You Can’t Negotiate With Self Deception: The GOP’s Game of Political Chicken

Ezra Klein sums up the increasingly likely government shutdown in two paragraphs :

If the Republicans just wanted negotiations, the Obama administration would be happy to oblige them. The White House, after all, has repeatedly said they’re willing to negotiate with the Republicans over the deficit, over jobs, over sequestration, and much else. Republicans haven’t been interested in those kinds of negotiations for some time. Indeed, after the fiscal cliff, Speaker John Boehner told Republicans that he was finished negotiating directly with Obama.

The reason Republicans aren’t interested in those negotiations is they don’t want to give anything up to get the things they want. That’s why they like negotiating over the debt ceiling: Since they also don’t want the the U.S. to lose its creditworthiness and fall back into financial crisis, raising the debt ceiling is not actually giving anything up. It’s releasing a hostage they never wanted to shoot.

It’s been clear for sometime that the ongoing debates in Washington have absolutely nothing to do with government spending or raising the debt ceiling as many conservatives would like to believe. If Republicans were concerned about on going government spending , the concessions they would seek would revolve around their proposals to reduce the deficit. Of course there are no proposals of any kind coming from the House GOP and the only demand John Boehner has asked for involve the defunding and delay of Obamacare.

But a look deeper into the politics of the House GOP reveals that the impending government shutdown isn’t even about Obamacare care as much as its about the political divisions within the Tea Party, House GOP.

House Speaker John Boehner has tried to convince conservatives to abandon their idea to use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Obama to defund Obamacare, telling them instead to wait and use the debt limit to force Obamacare concessions.

In a conference call with House Republicans last week, Boehner said they would push Obama on the debt limit, but not the continuing resolution to fund the government. Some weren’t pleased, The National Review‘s Jonathan Strong reports, and the call turned “ugly.” Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, for example, “told Boehner to ‘go back to the drawing board.'”

The New York Times also chimes in:

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio faced a critical decision this weekend: Accept a bill passed by the Senate on Friday to keep the government funded and the health care law intact and risk a conservative revolt that could threaten his speakership, or make one more effort to undermine the president’s signature domestic initiative and hope that a shutdown would not do serious political harm to his party.

With no guarantee that Democrats would help him, he chose the shutdown option. The House’s unruly conservatives had more than enough votes to defeat a spending bill that would not do significant damage to the health care law, unless Democrats were willing to bail out the speaker. And Democrats showed little inclination to alleviate the Republicans’ intraparty warfare.

It’s important to take note of the actual causes of this government shutdown instead of the apparent causes. The predominant strategy of Republicans in Congress over the past two decades has been hostage negotiations over policy negotiations. From their record number of filibusters to their ardent refusal to approve the President’s nominee’s for key administrative positions, Republicans have all but abandoned their legislative duties in lieu of childish obstructionism. While it’s tempting to deal with false equivalencies and place blame on both Democrats and Republicans, the actions of both parties does not bare this out in truth. No where is this more evident than in the chambers of House Republicans where inter party divisions are currently holding the entire government hostage.

Should Rahm Emanuel Be Able To Run For Mayor?

In case you haven’t been following the news, the Illinois  Appeals court has ruled Rahm Emanuel ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago due to questions about whether he legally lived in Chicago for a year before running.  This post by Ezra Klein brings up a good point about residency requirements for elected officials:

Michael Bloomberg is considered a pretty good big-city mayor. He’s got a good staff around him, and a lot of experience working with city bureaucracy, and an apparent zest for the job. Maybe, after he gets term-limited out in New York, he’d like to continue being a big-city mayor. And maybe Chicagoans would be interested in having him be a pretty good big-city mayor in Chicago. Why should there be a rule against him running in the election? It’d obviously be fair for Chicagoans to decide against electing a New Yorker to lead Chicago, but why should there be a rule on the books denying them the option? What’s the nightmare scenario here? A Californian?

There’s obvious hurdles for say the former mayor of New York to run for the same position in LA but shouldn’t the people decide who they want in office? As time goes on I’m becoming less and less enthused about electoral rules designed to protect the people from themselves. The 22nd amendment? Eh fuck it, bring back Billy C. Mayor Bloomberg wants to run for Governor of California? Good, hopefully someone can figure out how to run that state the right way.

If the free market really works as well as some people allege, then the free market of individual talents only makes sense. If wall street firms can lure successful CEO’s away from other companies, shouldn’t voters be able to make the same choice?

Apparently Rich Is Rich No Matter Where You Live

Or at least that seems to be what the latest census bureau information indicates. From Ezra Klein’s blog:

Arguments over income taxes tend to get bogged down in arguments about who is really “rich.” And what you hear then is that rich in Ohio and rich in New York City are different. But how different?

According to the Census Bureau, only 6.3 percent of New York City’s households pulled in more than $200,000. So if you’re a household making $250,000 or more, you’re easily in the top 5 percent — even in New York City.

Take that Republican demagoguery!

One of the central republican retorts any time discussion of taxing the rich is brought up is that someone who is “rich” somewhere “normal ” like Kansas City wouldn’t be considered “rich” in a more expensive place like New York. But as the data above shows that someone in New York city that makes $250,000 or more still makes a lot more than most people in their geographic area. Sure they might not be able to live the glamorous “New York” life style but they still earn more than enough to take care of themselves.

Of course, this data only shows the upper class as defined by New York city, but considering that NYC is regularly quoted as the city with one of the highest, if not the highest living expenses it should be a suitable representation of expensive towns.

Senate Republicans Still Can’t Do Basic Economics

Mitch McConnell must be trying to piss me off:

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue,” he told Brian Beutler of TPMDC. “They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.” In other words, this is why Republicans don’t think tax cuts need to be paid for. They pay for themselves.

Let me be clear about two things. Two facts, and I emphasize the word facts.

1. In terms of pure budget considerations a $1 spent in tax cuts is THE EXACT SAME THING as a $1 spent on government spending.

2. Tax cuts…DO NOT PAY FOR THEMSELVES. Under no circumstances do tax cuts increase tax revenue.

Ezra Klein breaks it down as simple as it can get:

There’s an ontological question here about what, exactly, McConnell considers to be “evidence.” But how about the Congressional Budget Office’s estimations? “The new CBO data show that changes in law enacted since January 2001 increased the deficit by $539 billion in 2005. In the absence of such legislation, the nation would have a surplus this year. Tax cuts account for almost half — 48 percent — of this $539 billion in increased costs.” How about the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? Their budget calculator shows that the tax cuts will cost $3.28 trillion between 2011 and 2018. How about George W. Bush’s CEA chair, Greg Mankiw, who used the term “charlatans and cranks” for people who believed that “broad-based income tax cuts would have such large supply-side effects that the tax cuts would raise tax revenue.” He continued: “I did not find such a claim credible, based on the available evidence. I never have, and I still don’t.”

Anyone who’s even a casual reader of this blog has a plethora of research to support this position. Even Arthur Laffer, who originated the idea of tax cuts to increase revenue long ago claimed this idea to be bunk.

NOTE: And before anyone says something along the lines of “well tax cuts increase the economy because people spend money”, remember that almost every ounce of research shows that direct government spending has a bigger effect on the economy.

Mythbusted: The Non Existant Migration Tax

Dylan Matthews, on Ezra Klein’s blog, produces a crap ton of research that disproves the one of the major myths (see lies) pushed by the free market ideology.  Namely, the idea that raising taxes will cause people to move to another, lower taxed, state.

Of course, anyone who sat down and thought about this for more than half a second could have probably dismissed this silly idea by themselves.

Despite what conservatives believe, people don’t govern their lives exclusively by monetary decisions. While it might be “profitable” to move from one state to another, people have emotional and social investments in the places they live now. Are mommy and daddy going to pack up the family and pull little Jenny out of school and away from all her friends just so they can move from a 5.4 tax rate to a 4.9 rate? Probably not.  Sure, Jenny could probably make new friends, but when you take into consideration finding a quality school, finding a new job (assuming there are jobs available no doubt a BIG if), buying a new house, moving away from family, oh and by the way WHO WANTS TO LIVE IN KANSAS?…the social implications begin to far outweigh the economic.

Of course, this is assuming that moving from state to state would produce a net positive economic impact. Moving is expensive, especially moving to another state that might be on the other side of the country. Can you find a job that pays you a comparable wage…hell can you even find another job? What’s the cost of living ,etc, etc.  I could sit here all day and list negative economic costs.

The Bottom line here is that the life of  an American is a lot more than just a number in an excel sheet. It doesn’t take common sense to figure out bullshit like this,  just normal sense.

The Pro Life Republican Senator Responsible For Those So-Called “Death Panels”

So you know those advanced care planning consultationsdeath panels” in the health care bill Republicans are raising hell over? Well aside from being complete and utter bullshit there’s an even better twist in this story. The person who came up with the idea for these so called “death panels”  is none other than Republican PRO LIFE Senator Johnny Isakson from Georgia. And get this, not only does Isakson stand by this provision in the health care bill, but he calls bullshit on republicans promoting this blatantly false lie in his recent interview with Ezra Klein:

Is this bill going to euthanize my grandmother? What are we talking about here?

In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that’s because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia “durable power of attorney,” you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you’re unable to make those decisions.

This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it’s to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It’s just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand — and you have to check this out — I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin’s web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up.