The spectrum of behaviors characterized by abnormal mental or behavioral patterns manifest as violations of normalcy, including a person becoming a danger to others, is a broad definition of insanity. Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and his definition aptly describes the Republican Party for the past thirty years. However, since President Obama won re-election three weeks ago, members of the GOP in Congress have gone off the rails, and the consequences to the government, and 98% of the people, represents a clear danger to the nation’s fragile economic recovery. Even though the election proved voters rejected Republican obstructionism and loyalty to the wealthy, they are digging in their heels and threatening tactics they used over the past four years as if the people demanded they continue making government unmanageable.
When S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating last year, they said “America’s governance was becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable,” and blamed Republicans for using “the statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default as political bargaining chips to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” S&P recognized that sequestration leading to the so-called fiscal cliff was “a fallback mechanism designed to encourage Congress to embrace a more balanced approach to deficit reduction,” but they understood Republicans were intent on letting the “2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place.” The Republican proposals beginning the day after the election informed that S&P recognized what many Americans have witnessed for the past four years and that is the Republicans will continue obstructing any attempt to increase revenue that includes raising taxes on the rich. In fact, they are still pushing Romney’s tax plan for fiscal cliff negotiations that include reducing tax rates for the wealthy and closing tax loopholes for the middle class.
In an effort to unblock the logjam in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is proposing changing filibuster rules to disallow Republicans from obstructing bills from even coming up for discussion, and it prompted Speaker of the House John Boehner to pre-condemn a change to the filibuster by threatening that, “Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival.” However, there have been bills that did pass the filibuster prone Senate Republicans, like keeping tax cuts for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses, that House Republicans refuse to bring up for a vote, or discussion. Republican obstructionism is not dependent on Senate procedures, but on giving preference to the wealthy and opposing any Administration or Democratic measure regardless if it helps create jobs, boost the economy, or reduce the deficit.
Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented President Obama’s proposal for avoiding the fiscal cliff Republicans voted for last year, and Republicans dismissed it with extreme prejudice because it is not austerity with more tax cuts for the rich. The President’s proposal adheres to the kind of broad framework of the deal Boehner wants with an upfront deficit-reduction “down payment” that cancels automatic tax increases and spending cuts while still signaling seriousness on the deficit, and a second stage giving Congress the opportunity to work on overhauling the tax code and social programs to secure more deficit reduction next year. Still, it does not include reducing taxes on wealthy and corporations’ while drastically cutting social safety nets and spending on infrastructure. Boehner said, “The Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” and that “no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks. Listen, this is not a game, jobs are on the line, the American economy is on the line. And this is a moment for adult leadership.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “They took a step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff,” which is simple code for not proposing severe austerity to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy that, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), will not reduce the deficit.
In the CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook for Fiscal Years 2012 – 2022, it says if Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire at the end of the year, then the projected deficit will shrink from $1.1 trillion to $196 billion; an 82% reduction over the next six years. As a result, an increase in tax revenues combined with spending cuts will nearly halve the deficit in 2013, reducing it to $585 billion. They also claim that because the Bush-era tax cuts were never paid for, they will remain 60% of the deficit through 2019 because the country is still paying on borrowed money to benefit the wealthy.
There are signs that some Republicans realize the election was a repudiation of Republicans and their persistent obstructionism and refusal to help all Americans, but the majority are still of the mindset that preventing economic progress will “make President Obama a one-term President.” The Republican hatred of President Obama transcends economic policy and permeates their entire reason for living. The recent statements by some Senate Republicans that they will not confirm anyone the President nominates to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has nothing to do with the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans and everything to do obstructing President Obama. Their opposition to any Administration proposal is not founded in sound economic or foreign policies, but their insane obsession with preventing the President from working for the American people.
Last year’s S&P report was correct in its appraisal that Republicans have made governance less stable, less effective, and less predictable, and one may have thought the election signaled that their intransigence on balanced deficit reduction was not acceptable, but they learned nothing whatsoever. In fact, they immediately trotted out Willard Romney’s tax plan, made Paul Ryan point-man on fiscal cliff negotiations, and assailed the President for not putting the Affordable Care Act on the table as a means of deficit reduction; anything to prevent raising tax rates on the wealthiest 2% of income earners. Their obsession with protecting the rich is more than just a form of mental illness; it is hazardous to this country’s economic health the American people cannot survive as long as they continue making governance less stable and effective.
President Obama gave Republicans a proposal that cuts the deficit, cuts spending, creates jobs through infrastructure improvements, and preserves tax cuts for 98% of the population and 97% of small businesses. Republicans countered with Romney’s austerity plan and greater tax cuts for the wealthy, and they show no signs of relenting despite the looming fiscal cliff. Americans cannot tolerate another four years of Republican obstructionism just to benefit 2% of the population, or Draconian cuts to social safety nets that tens-of-millions of Americans depend on for basic survival. It has come to the point that Republicans are not doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, because they are doing the same thing they have for the past four years and expect the same results of making governance impossible, and unfortunately for America, their insane obsession with obstructing the President is a danger to economic recovery and 98% of the population.