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Monday, March 30, 2009

GOP House budget "blueprint" alternatives; GOP rising stars need a mutiny now!

Stayed up late to watch the tape I'd made earlier Sunday
of the first two hours of Little Dorrit on PBS' Masterpiece
Theatre while I was watching some things on C-SPAN,
and am now so wide awake, I thought that I'd try to
finish this so you can think about some of this Monday
morning.
The miniseries is fantastic, as this LA Times review
makes clear!

If the Herald or Sun-Sentinel were in the top rank of daily
newspapers, and actually had political writers who knew
anything about either economics or markets, or consumer
psychology for that matter, they'd have figured out some
way to make sure that some version of this very important
bit of news from Politico.com about Congressman Paul
Ryan actually made it into their print version.
Or, had actually ever mentioned Ryan before in a serious
and meaningful story.

I've checked their archives and -shocker!- they haven't.
There's no reason to imagine that's going to change
anytime soon, much less, before both papers are
kaput next year, as I fully expect, before July 4th,
2010.

Ryan and some colleagues -whose names you have
never read about in either paper or ever see on
network TV- did all the hard work in crafting together
an alternative budget to the White House plan.
Before they could polish it and release it, though,
someone else in the GOP House leadership panicked,
deciding that the GOP had to ignore what was actually
being worked on, and instead, responded to media criticism,
thereby releasing something this week just to meet some
sort of imaginary deadline in order to respond to Obama's
numbers.

(It's sort of like someone who sends an accusative
email when they're mad late at night, rather than
in writing it all out, but saving it to Draft so you
can look at it again the next morning when you've
presumably calmed down.
You know, like Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper
really should've done last summer, when she sent
HB civic activist Michael Butler and myself a crazy
rant full of mis-placed pique, mis-spellings and 'straw
men,' just because I'd sent him an email earlier asking
him to consider meeting me -and perhaps some
other HB residents- over the weekend at Starbucks
or Denny's, to talk about some of the problems in
the city we rightly attribute to her poor and faulty
leadership.
Someone -I have my strong suspicion!- forwarded
the letter to Cooper and then she sent her wacky
response out after midnight, usually NOT a good
idea!)

Instead of listening to what Rep. Paul Ryan and Minority
Whip Eric Cantor were saying, the GOP got spooked
and panicked, releasing a 19-page pamphlet that was
rightly mocked as a joke on the various cablenets and
by the Beltway press because it was, in fact, a joke.

(On weekends, I used to spend lots of time with friends
driving around Cantor's congressional district, which
includes large parts of the beautiful Virginia countryside
southwest of Arlington County and northwest of Richmond,
especially Culpepper and Spotsylvania.)

Why do the House GOP leaders keep engaging in
malignant self-destruction?
Why not actually let one of the the smart persons actually
doing the heavy-lifting, whom everyone respects -i.e. Ryan-
actually be the point person to release the GOP House
budget alternative, and answer the media's questions?
Because, call me crazy, it might actually turn out to be
a good idea to let the person who actually knows what's
what, answer the questions that House Minority Leader
John Boehner can't possibly know

The problem described in the Politico article is exactly
the sort of dysfunctional problem that will continue to
fester as long as someone with a such a bland personality
like John Boehner remains in charge of the GOP House.
He's like a TV weatherman, in that in the 15 years I was
in DC and on Capitol Hill, despite numerous opportunities,
he never once impressed me with his insight or originality.
Not once.

Instead, he always said exactly what you expect,
just like our TV weatherman:
"Warm with a chance of rain in the afternoon."

He's someone who never met an opportunity knocking
on the door that he didn't foolishly ignore.
Sometimes you actually have to open the door,
you know?

Boehner is the sort of person you'd actually want
running the Chamber of Commerce from a mid-size
Midwestern city with ambitions, or even a place like
Greater Fort Lauderdale for that matter.
The guy who everyone respects, who has professional
connections and who is always open to helping the
community, whether that's running the foundation
that helps gives underprivilged kids toys, money for
college, whatever.
What he isn't, though, is someone who should
ever be in front of TV cameras, talking policy!

When he walks into a hardware store, the brand
new tools in their shrink-wrapped packaging
even become DULLER!

As many of you may know from conversations with me,
I like Mike Pence -and not just because he's from
Indiana- but he is not without some major form/function
problems, too, and has really blown some opportunities
as well over the past few years, when he's either said
what I thought was the wrong thing at the wrong time,
or allowed a situation to roil by failing to respond quickly
enoughthe wrio.
I wonder if part of the problem is that for him to actually
succeed, they have to throw Boehner overboard, and
it's just not in his personality to do that.
The result is the House GOP drifts along like shipwrecked
passengers on a dinghy, trying desperately to figure out
which direction to row towards when there is not a spit
of land in sight.

Meanwhile, when the country really needs smart and
well-thought out alternatives to many of what I believe
are the Obama administration's very bad ideas and
policy prescriptions, they keep rowing in circles,
not willing to say aloud that the airline pilot may know
a lot about flying, but doesn't know a damn about
navigation from the perspective of the dinghy in the water.

As a moderate DLC Democrat, I don't think it does the
country any good for there not to be a reasonable check
and pushback on Obama's bad ideas and policies,
but I think those alternatives need to offer real solutions,
not simply be slogans for future congressional campaigns.

Republicans who care really ought to be calling for a
(Caine) Mutiny before they wind-up like Gilligans Island!
Stuck!

After reading the Politico article below, go to

House Republicans Unveil FY 2010 Budget Alternative

House Min. Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was joined
by several of his Republican colleagues at a press conference
on Capitol Hill during which they unveiled their alternative
to President Obama's FY 2010 budget.
Washington, DC : 15 min.

After that, watch the 15-minute segment I watched on
C-SPAN Sunday with Rep. Paul Ryan so you can see
how clearly and articulately he is in comparison.

Today's Highlights

Newsmakers

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Outlines the GOP Alternative Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Outlines the GOP Alternative Budget

Sunday

Our guest on Newmakers is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who discusses the Republican alternative to the FY 2010 Budget. The top Republican on the House Budget Cmte., Rep. Ryan outlines a “pro-growth” plan that limits borrowing and reduces the Federal debt. The alternative will be debated on the House Floor this week.

In case link above is messed up, it's at



March 26, 2009
Categories: House Republicans

Sources: GOP leaders split on budget "blueprint"

http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0309/Aides_Cantor_Ryan_objected_to_GOPs_budget_blueprint.html

----------------------------------------------------------
In case you missed it the first time, this George Will
column from October speaks volumes.

A Vote Against Rashness

By George F, Will, georgewill@washpost.com
His name was George F. Babbitt. He was 46 years old now, in April 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay.

-- Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922)

We are waist deep in evasions because one cannot talk sense about the cultural roots of the financial crisis without transgressing this cardinal principle of politics: Never shall be heard a discouraging word about the public.

Concerning which, a timeless political trope is: Government should budget the way households supposedly do, conforming outlays to income. But the crisis came partly because so many households decided that it would be jolly fun to budget the way government does, hitching outlays to appetites.

Beneath Americans' perfunctory disapproval of government deficits lurks an inconvenient truth: They enjoy deficits, by which they are charged less than a dollar for a dollar's worth of government. Conservatives participate in this, even though deficits fuel government's growth by obscuring its cost.

The people can emulate the government because credit has been democratized. Democratization of everything is supposedly an unquestionable good, but a blizzard of credit cards (1.5 billion of them, nine per cardholder), subsidized loans and cheap money has separated the pleasure of purchasing from the pain of paying. Furthermore, the entitlement mentality fostered by the welfare state includes a felt entitlement to a standard of living untethered from savings.

Populism flatters the people, contrasting their virtue with the alleged vices of some minority -- in other times, Jews or railroad owners or hard money advocates; today, the villain is "Wall Street greed," which is contrasted with the supposed sobriety of "Main Street." When people on Main Street misbehave by, say, buying houses for more than they can afford to pay, they blame the wily knaves who made them do it, such as the "nimble" Babbitt.

Knowing that heat breeds haste, errors and unintended consequences, George Washington praised the Senate as the saucer into which legislation is poured to cool. In this crisis, however, the House of Representatives has performed that function. Republicans, especially, slowed a Gadarene rush to ratify the deeply flawed original bailout legislation.

Voting against the bill -- against putting taxpayers' money at risk in order to clean up a mess that some people got rich by making -- was easy, but not necessarily wrong. The $700 billion figure exaggerated the plan's probable cost, but accurately measured something worse -- the enormous enlargement of government's power.

So the joint declaration by John McCain and Barack Obama that Congress should "rise above politics" was mere gas. The legislation touched elemental questions -- the meaning of justice, the parameters of freedom and the proper functions of government. Democrats charge that the crisis is market failure arising from an insufficiency of government, in the form of regulation. Well.

Suppose that in 1979 the government had not engineered the first bailout of Chrysler (it, Ford and GM are about to get $25 billion in subsidized loans). Might there have been a more sober approach to risk throughout corporate America?

Suppose there had never been implicit government backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Better yet, suppose those two had never existed -- there was homeownership before them, just not at a level that the government thought proper. Absent Fannie and Freddie -- absent government manipulation of the housing market -- would there have developed the excessive diversion of capital into the housing stock?

No presidential authority

The rising generation of thoughtful Republicans was represented on both sides of Monday's vote. Virginia's Eric Cantor, 45, and Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, 38, supported the legislation because they had helped to achieve substantial improvements in it, such as requiring financial institutions to help finance their bailout, giving the Treasury potentially valuable equity in firms revived by public funds and eliminating a slush fund for Democratic activists. Texas' Jeb Hensarling, 51, and Indiana's Mike Pence, 49, voted against what they considered a rescue model fundamentally flawed because (in Hensarling's words) it "could permanently and fundamentally change the role of government."

It is potentially catastrophic that this crisis comes in the context of a closely contested election and a collapse of presidential authority. Congress should disconnect from a public that cannot be blamed for being more furious about than comprehending of this opaque debacle. The public wanted catharsis, and respect for its center-right principles, and got both with Monday's House vote. It still needs protection against obliteration of the financial system.

See also:
Eric Cantor's congressional website: http://cantor.house.gov/index.htm
Eric Cantor's Whip Office website: http://www.republicanwhip.house.gov/

Paul Ryan's congressional website: http://www.house.gov/ryan/
His district includes Janesville, home of L.L. Bean,
as well as Racine, home of Johnson Wax, and Kenosha,
home of Snap-on and an important Chrysler engine plant,
which is currently laying-off employees for obvious reasons.

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