Posted by: mutantpoodle | January 9, 2009

Credibility follies

It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee, because if I had succumbed to that habit way back when, the interior of my car would have been coated this morning around 8:20, as I heard these words from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “I think we’re all sobered by the deficit figures that have come out.”

Really.

Well, Mitch (can I call you Mitch?), you weren’t sobered by the prospect of massive deficits when you voted for George Bush’s massive tax cuts, and you didn’t seem to be worried about massive deficits when you opposed any form of tax increase to cover the costs of, you know, TWO WARS that are the most important thing EVAH in United States history, so perhaps it’s a bit difficult to take you- what’s the word I’m looking for here – seriously.

But that’s not all. McConnell goes on to burnish his clueless credentials with this gem: “…putting more money in the pockets of taxpayers is likely to be stimulative.”

Oh, Mitch. The problem right now isn’t necessarily the money that is or isn’t in the pockets of taxpayers. The money is that this country is losing taxpayers at an alarming rate. Just as cutting the capital gains tax won’t make people more flush when there aren’t any, you know, capital gains, cutting taxes for ordinary Americans who are scared to death about whether they’re job is next on the chopping block isn’t likely to inspire them to do anything other than sock it away.

That’s why the government will need to spend big, and now, on projects that will employ people who will simply spend money on the basics. It would be nice if we managed to protect states from having to shorten school years, or lay off teachers, firemen and policemen – all of whom put money into the economy, as well as contribute to our society in significant ways as well.

McConnell goes on in this NPR piece to defend his relevance, noting that “Senate Republicans represent half the population.” Which is true: the U.S. Population is just over 300 million (I’m excluding DC and Puerto Rico, as they don’t have Senate representation), and Republicans have at least one Senator in states with combined population of 158 million – about 52%.

However, by that measure, Democrats represent 238 million Americans – 78% of the country. States that are only represented by Democratic Senators (New York and California being the biggest) represent 146 million Americans – just shy of half the U.S population. States with only Republican Senators (Texas being the biggest): 61 million – 20% of the country.

You can slice data lots of ways, but there aren’t many ways of looking at this data that say that today’s Republican Party is doing anything but representing a shrinking portion of the electorate.

But I digress. I wouldn’t mind so much McConnell chipping in his $.02 if it that wasn’t exactly what his contribution is worth.

If the GOP is on life support, it’s because it came up with a brilliant political strategy for a particular time – 1980 -and keeps thinking that, by golly, if only we try hard enough, we can make this work again.

Football teams used to win with Defensive linemen who weighed less than 250 pounds. Important documents used to take a day to get from one coast to the other. No one could beat George Foreman, until Muhammad Ali took his best shots for seven rounds and knocked him out in the eighth.

Times change, and until the Republican party figures that out, and figures out that people aren’t so much worried about how much they’re paying in taxes as whether they’re going to have income to pay taxes on, they’re going to be an irrelevant distraction and should be treated as such. If they have good ideas for how to spend stimulus money, come on down.

But if all they want is more of the tax breaks that have deepened the chasm between rich and poor in this country, there’s no reason anybody should take them seriously.

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