with their threats if they're not in Congress. We don't have to give them that power. Indeed, a crushing defeat for Mitt Romney and GOP congressional candidates alike would demonstrate very clearly that blackmail doesn't work in America.

And if we don't want to see blackmail becoming a common tactic in Republican campaigns, we have to make sure it doesn't work. Our political campaigns have become awash with negative ads - from both sides - because negative ads work. Romney and Ryan have been lying nonstop in this campaign, because lying has worked for Republicans in the past - and worked very, very well, too.

Do we really want an America where political blackmail works? Well, in a few days, we'll have the opportunity to decide that. One way or another, it's up to us.


Anonymous said...

Spot ON, Garthright! Nate Silver's final predictions has President Obama's chances to win the electoral college at 92%. President Obama WILL WIN a second term! And, he has earned it after putting up with the GOP's B.S. with such strength, grace and humility. Unfortunately, although gains will be made, the house will stay in RepubliCON hands, and the Senate will remain in the Dems.
I just cannot believe that all of the GOPers can afford to obstruct for another 4 years as it would be disastrous for the economy and they could not possibly survive the next election cycle. Your thoughts on that would be most appreciated ...

WCG said...

Anonymous, let's not count our chickens before they've hatched. I'm mildly optimistic, but I'd rather be pleasantly, rather than unpleasantly, surprised!

Besides, I can't be overly optimistic in an America where nearly half the country still votes Republican, even after all they've done to us in recent decades (and especially in recent years). That just blows my mind!

Will the GOP continue to be obstructionist? Look at it this way: They were soundly defeated in 2008, after the worst presidential administration in U.S. history destroyed our economy, our reputation, and our honor.

Our economy was in a free-fall that looked to have no bottom. America was desperate for relief. There was even some speculation that the Republican Party would never recover.

So what did they do then? They doubled down on extreme partisanship and the exact same policies from the Bush administration that created this mess - all these messes - in the first place. And indeed, incredible as it seems, they came roaring back in 2010.

So do you really think they'll change their behavior now? Keep in mind that the GOP base is still crazy, and that Republican leaders have to keep them happy.

No, I suspect they'll decide that they simply weren't extreme enough, that they shouldn't have gone with a moderate flip-flopper like Mitt Romney, but with a real conservative, and maybe that they should have actually defaulted on America's debt last year, rather than just threatening to do so (and only damaging America's credit rating a bit).

After all, these are the same people who've been deliberately trying to bankrupt America, in order to force a smaller government on us (to shrink America down small enough to "drown in a bathtub," as Grover Norquist so eloquently put it).

Faith-based fanatics don't become reasonable just because of the evidence. They really don't live in the real world, anyway. They just have faith, so they tend to stick with their dogma no matter what.

I could be wrong. I hope I am. And they might change their message in some minor ways - like trying to woo Hispanics again, as Karl Rove suggested. (Of course, that's difficult when you've filled your party with bigots.)

And there will probably be some Republicans who'll argue for a less confrontational stance, at least in their public statements (since it's bad PR, if nothing else). But I'm not optimistic for drastic change in the GOP, not yet. I suspect they'll just immediately focus on 2016 - and not in a good way.