Thursday, July 01, 2010

Where The Republicans Are

I have failed to keep my beady eye on the opposition party, except to note that they have no intention of holding hands across the aisle unless it's for the purpose of arm wrestling.

Instead, they are busy filibustering the extension of unemployment benefits:

It would be too simplistic to say that Republicans oppose extending unemployment benefits. Instead, they oppose adding to the total size of the government's stimulus spending. The Republican counterproposal was to fund the unemployment benefits by taking unspent funds -- though funds that have been promised to various priorities -- from the stimulus. In return for chopping up the stimulus, Democrats could've secured Scott Brown and George Voinovich. They didn't take the deal.

At issue here is what you do in the midst of a recession. The theory behind any stimulus -- a theory that Republicans have hewed to in the past -- is that you expand the size of the federal deficit in order to add fresh dollars and demand to the economy. Taking the money for a bridge that was to be built next month in order to fund unemployment benefits for next week is like bailing water from one part of the boat into another part. Republicans, conversely, have coalesced around a form of deficit-driven economics that they didn't hold to in the Bush years but have reconsidered now.

I guess it's good to hew to your values, even if they are all about starving the lazy unemployed sloths. Mmm.

What else are the Republicans brewing for the victory they expect in November? You are not going to believe me but they have in mind the destruction of old-age pensions and the cancellation of the health care reform bill. You gotta hang yourself in your own bootstraps! That's the Murkan way, I guess:

A Republican-held Congress might look to raise the retirement age to 70, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested Monday.

Boehner, the top Republican lawmaker in the House, said raising the retirement age by five years, indexing benefits to the rate of inflation and means-testing benefits would make the massive entitlement program more solvent.

"We're all living a lot longer than anyone ever expected," Boehner said in a meeting with the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "And I think that raising the retirement age — going out 20 years, so you're not affecting anyone close to retirement — and eventually getting the retirement age to 70 is a step that needs to be taken."

The GOP leader said Social Security was the most important entitlement to reform, though he also pledged Republicans would bring legislation to the floor to repeal and replace the healthcare reforms passed earlier this year if the GOP wins back control of the House this fall.

I love the idea of 69-year old roofers and cleaners and carpenters! And I love the idea of a 65-year old trying to find a job in the kind of job market we have had lately! Ageism is no problem for Republicans; after all, firms should have the freedom to decide whom to hire!

Would that Brave New World still have unemployment benefits? Or would people be expected to soak and boil those bootstraps for dinner? Probably the latter. Of course all those older people in the labor market will leave fewer jobs for the younger folk, too.

Here's the real mystery: Why would anyone with fewer than a couple billion in the bank vote for them?
While working on this post I Googled Hoover-and-Great-Depression, and I found something very, very odd. Suddenly most of the links on the first page are to conservative sources, carefully picking and choosing what to cover about the Hoover administration.

This was not the case a year ago. Then you could find neutral takes, lefty takes and righty takes, all on the first page. Someone has been very busy re-writing Hoover's role to show us that any kind of intervention is the worst thing in the whole world and that Hoover really was an interventionist. Much better to let the requisite number of people starve to death quickly and efficiently so that good times can come back again.