GOP gets Obama to swap JFK for Don Knotts



The charade played out last week by Obama and congressional honchos trying to keep the government clunking along was kind of pitiful, and very revealing. Pitiful, because what else do you call a national government that has sunk to the current level of dysfunction? Revealing, in two ways. One, Obama continues to confirm that he’s not the transformative, bold figure we thought we were voting for in 2008. His performance during this recent budget mess — in which his promised bold leadership devolved into service as moderator of a debate between Sens. Harry Reid and John Boehner — made it seem that he was officially trading in his JFK wannabe image for that of another '60s celebrity: Don Knotts.

The other revelation was that GOP leaders in D.C. aren’t all that serious about deficit reduction to begin with. The two sides agreed to $38 billion in cuts over the next six months, which everyone involved, of course, portrayed as a huge achievement and a beacon of hope for the nation’s economy, blahblahblah. But one little thing was conveniently forgotten during the hoopla: The budget could have included an extra $150 billion in revenue over the same time period. How? By letting Bush’s tax cuts for the super-rich expire as scheduled. Instead, the GOP adamantly opposed the idea, clamoring on and on about how higher taxes would hurt the multimillionaires’ plans to “create jobs.”  Those would be the same jobs, I presume, that were created by grateful corporate chieftains over the past few years as a result of the very same tax cuts. “Tax cuts for the rich = more jobs for everyone” — it’s one of the GOP’s lasting mantras, and it’s a bald-faced lie, a grim, dug-up zombie version of the Reagan era fantasy about trickle-down economics.

Which brings us back to how pitiful last week’s bluster really was: When the deal went down, Obama praised the arrangement, comparing it to — you guessed it — his agreement late last year to extend the Bush tax cuts. So, to sum up, the government was nearly shut down in order to make $38 billion in spending cuts, while the GOP and the Obama administration had already canceled out those cuts — three to four times over — by throwing away revenue to the Bush tax cuts. Like I said, what a charade, and what a pitiful excuse for real leadership.


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