As Amato noted, last night the House Republican leadership staged a bastardized debt-ceiling “vote” to set up a silly political trap for the Democratic Party. The whole thing was a blatant hoax making the House Republicans look like bunch of “intemperate children.” Today Speaker John Boehner continued his dog and pony show by rolling out a letter signed by "more than 150 economists" who agree that "An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms...will harm private-sector job creation in America."
Sounds very “serious.” Doesn’t it? Except not so much. As Matt Finkelstein from Political Correction notes the signees feature right-wing hacks, bitter partisan dead-enders, and number of characters affiliated with Koch Brothers. Highlights from some of these characters include:
Benjamin Zycher: Michelle Obama Is The Product Of "Affirmative-Action Coddling" And "An Intellectual Lightweight." In a post on National Review's blog The Corner, Zycher wrote: "Now, let me be blunt: Michelle Obama, the product of lifelong affirmative-action coddling, is an intellectual lightweight who fancies herself a serious thinker. Just read her Princeton senior thesis, an intermittently coherent stream-of-consciousness pile of leftist jargon, campus pseudo-seriousness, and racial-identity babble. Can there be any doubt that the Princeton administrators accepted it only because of her skin color?" [National Review, 8/17/09]
Thomas C. Rustici: "In November We Will Kick Your Asses Out And Save This Republic From Your Socialistic Tyranny." Speaking at a Tea Party rally, Rustici said: "I swear on my life, with God as my witness, we are going to hold them to account for this disaster. If you're a politician and disrespect the Constitution, individual liberty, and the American people; heed my words: this, I swear before God almighty right here right now, we're coming after you. In November we will kick your asses out and save this Republic from your socialist tyranny." [TomRustici.Angelfire.com, 4/10/10]
John Cogan: "It's Wrong To Allow Surpluses." According to the New York Times: "John F. Cogan, a Hoover fellow, was a top official in the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan and first Bush administrations and probably could have been the current president's budget director if he had wanted the job. He put the case this way: 'It is wrong to allow surpluses because these surpluses invariably lead to higher spending. Governments simply cannot hang onto money.'" [New York Times, 2/9/03]
Bill Scher from Campaign for America’s Future has more on Boehner’s stars:
There's Larry Lindsey, President George W. Bush's first director of the National Economic Council. Lindsey advocated for the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy as an "insurance policy" against recession.
As you may recall, we had a bit of a recession during the Bush years, which produced the worst record on job creation in modern history.
There's Kevin Hassett, co-author of the 1999 classic book "Dow 36,000." Hassett made a public bet that the Dow would be closer to 36,000 than 10,000 by the year 2010. Yet, the Dow was at 10,000 in 2010.
And there's Douglas Holtz-Eakin, top economic adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. The McCain campaign's response to the financial crisis was to suspend the campaign, arrange for a bipartisan meeting with the President, and then proceed to say nothing at the meeting.
Furthermore, 24 of the economists who signed both letters also signed a 2003 letter endorsing the Bush tax cuts as a "fiscally responsible" path to "more employment, economic growth, and opportunities for all Americans." As it turns out, the Bush tax cuts were a fiscal nightmare that fueled massive deficits, a decline in average household incomes, and the slowest period of economic growth since World War II.
The question is whether Democrats will take these characters seriously and consider them as rational actors, who will actually come to the table in good faith. One thing Democrats cannot afford right now is to agree to cuts to Medicare benefits by getting psyched out by the House Republicans’ dog and pony show. Let’s hope they stand strong and tell these clowns to take a hike.