"I can't wait for the bloodbath in April." -- Alan Simpson (Mean Old Man Party, Versailles)
It's official now. The "daddy party" is dead.
In its place, behold: The Mean Old Man Party in all its splendorous wrath. TPM reports:
The Republican co-chair of the White House's fiscal commission predicted this morning that his controversial recommendations for reducing long-term deficits will have a real opportunity to become enacted next year, when the nation brushes up against its debt ceiling, and newly elected Republicans threaten to send the country into default.
"I can't wait for the bloodbath in April," said Alan Simpson at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. "It won't matter whether two of us have signed this or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes, they're going to look around and say, 'What in the hell do we do now? We've got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give 'em a piece of meat, real meat, off of this package.' And boy the bloodbath will be extraordinary."
Well, at least he's honest. Decompensation will do that to a psychopath.
Of course, the Mean Old Man Party still clings fiercely to it's prized "grown-up" trope, even as it threatens to crash the global economy if it doesn't get its way right now!
Yesterday, Republican leaders, including soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner and NRCC chairman Pete Sessions made it clear that the the GOP will attempt to tie increasing the debt limit to spending cuts.
"We're going to have to deal with it as adults," Boehner said at a leadership press conference. "Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part."
"Our understanding, as a majority, we have a debt limit issue," Sessions told reporters. "The United States must pay its debts."
"My sense is when you're out spending wildly and then you're willing to raise the debt limit, that's a problem," Sesssions said. "When you are with a comprehensive plan, including a budget that clearly lays out priorities and expectations of performance, then say you have to deal with what is there, is a very responsible position."
There's just one problem: There isn't a spending problem--at least not on the part of liberal Democrats. Bush's wars, corporate welfare, sure. But as for the middle-class domestic spending that the Mean Old Man Party has its eye on destroying, the federal government isn't "out spending wildly". That's just crazy uncle talk.
(1) GOP fiscal irresponsibility--in the form of excessive tax cuts for the wealthy, spending for special interests (including the military/industrial complex), deregulatory recklessness and failure to invest for long-term growth, and (2) the most expensive, least efficient healthcare system on the planet.
Short/medium-Term deficit chart here. Long-Term chart here. Dean Baker (emailed comment for an RLN story I'm working on):
It is easy to show that there is no story of runaway spending, contrary to Bowles and Simpson's statements. Non-interest spending for 2020 is projected to be 18.6 percent of GDP. This is slightly less than the 18.8 percent share in 1980. In other words, spending has actually fallen as a share of GDP.
So what we have is the crazy uncles of the Mean Old Man Party posing as responsible adults, same as the folks who brought the economy crashing down on their watch a couple of years ago. But the bloodbath they're looking forward to with glee is very, very real.
Think of Mr. Simpson's blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.
Some explanation: There's a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they've done it before.
Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America's role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson "can't wait." And he's what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.
The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it's doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party's cooperation - cooperation that won't be forthcoming.
This is nothing new for conservatives. Liberals believe that whoever wins an election has won the right to govern in a democracy. But hard-core conservatives simply do not believe in democracy. And they do not believe that non-conservatives have a legitimate right to govern. Ever. If they need to destroy America in order to save it, that's fine with them. In fact, that's how they get their jollies.
The real problem, as Krugman points out, is that Versailles refuses to see what's happening right in front of it:
Elite opinion has been slow to recognize this reality. Thus on the same day that Mr. Simpson rejoiced in the prospect of chaos, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, appealed for help in confronting mass unemployment. He asked for "a fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits."
My immediate thought was, why not ask for a pony, too? After all, the G.O.P. isn't interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernanke's efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment.
And on matters fiscal, the G.O.P. program is to do almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Bernanke called for. On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy - even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.
Thus, it's not just the Mean Old Man Party that is delusional. It's everyone who still thinks this is your grandfather's GOP. It's not. Your grandfather's GOP had been twice humbled: first by the Great Depression, and second by being wrong about Hitler (both the isolationist and those who openly sympathized with him). Today's GOP is in deep denial about both, and the mean old men who run it just can't wait to destroy everything that FDR and his heirs have accomplished since 1932.
Anyone who mouths the "fair and balanced" narrative in times like these is either a fool or a knave. One side is out to destroy America, the other is trying to decide when, if and/or how to fight back. In the tiredest of cliches of the moment, it's time to man up. Not mean old man up.