Saturday, February 14, 2009

Money, Money, Money and Race (Updated) (Again)

Update (2/15): It occurs to me that the tax cuts, while massive, are targeted to the working/middle class. So, it's no wonder the Republicans voted against it, and I am not being ironic.

Update: h/t to lamh32, Jack and Jill commenter:

According to [Republican Senator David] Vitter, the GOP is basically betting the farm that the stimulus package is going to fail, and the party wants Democrats to go down with it. "Our next goal is to make President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress own it completely," he said. Instead of coming up with serious measures to save the economy, the party intends to devote its time to an "we told you so" agenda that will include GOP-only hearings on the bill's impact in the coming months to highlight the bill's purportedly wasteful elements and shortcomings.
Update: h/t to djchefron, a commenter on Jack and Jill Politics for this The Washington Monthly article pointing out that the Republicans just voted for the Biggest. Tax cut. Ever. This article just shows that congressional Republicans are only interested in being obstructionists. They're not standing on principles at all.

Right now, I'm absolutely enthralled by this economic crisis. Now, of course, I can talk about race in this context. How people of color were more likely to received sub-prime loans, even if they qualified for prime or didn't qualify for anything at all. How people of color will end up being the hardest hit. How we have our first African American president, and if he doesn't do this right, the lily-white Republican party, and I'm including Michael Steele in the lily-white description, is going to hang this on his head. They'll do a worse job than he's doing and the crisis will last that much longer.

But, I'm enthralled by the politics and economics of the situation. I'm even reading Paul Krugman's book The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008; and after his unreasonable bashing of President Obama during the primary and the general elections, I really wasn't a big fan.

But, the general economic argument is that the recovery plan was not nearly enough. Nowhere close. Being that I didn't even take econ 101 in college, I didn't really wanna step on the toes of conservative economists. But when even someone from the stupidly conservative American Enterprise Institute is saying, “I think they know how big it is, but they don’t want to say how big it is. It’s so big they can’t acknowledge it. The lesson from Japan in the 1990s was that they should have stepped up and nationalized the banks,” you know the proverbial sky is falling.

Now I'm convinced that this most recent attempt to stimulate the economy won't turn things around. The (re)calcitrant congressional Republicans will try to argue that the package was too big and had too much spending. And some people, because they're not seeing the big results they expected, may buy into the conservatives' arguments.

However, the reason things won't turn as much as people hope is that we're not spending enough money.

What convinced me? It wasn't this op-ed by Paul Krugman, which you should read; it was this article by Hiroko Tabuchi titled, "In Japan’s Stagnant Decade, Cautionary Tales for America."

So. Understand. The package isn't enough and everyone's afraid to do what needs to be done. Kinda like with an addict - sometimes we wait too long for the intervention.

And now that I've given you the economic side of the situation, let me rant about the politics. Even though it's clear that congressional Republicans are just playing pure politics; they don't care anything about the economy or American citizens; and, they only care about regaining the power they've lost; they still weld too much influence on our economic policy. Part of the reason the Obama administration isn't doing enough is because they don't wanna lose fiscal conservatives, both Republican and Democrat. But the fiscal conservatives will land the entire country in the poor house if we listen to them!

Even Republican governors, with perhaps the exception of Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, both of whom are prospective candidates for the 2012 presidential elections, are on board. I mean, you did say Florida's governor Charlie Crist hugging up on Pres Obama at the town hall in Ft. Myers, Fl? The states are suffering budget deficits. They need federal money and lots of it to balance their budgets. Money that'll save the jobs of teachers, bus drivers, police and firemen. Money that'll keep people from getting sick or becoming sicker. You can look at state and local balance sheets and see that the $800 billion ain't enough. Even for state and local Republicans. But the Republicans in Congress wanna act like they can't add.

But the past 25+ years have convinced me that really can't add.

And the odd thing is that we have history to guide us, right? Japan's lost decade and our own Great Depression. But conservatives in general and Republicans in particular have decided to re-write history. They have tried to blame the Great Depression on FDR. Even though the unemployment numbers show what FDR was doing was helping and things were turning around until FDR started doing what fiscal conservatives wanted, they blame him for continuing the Depression. And they're arguing the Japan's attempts to stimulate its economy were wastes of money even while numbers bear out that Japan lost a decade because they didn't do enough soon enough! So now, in order to do something without incurring a public backlash, the Obama administration can't do enough. And the thing is, now is the time when he can do what needs to be done. Politically, he can force the senate Republicans to filibuster and push through a plan of the size and scope that will accomplish what the country needs. The Democrats have the numbers. And the time. The next election isn't for almost 2 years. That's enough time for the voters to see the positive effects of what's happening and keep the Democrats in power. Economically, waiting will only make things worse. So, I don't get why the Obama administration is being so timid.

I got it! Think of the situation as taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. Bronchitis or sinusitis or something. You've had some sort of bacterial infection in your life, right? The doctor gave you antibiotics and told you to take the whole prescription as it's prescribed even if you start feeling better, right? The prescription is for about a month. But if you don't take all that medicine within that month, you end up having take even more medicine later. I know from my own 2 or 4 or more sinus infections. The economy is the same way. Spend all the money you need at the beginning, cause if you don't, you end up spending more money later. I mean, check out this article predicting the Bush tax cut stimulus attempt wouldn't be enough and we'd have to spend more money later, which we're doing now.

For goodness sakes congressional Republicans, read something other than and listen to somebody besides a fat, racist, insensitive, ig'nant drug addict!

One issue making Pres. Obama so timid in face of the crisis is that he has way too many people connected to corporate America, former bankers and lobbyists for banks, in his administration. And the bankers wanna keep the power and money they have. So essentially, part of the reason we can't manage to do what we need to is the selfishness of the big bankers and CEOs and the mean-spirited greed for power and the Republicans. The irony is it's precisely the selfishness of the big bankers, CEOs and the Republicans that we're in this mess. The bankers screwed around with people's money and lives. The Republicans gave major tax cuts to people who didn't need them and turned a record budget surplus into a record budget deficit.

But here's the most ironic thing of all. And it has to do with race. During the Great Depression, the South was solidly Democratic. Remember, due to racism, voters in the South were 99.9% white. They had run out socially liberal Republicans who were for politically empowering blacks during the Counter-Reconstruction after the Civil War. By the time of the Great Depression, the national Republican party was lily white and full of robber barons. People who wanted low taxes and no regulation - things that got us in our present mess, remember. But now, since the Democratic party has become socially liberal and all the civil rights victories of the 60s and 70s are attributed to Democrats, whites in the South have turned to the Republicans.

To make it clear, what I'm pointing out that if it weren't for their anti-anybody else feelings, Southern whites would overwhelmingly be supporting the Democratic party. Now, it is widely known that the South is anti-union, anti-labor. Which is odd given the poverty in the South that effects whites and blacks alike. But I digress. The reason the South is anti-union isn't that they actually believe the only way to create and preserve jobs is to empower business people to the detriment of workers. Remember, while poor whites had the benefits of their white skin in relation to blacks, wealthy whites were screwing over everybody. The majority of whites in the South would not side with business men when it came to the economy. However, they would side with whites against blacks when it came to any issue. So, the reason the South is anti-union is because white workers didn't want to band with black workers even for their own economic improvement.

Now, we have whites in the South voting against their own economic interests under the banner of "legitimate social issues," or rather, latent racism. They are the ones giving political power to a party they wouldn't have supported during the Great Depression.

Did you follow that? If voting habits were the same today as during the 20s and 30s, Republicans wouldn't have the little bit of power they have today. And the reason voting patterns changed wasn't a ideological conversion; it was racism, pure and simple. Don't get me wrong, white Southern Republicans may have convinced themselves that fiscal conservatism is the way to go, but it's only to justify their racist voting. Remember I said in a previous post that wealthy whites would screw over poor whites if it meant more money for them. And they get away with it by blaming people of color. Take Rush Limbaugh for example. Get it?

Okay. So. If the voting habits were the same today as they were during the Great Depression, and the people had an incentive to actually learn from history instead of re-writing it, we would actually spend the $2.3 trillion we need. But instead, the Republican bases which is increasingly white, male, and Southern, have an incentive to act stupid because they're still voting against the Democrats who they blame for supporting civil rights. Their racism is the main cause behind their "socially conservative" votes that empower people who don't care about them. They so concerned about race, they're voting for people who're more concerned about money. And not their money.

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