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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Courting Disaster

by digby

Mark Halperin is a dick . ..or a fool anyway. Here he is vomiting up the latest beltway CW on the jobs speech on Hardball today:

Matthews: Should Obama offer up something in the middle that the Republicans will at least nibble at or should he offer up something so broad and "New Deal" that they'll obviously reject it but the American people on the Democrats' side will love it. What should he do?

Halperin: Chris, I think he should do whatever ismost likely to create jobs. And my sense is, which has been true all year, is the thing that is most likely to create jobs is finding common ground between John Boehner and Barack Obama.

I think the way the speech has been led up to, the things that are likely to be in the speech, the Republicans' pre-reaction to what's going to be in the speech all suggest that this speech, even if it's brilliantly delivered is not going to produce the kind of bipartisanship that is required to get something approved by John Boehner, Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Just what does Mark Halperin think that John Boehner wants to do to create jobs? I know! Let's eliminate all corporate income taxes. Would that do it? No, probably not. We'll need something more than that. How about completely disbanding the EPA and firing all public employees? No? Right, Republicans are going to need a little bit more than that. The president literally falling on Ulysses S Grant's sword in the oval office in a prime time speech would certainly be a dramatic capitulation. Would that help? I didn't think so.

Have you ever heard anything more vacuous? Did he take a trip to mars during his MSNBC suspension and miss the whole debt ceiling debacle? Good lord. Barack Obama has been more than willing to give the Republicans everything they want no matter how much it hurts the economy or his own Party. It would be impossible for any President to be more accommodating to the opposition without actually joining them. And they still won't take yes for an answer.

But Halperin doesn't see it that way. When Matthews said that he was proposing that Obama set forth a bipartisan jobs plan that would be rejected, Halperin robotically replied:

I think they should have been consulting with the Republicans all along and I don't think it's too late. But to go in and give the speech that it seems he's going to give, offering up new spending, massive spending proposals with nothing on the other side that the Republicans could say was a trade off that would be worth taking for them, again is going to lead to the kind of gridlock and partisan bickering that isn't going to solve the problem.

If the president is more concerned with creating jobs than his reelection, and he should be, the way he's approached this and the way he's headed is not going to produce anything that will be approved by John Boehner and Harry Reid and by Barack Obama. And if the federal government is going to create jobs those guys all have to be on board.

I think the question is, "is Mark Halperin a human or a robot, programmed to say exactly the same thing no matter what the circumstances?" Inquiring minds and all that.

Matthews was intrigued, wondering if the president should go up to the Hill and begin a "courtship." ("Please baby, I'm so sorry I made you hit me. I promise I won't do it again.") Luckily, Jonathan Alter pointed out that it was a fools' errand and encouraged the president to lay out a case for an activist federal government and cited Roosevelt's pledge to put 250,000 young people to work in the national parks by the following summer (and he did it!)

Halperin replied that such a speech could be given next September and admitted that these proposals were probably the best way to put Americans back to work. However, none of this was going to pass so Obama should instead seek some mushy bullshit compromise that the Republicans will also reject because ... it's wrong for the President to be playing politics in the middle of this crisis.

Matthews suggested that perhaps the president could use the populist tone but just lay out some "small potatoes" with a date certain to get it done --- like the payroll tax extension, extending unemployment benefits and maybe some small infrastructure projects. Halperin replied that this sort of tone just won't work with the Republicans, although he did admit that he hadn't a clue about what would.

Then they just babbled on about how the whole thing was hopeless and Matthews ended with a good point about the idea of setting down some specific dates for the Republicans to meet on jobs:

It beats spending the next three months watching this Super Committee decide what to cut. Boy what a loser.

No kidding.

Meanwhile it looks like Matthews will get his potatoes:

People familiar with the White House deliberations on a jobs package say President Barack Obama is considering a plan totaling about $300 billion in tax cuts and spending for 2012.

Two of the biggest measures are expected to be a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and a continuation of unemployment benefits. Those items would total about $170 billion.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan was still being finalized and some proposals could be changed before Obama introduces his plan Thursday night in his address to Congress.

The White House is considering tax incentives for businesses that hire as well as spending for public works projects.

The package is designed to increase consumer demand, speed up infrastructure construction and spur hiring.

The sad thing is that these Republicans are getting ever loonier so it's not unlikely that they can't even pass any piece of that package --- UI will run out and payroll taxes will go up.

It's hard not to despair right now. This lunacy is overtaking the whole world. The UK's doubling down on austerity:

George Osborne has signalled that the government would stick to its hardline deficit reduction strategy despite being forced to revise down his growth forecasts for the economy following the slowdown of recent months.

The chancellor said the coalition's tax increases and spending restraint had been designed to allow interest rates to remain low — a clear hint that he would back a second round of money creation from the Bank of England through the quantitative easing process.

Speaking at Lloyd's of London, the chancellor said: "We warned repeatedly that the recovery would be choppy. And we set in train a plan that was comprehensive and clear in its vision, but also flexible enough to withstand shocks along the way.

"A plan for fiscal responsibility to bring unsustainable government borrowing under control, so that monetary activism can allow interest rates to stay lower for longer. The plan we have set out is designed in tough times for tough times. It is the rock of stability upon which any sustainable recovery depends and we will hold to it."

Right oh.

It's been determined that the riots were caused by hooligans and twitter users so no need to worry about the social ramifications of these policies. I'm quite sure everything will be just fine. Tough love, tough times, tough shit, and all that rot.