So Much for Republican Bipartisanship

 Business, Congress, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on So Much for Republican Bipartisanship
Jan 262009

That didn’t take long. John McCain is on TV this weekend saying he won’t vote for the stimulus package. Other leading Republicans are complaining about the package not having enough tax cuts…blah, blah, blah. Of course they’re also on all the Sunday morning talk shows complaining about the dangers of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, and prattling on with the lies about all the released prisoners “returning” to the battlefield.

I’ve checked, and not single Republican in either house of Congress has a Nobel Prize in Economics, but Paul Krugman does, and he seems to know his way around an economy. In an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Krugman talks about the Republicans taking “obvious cheap shots:”

John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

Krugman goes after the on-going Republican argument against government spending and for tax cuts about how people are better at judging at how they spend their money than the government.

The point is that nobody really believes that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending. Meanwhile, it’s clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts — and therefore costs less per job created (see the previous fraudulent argument) — because a large fraction of any tax cut will simply be saved.

And let us not forget that the Republicans were all in favor of the Wall Street bailout plan (TARP). I find it interesting how that stimulus package was so acceptable without tax cuts, but this plan, which helps average Americans get jobs, just won’t work.

Boehner was on the Meet The Press Sunday railing about dubious statistic of 61 of the released Gitmo detainees being back on the “battlefield.” Well, first, it should surprise no one if we snatch someone for no good reason, torture them and hold them illegally for 5 or more years, and then that person goes back and decides he hates enough to join the fight. However a study published by Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux on Jan. 15 finds the Pentagon wrongly altered its figures on terrorist ‘recidivism’ 43 times, with the latest figure being “the most egregiously so.”

The Republicans seem to have always thought that bipartisanship means that everyone must agree with them. For some reason, the spineless Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have gone along with the bullies, thinking somehow the Repubs won’t be so mean to them, if they just give them everything they want.

I’m hoping that Obama is going to demand that Pelosi and Reid grow a spine. It sounds like maybe he has one. It’s been reported that Obama, during a White House meeting with Congressional leaders last week, said matter of factly, “I won.” That pretty much sums it up, and it is a message the Republicans need to understand, and Democrats need to use. Obama just needs to move his plan forward, and then let the Republicans vote against it, then go to the airwaves and exploit his 68% approval rating and tell the American people he’s doing all he can, but we’ll have to help him move some Congressional Republicans along.

No Protection For The Innocent

 Congress, Constitution, Election, Politics, War  Comments Off on No Protection For The Innocent
Sep 282006

We’ve heard the rhetoric before. Republicans are repackaging their “tough on crime” speeches as “tough on terror” and complaining that anyone who stands in the way of increasing executive power at the expense of individual rights is “coddling” — criminals or terrorists, your pick.

And so we have Dennis Hastert saying:

“Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists,” Hastert said in a statement. “So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan.”

The “Democratic plan” is simply to expect the government to obey existing laws rather than brushing them aside with a quick legislative assist, but what is truly offensive and disingenuous about Hastert’s attack is the assumption that Democrats want to “coddle terrorists” rather than “protect the innocent.” It is astonishing that the GOP, so long distrustful of the ability of government to make decisions wisely, is now populated with members who are certain that the executive branch will never err in taking custody of a suspected terrorist. The rights that protect against a wrongful conviction — freedom from tortured confessions and a ban against the inherently unreliable evidence that coercion produces, confrontation of witnesses, discovery of evidence, judicial review and more — can be safely withheld because of … presidential infallibility?

There is no presumption of innocence in the Republican Bill of Rights. Those who oppose the president’s “terrorism” bills recognize that law enforcement agencies — from the smallest police department to Homeland Security and the CIA — don’t get it right every time. Click on TalkLeft’s innocence cases link to see how often the government gets it wrong. Or read about Maher Arar or Brandon Mayfield. Why are Hastert and his ilk so convinced that it is unnecessary to provide terrorism detainees with basic procedural protections that can save the falsely accused from a lifetime of indefinite detention?

It is monstrous that the GOP uses respect for our nation’s founding principles as an object of political ridicule and scorn. But it has been monstrous for Republicans to work tirelessly to imprison so many for so long while attacking Democrats for being “soft on crime.” And just as it has been frustrating to watch Democrats capitulate on crime (it was Bill Clinton, after all, who signed legislation that severely limited the scope of federal habeas corpus review), it is sad to see Democrats who are unwilling to protect our constitutional values today.

Harry Reid, on the Ed Schultz show today, said there just weren’t enough votes to sustain a filibuster. Why not? Why would anyone in the legislative branch tolerate an executive power grab of this dimension? Democrats had the power to stop this arrogant betrayal of the Constitution. Why didn’t they exercise that power? Because they didn’t want to seem soft on terrorism? What kind of politician are you if you can’t explain the difference between “coddling terrorists” and “protecting the innocent from an incompetent branch of government”?

At a time when progressive politics finally seemed to be overcoming a political structure perpetuated by hysteria and lies, the failure of Democrats to unite today in support of core American values is more than disappointing. Those who did not fight for democratic values will look back on today in shame.