Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Republicans behaving badly and other political games

Here's few things that caught my attention in today's news.

Appearing on CSPAN yesterday, congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) said the solution to the current economic crisis is to "do what Ronald Reagan did" and implement "across-the-board permanent marginal tax reductions." When a caller pointed out that deficits skyrocketed under Reagan, Pence replied:
You’re absolutely correct in saying that they saw deficits and the national debt grow under President Reagan, but it was—and check me on this, people can check things easily on the internet these days, check me on this—the rate reductions that President Reagan enacted resulted in more than a doubling of the revenues over the next seven years that went from the American people to the federal government.

That's the standard supply-side myth made famous by Laffer and his laughable curve—cutting taxes raises revenue—we all know it is complete crap. Matt Corley at Think Progress took Pence up on his suggestion and looked up the actual figures for us. According to the Office of Management and Budget, when adjusted for inflation into year 2000 dollars, tax increased from $1.077 trillion in 2001 to $1.236 trillion in 2008. When not adjusted for inflation, the figures sound a little more impressive; they went from $599.3 billion to $909.3 billion—a tiny bit over once and a half. When you take into account that the economy was in a slight uptick between two recessions and not at all good when Reagan took office and was still coasting on the Wall Street boom (though down from its peak) when he left, that's even less impressive. The only question that remains is, was Pence lying through his teeth or does he really believe that nonsense? In either case, should this boob be allowed to make laws?

The excruciatingly silly Pajamas Media has hired Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher to be a war correspondent in Gaza for their new online TV channel. I'll let you make your own jokes on this one.

John McCain just sent out a letter his e-mail list announcing his "new grassroots organization called Country First."
Country First will allow us to strengthen our Party, better define our Republican ideals and message, recruit and back strong, dedicated candidates and continue our efforts to bring real reform to government by always putting our country and the noble ideals she stands for first.

An organization formed from the top down is the exact opposite of a grassroots organization, but McCain isn't the first to do violence to that particular concept. Steve Benen points out that the right isn't exactly lacking in organizations to push their agenda and, in fact, many of the existing groups are closing their doors now that their funding pool is shrinking. CNN goes so far as to say Country First is nothing more than a PAC for McCain's senate reelection campaign in 2010.

Maybe I should make this a weekly feature rather than only focusing on things that I can work into a full post.

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