Raise Your Hand And Repeat After Me …

Live, in the Iowa debate, all the Republican presidential hopefuls took the “no tax increases” oath.

[Update: The day after the Iowa straw poll, Tim Pawlenty dropped out. Rick Perry jumped in, and yes, in the September 7th debate he joined his ultra-conservative counterparts by raising his hand and taking the oath. Ross Perot has yet to be sighted.]

The moderator repeated the question, upping the stakes, asking if they would take a ten-to-one deal. Not one of them would. For clarity, he even asked them to raise their hands if they would refuse such a deal. They all raised their hands like good little Grover Norquist marionettes.

To me, this was the most revealing part of the debate. It means even if a bill offering 5 trillion dollars in cuts linked to only 500 billion (about half of what would be raised by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire) in new revenues came to their desk, they wouldn’t sign it. Such rigid ideology is not what this country needs and it’s not what the public is looking for. A majority of Americans favor higher taxes on the upper crust as part of a balanced approach to deficit reduction. None of the candidates on stage wanted to acknowledge that, not even Romney, who used just such a balanced approach to help balance the budget in Massachusetts.

Last week’s Standard and Poors announcement specifically listed the Republicans’ unwillingness to budge on revenues as a major reason for the downgrade. It appears none of the candidates even read the report. Or they don’t understand it. They continue to push the policies, lower taxes for the richest Americans and de-regulation, which led us here in the first place. They seem more interested in keeping their pledges to the kingmakers on “K” Street than fixing the problems on main street.

Hopefully, when Rick Perry enters the fray this weekend, he’ll bring Ross Perot and some pie charts along with him.


12 thoughts on “Raise Your Hand And Repeat After Me …

  1. An incumbent President with a bad economy is vulnerable, but none of the R’s seem willing to take even the slightest centrist stance that could help them capture any part of the wavering middle.

    I actually think Romney would in the general election, but I think he’s pandering to the base to try and get the nomination.


    • Like I stated in the post, Romney and the rest of the field are too scared of Norquist and the other pac-masters. It’s pulling them far to the right. Whoever wins the nomination is going to have a hard time courting the middle.


  2. BnJ says:

    I, too, think Romney would try to function as a moderate as president,— he certainly knows how to—- but then five minutes later his stance would change to whatever he needed to do to retain power—- that’s his style and lack of conviction .
    Obama ,as the constant community organizer, on the other hand is , consistent in his belief that there is an ounce of reasonableness in his opponents’ heads , and that they will use it if he can just get them all together to do so , and hand them whatever he can offer, certainly not confront them with any hostility —- no no , can’t have confontation and adamant stances on both sides, or solutions won’t emerge from the community of “maybe ok after all good people over there on the other side The rationality door is closed.–God could offer to entirely wipe out the national debt tomorrow, if they’d agree to make big oil lose one penny of subsidies and they’d all leap over the cliff saying NO !—-Fear and greed as usual are running the show these days and seem locked in as the only working political motivators .Our country is in great trouble if the fanaticism stays so dominant . It may require some huge tragic event to bring things back to some actual mutuality of purpose, thinking , and problem solving —–“Hey Jefferson, gotta musket? “—Let’s see now how does this flash mobbing approach work —–BnJ—–BnJ


    • I prefer a president that errors on the side of optimism. I’m glad Obama hasn’t given up on the notion of bi-partisanship. As for Romney, the guy is a walking contradiction. He said Americans are hurting and Obama isn’t doing anything to help them, early in the debate, and yet wouldn’t commit to extending unemployment benefits later on in the debate. What a phony.


  3. Shawn Weber says:

    I noticed that moment too. I think the candidate with a promise like that who actually wins the Presidency will regret such a rigid position. There are folks on the left who are equally rigid and I think this is part of the gridlock problem. I long for a pragmatic approach. As a life long dyed in the wool conservative, I would jump at a bill with the 10:1 ratio.


  4. Shawn Weber says:

    The other side of the coin is true too. The current Democrats running things are so far on the lunatic left, they make Bill Clinton look like a Republican. In response to the comment from BnJ, Obama has really done a terrible job of reaching out. He has taken his administration so far to the left with not wasting a crisis and spending us into oblivion, that he literally created the Tea Party. We wouldn’t have to contend with Michele Bachmann and the like if he had governed more moderately. The current Tea Party and their hard nosed policies are clearly a reaction to his shoving health care and trillion dollar stimulus bills down our throats.


    • A lot of Democrats think Bill Clinton is a Republican.:-] And Obama is not spending us into oblivion, he’s trying to repair the damage done by Bush. Both Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, the prescription drug bill and TARP were all unfunded Bush creations. Clinton handed Bush a surplus. Bush handed Obama huge deficits, a plummeting Dow and an economy that was shedding 750,000 jobs a month! How soon people forget. One more thing, if Michele Bachmann thinks the stimulus was so bad for the economy, why did she solicit stimulus money SIXTEEN different times, each time with the justification that it would … create jobs. Ahh, the freedom of information act, it’s a good thing.


  5. Shawn Weber says:

    First of all, I am no Bush fan. He was a luke warm at best. However, under Bush debt reached 67% of GDP. That was unacceptable. I remember screaming at continual increases in spending such as Medicare part D and the ridiculous farm bill.

    Obama, however, has taken deficit spending to a whole new level. Under Obama and his stimulus of galactic proportions, we have reached debt of 100% of GDP. Furthermore, Clinton was running deficits until he had to deal with a Republican congress that forced him to reduce spending.
    Additionally, under Bush and even with two wars and 9/11 we had an economic expansion that lasted up until 2008. Now I agree that there were policies that helped contributed to our current recession. However, our problems had as much to do with those wonderful liberal policies that gave us Freddie and Fannie as much if not more than some Wall Street dude. The crash certainly had ZERO to do with tax cuts. In fact, raising taxes would have pushed us into depression land. Obama knew that as evidenced by his decision to extend the Bush tax cuts back in December. We can argue this for awhile…. and I don’t think I will win you over. But that’s how I see it.

    But to make an argument that Obama is bipartisan is absurd. In fact, the only thing that has been bipartisan has been the opposition to Obamacare and the stimulus. Currently (see Gallup) there are twice as many self-identified conservatives as there are liberals. Additionally, the independents who had voted for Obama have abandoned him. That is why you see him with high disapproval ratings across the country including in New York of all places.

    Clinton was a successful President (as much as he drove me nuts) because he figured out how to work with and triangulate his opposition. Obama, by continually insulting the folks he is supposedly negotiating with, has alienated his opposition to a point that bipartisanship is impossible. He has accused the Republicans of pushing grandmas off cliffs and starving children. He, along with Harry Reid and Pelosi, told the pants-on-fire lie that Republicans were trying to end medicare. He invited Paul Ryan to attend a speech about the budget, during which he insulted him and demagogued his proposals. One should not then be surprised if Republicans are hesitant to negotiate with him. (Obama actually got a right winger like me to miss Clinton.)

    Now, I am no fan of Michele Bachmann. So say whatever you want about her. I think she is a loon and unelectable. I am not thrilled about Romney, but he polls almost nearly as well as Obama and he hasn’t even been nominated yet.

    Now I got into this little discussion by noting that Republicans should not be so dogmatic that they miss out on opportunities for good policy. I stand by that. But it is silly to argue that the left has been anything but equally (if not more) childish in their dogma and ideology.

    The problem is that both sides are beholden to their insanely partisan bases, People need to turn down the rhetoric, put aside the talking points, and really have a discussion about what will work as opposed to an insane loyalty to ideological purity. This goes for the right and the left. This conservative, at least, is willing to have that conversation.

    Truly, I hope that my comments aren’t viewed as more red meat. I am commenting here because I welcome a dialogue.


    • Hello again, Shawn. I’m not sure what the red meat comment means, but I’ll just say, you’re welcome to comment anytime on any subject. If I don’t reply for a while it just means I’m working or away from my laptop. But I will always answer, eventually.

      I don’t think it is absurd to say Obama is still attempting bipartisanship. He has outlined four major legislative proposals to get people back to work. They all are in Congress now. In order for them to make it to his desk, he must have the help of the Republicans. That alone shows he is asking for help from across the aisle. His comments might be a bit rhetorical at times, but he is up for re-election afterall. And considering that his opposition makes some fairly brutal comments toward him (Rush hoping he fails, McConnell saying his number one task as minority leader is to make sure Obama only serves one term, certain others saying he pals around with terrorists, is a socialist, and worst of all, isn’t even American) I’d say he isn’t treating them any differently than they treat him.

      As for the debt, it is not at 100% of GDP, it is at 72% of GDP. It hasn’t been at 100% of GDP since WWII, and after the war ended we were able to grow the economy and pay down that debt.

      I disagree with your assumption that tax cuts had absolutely nothing to do with the crash. When corporations and wealthy individuals pay lower taxes, speculation in the markets increases. When top tax payers have higher tax rates, they tend to look for longer term investments. Corporations re-invest in their companies rather than pay it out in taxes.

      Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts in order to get an extension of unemployment benefits, to fund small business legislation and to protect tax cuts for the middle class. He viewed extension of the tax cuts for the very rich as a necessary evil. Hardly an endorsement of the policy. BTW, those tax cuts added hundreds of billions of dollars to the debt, nearly twice what the stimulus package cost.

      I think the Republicans are the ones clinging to their ideology. A majority of Americans favor some sort of tax increase, yet you saw the debate. Not one of the candidates would even consider it. The equivilant response from the left would be to say there can be no cuts whatsoever in any program and that is clearly not the case. They’ve already passed legislation into law that ensures cuts at a historic level. If Obama and the Democrats were as far left as you seem to think, you would have seen single-payer health care passed. We would already be completely out of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Green energy investment would be much more prevelant. Building of high speed rail would be under way. True Wall Street reform would have taken place. FISA courts would have been reinstated and campaign finance reform would be underway. And of course, the Bush tax cuts would have been allowed to expire. When you look at it that way, from the left, Obama appears much more centrist.

      His numbers don’t look great, until you look at the numbers of his opponents. He leads the generic Republican by ten points (Gallup). His 49% approval rating is not particularly strong until you see that Congress’ rating following the debt ceiling fiasco is in the low twenties. Those numbers are approaching Dick Cheney depths.

      To sum it up, I think the Dems are focusing on getting people back to work and the Repubs are simply focused on hurting Obama’s re-election hopes. I’m still hoping they can meet somewhere in the middle. The country is waiting for it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s