The Adult Republican Argument?

Nicolle Wallace was a senior adviser to John McCain’s campaign in 2008. She tried hard to sell Sarah Palin to non-gullible Americans and to put Palin’s muddled mind one McCain-heartbeat away from the presidency. That alone ought to keep her off TV for at least a decade. But Wallace is becoming something of a regular on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. She gets credit, these days, for not being one of those crazy Republicans we are used to seeing on TV, like, uh, Sarah Palin.

nicole wallace on msnbcWallace represents what some in the media are fond of calling the “adults” in the Republican Party. This morning she was explaining how politically dumb it is for Republicans like Ted Cruz to insist on going all-in on defunding ObamaCare. Pay close attention to her reasoning here because it constitutes the adult thinking in the GOP:

I have a two-year-old and sometimes when he’s on his scooter he wants to cross the street even when the light is red…it is your job as the parent to hold the child and the scooter from running into traffic ’cause he would get squished. It is the job of the adults in the Republican Party to tell—there is grass roots support in this country, among Republicans, among conservatives, among Tea Party members, to do this…Obama’s health care is incredibly unpopular, so Ted Cruz is responding to what is a genuine sentiment out there. However, when Republicans run into the street, despite the fact that there’s a flashing red light, they’re gonna get hit by the cars and killed. So this is stupid politically, this is stupid at a policy level because as the great Charles Krauthammer said, it has no chance of succeeding. This is Obama’s health care law, this is Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, so they’re going to fail. 

So, we are at a moment…most of the country is pretty disillusioned with President Obama’s leadership on the world stage, a majority of Americans do not like his signature domestic achievement, which is the health care law. We’re actually at a moment, as Republicans, where even Bernie Sanders has described our party as “on the offense,” and now we’re going to let our party to run into moving traffic against a red light. It’s idiotic.

That pretty much represents what you hear from Republicans who don’t like what Cruz and other maniacs are trying to get their party to do regarding the defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

For clarification and enlightenment, let me summarize the adult Republican argument this way:

We Republicans are playing a good offensive game right now. We’ve helped make Obama look bad “on the world stage” by aggressively criticizing every move he makes, no matter what it is; we’ve exploited people’s ignorance about ObamaCare to the point where lots of Americans now don’t like the law, even though they admit they don’t know what’s in the law. That’s how brilliant we have been on this thing. A majority of Americans don’t understand the Affordable Care Act, but know they don’t like it, some even hate it, because we have aggressively attacked it night and day. So, why muck up all that good work we’ve done? We Republicans have Obama on the ropes, he’s going down on the canvas anyway, why risk pissing off the crowd now?

If you think that is a misleading characterization of the argument that Wallace and other Republicans are making, you haven’t been paying attention the last five years. Republicans have done all they can to destroy Obama’s presidency domestically, and now they take great delight in thinking that they have weakened him around the world. This is all, and I mean all, about politics, particularly crass and cynically opportunistic politics.

Nicolle Wallace didn’t breathe a word about what the shutdown of the federal government would mean to Americans, including those who work for the government and those—all of us—who depend on it for services. She never bothered to mention how damaging it would be for us to once again flirt with not paying our bills, including our creditors. She never discussed how a default would, in the words of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, be an “extremely dangerous and likely recovery-ending event.” She never noted how domestic interest rates would go up, making it hard for businesses seeking credit to expand, as well as making it difficult for consumers seeking credit to purchase cars and homes. She failed to explain how our national credit worthiness would take yet another hit at the hands of Republicans, resulting in higher financing costs for our nearly $17 trillion debt, which will then eat up more of the budget and cause Tea Party Republicans to demand even more draconian cuts in government spending—the ultimate goal of these ideological freaks.

No, all she essentially explained was that her party is doing okay right now with all the demonization of the President, all the dysfunction in Congress, and all the distrust in government these tactics have created among the American people. At such a shining moment for the GOP, she argues, Republicans shouldn’t push their luck.

That’s some adult argument.

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Republicans Planning Another Kidnapping

“If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

Austan Goolsbee, on ABC’s This Week

 

Watching Austan Goolsbee, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, on television this morning, I finally got the sense that the administration understands just how crazy are the Tea Party Republicans.

It didn’t seem to surprise anyone in the administration that Republicans were willing to hold hostage millions of unemployed Americans in order to save rich folks from 1990s tax rates.  But now that there is another hostage situation developing—some Republicans are saying they won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling unless there are also cuts in entitlement programs—it appears the administration is finally going to get out ahead of this mess and control the debate.

On This Week, Goolsbee said the following:

Well, look, it pains me that we would even be talking about this. This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. That would be a worst financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.

As I say that’s not a game. I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity. There would be no reason for us to default other than that would be some kind of game. We shouldn’t even be discussing that. People will get the wrong idea. The United States is not in danger of default. We do not have problems with that. This would be lumping us in with a series of countries throughout history that I don’t think we would want to be lumped in with.

On Meet The Press today, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had no problem with publicly announcing his intention to execute yet another game of chicken:

To not raise the debt ceiling could be a default of the United States in treasury obligations. That would be very bad for the position of the United States and the world at large. This is an opportunity to make sure the government is changing its spending ways. I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligations, starting with Social Security, a real bipartisan effort to make sure that Social Security stays solvent, adjusting the age, looking at means test for benefits. On the spending side, I’m not going to vote for a debt ceiling increase unless we go back to 2008 spending levels, cutting discretionary spending.

To be fair, Graham did suggest some ideas that might help solve the long-term debt problem, including means-testing the Republican-created entitlement program Medicare Part D.  But he also said, “Obama health care needs to be repealed and replaced,” so how seriously can we take anything else he says, when he knows that’s not going to happen?

Finally, if Obama and the White House deal with this hostage crisis the way they dealt with the last one, there’s no telling what damage Tea Party Republicans and their fellow travelers will do to the country, in terms of our commitment to those who aren’t wealthy Republican constituents.

Goolsbee’s words today offer some hope that they will handle this Republican threat much better.  And while we will have to come up with solutions to the deficit and debt problems ahead, the administration simply can’t allow Republicans to execute another political kidnapping with impunity.

Threatening a default on our debt obligations—thus risking an unprecedented economic crisis—should be characterized in precisely the terms Goolsbee used this morning: It’s insane.

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