We all know that RP and MSNBC’s “The Cycle” co-host Krystal Ball loves to talk politics all over MSNBC. She is not afraid to dish out her opinion about what is going on in the political world. But, did you know that her five-year-old daughter enjoys talking politics as well? Like her mom, Krystal’s daughter Ella is not shy to voice her opinion when it comes to President Obama, what is happening in Washington, and even her thoughts on Mitt Romney.
New GDP numbers were released last week. For the first time since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, the economy actually shrank. And things were just starting to look pretty solid! What the heck happened? You know, I actually think the Gipper may have an answer here.
Yeah. Pretty much. Look deeper at the GDP numbers and it becomes clear that government really is the problem here. Consumer spending was up. Business spending on equipment was way up and housing investment was also way up. Sooo…. What gives?
Defense spending in particular was dramatically pared back in the last months of 2012. Businesses also depleted their inventories but that’s no big deal since consumer spending was up and they’ll have to restock at some point. The real story here is cuts in federal spending. This is what austerity looks like, my friends. At a time when our recovery is still on shaky legs, cuts in federal spending could easily send us right back into a recessionary tailspin. In fact, if federal spending had just remained even, we would have had over 1% growth. Not amazing but positive territory.
But you might say, this is probably a one-time deal right? After all, we had the whole fiscal cliff situation and they were probably preparing for the sequester cuts that were supposed to take effect in January.
That’s all true but it’s also not the whole story. Take a look at this chart. Since the beginning of 2009, the private sector has been in positive territory, consistently contributing to economic growth. Meanwhile the private sector has mostly been a drag with this final quarter being one of the most dramatic examples.
What’s more, we’ve just ended the payroll tax cut so middle-class folks will have less money in their pockets and may very well start spending less. We’ve also still got large sequester cuts on the horizon that could drive public spending down even further, and Republicans still seem to think it might be fun to use a government shutdown or debt ceiling crisis to force further cuts. You guys sure know how to show a girl a good time.
Look, there’s no question that over the long term, we’ve got to balance budgets and pay down our debts. But short term deficit hawkishness is hurting us badly. Our problem is not relief for storm victims or Federal money for family planning services, it’s a tax base that is too low to support rising health care costs and an aging population over the long term. Let’s deal with those problems over the long term. But for now, Congress, how about we just try to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot. I know blaming government for a lack of spending is not the type of blaming government that the GOP enjoys, but in lean times it’s the only type of blaming government we can afford. You know, what would really be great is some stimulus but I understand that’s probably too much to ask. For now, let’s just keep the government from reversing the private sector-led recovery that’s already underway.
Yesterday the President warned Congressional Republicans not to mess with him and the country when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.
Oh debt ceiling. If I had to describe you in one word, it would be seducer. That’s right…seducer, you naughty debt ceiling, you. Members of Congress got together and gorged themselves at the table of deficit spending, ordering up Porterhouse sized tax cuts for their rich friends and a heaping helping of extended unemployment benefits for their out of work neighbors.
Now the bill comes due and when it’s time to whip out the national credit card, you whisper your sweet nothings into the Tea Party’s ear and the GOP threatens to dine and dash as a matter of “principle.” After all, who wants to put $16 trillion on the national credit card? Who is pro-debt? No one. GOP extremists get to pretend they are the adults in the room, railing about spending that has already happened and that they agreed to. And the best part, you naughty naughty debt ceiling, you offer them the chance to get some more goodies in the form of more tax cuts for their rich benefactors or the righteous thrill of cutting Medicaid assistance from those Obama-loving takers.
For nearly a hundred years now, you were this boring, nondescript wallflower, never drawing attention to yourself. When Congress, through spending and tax cuts, came up against your limits, you were raised without a word…they barely gave you a second glance. Sure it was a waste of time to have to deal with you but waste of time is what Congress does! You’ve been raised 74 times since the 60’s, 18 times under Reagan alone!
You saw wars, peace, a man on the moon, and no matter how you batted your fiscal eyelashes, nobody cared. Invisible. Now, all of the sudden, the Tea Partiers can’t keep their hands off you.
Like a case of fiscal syphilis you now put the entire body in peril. Yes, I know this disease is no fault of your own. Congressional Republicans have decided that consequences be damned: threatening the country with national default by refusing to lift you (after having already voted to cut taxes and spend until you absolutely must be raised) is a useful tool for getting their way. I know you love all the attention, but seriously, debt ceiling, this isn’t a harmless flirtation.
I know you think that no sane person or party would actually cause a national default for the sake of a temper tantrum and the chance for a few extra fiscal goodies, the chance to cop a fiscal feel, if you will. But alas, we have looked into their eyes, and they actually seem crazy enough to do it.
And so dear debt ceiling, it’s time to say goodbye. You can’t seduce our Congress any more with your promises of phony courage and self-righteous hostage taking…the gig’s up, dear, but I do know this great looking bunch in China that we’d love for you to meet.
By Krystal Ball, on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM ET
Krystal Ball’s rant this week from MSNBC’s “The Cycle”:
Krystal’s daughter Ella
Just listen to that good old-fashioned common sense. You know, really breaks our government problems down for the common man in that classically patronizing yet wholly inaccurate way that politicians seem to excel at. There are a lot of lame talking points out there, but this one probably drives me the most nuts. And while I mostly hear it from Republicans, far too many of my own have fallen for its folksy kitchen table appeal. Here’s the problem.
First off, how much like the federal government is your household really? Granted, things may be a bit different in your home than mine but we haven’t had a whole lot a luck getting anyone to accept our family currency. And the international markets? They’ve turned their nose up at buying our bonds. When we have borrowed money, it sure wasn’t at 1.5% like US Treasuries. I will say, sometimes our neighbors do get a bit out of hand but I think a drone strike might be a bit over the top. In fairness, my daughter did attempt a Mitch McConnell style filibuster but it didn’t really work out for her.
And actually, even if you did pretend that your household worked exactly like the largest most complex government in the world, the analogy still doesn’t make any sense! You may not have noticed but our families buy things on credit all the time. Especially at this time of year. Plenty of families take on long term debt for things like, I don’t know, a house? Or an education? In other words, investments for the future. Hey! That does actually sound like something the federal government should do. Businesses borrow too! So don’t give me this nonsense about how for families and business owners the revenues and expenses have to add up every year. They don’t. My family and many others have yet to pass a balanced budget amendment.
Finally, come on y’all. Have a little bit of creativity!!! I know you’re trying to break things down in a way that regular folk can relate to, I get it. But every time I hear a politician or pundit use this tired hokey worn-out analogy it’s like they think they’re the one who birthed this brilliant thing. Certainly everyone will be won over by their winning wit and creativity. Guys. The gig’s up. We’ve heard this patronizing, illogical, trope about 1 million times. I’m begging you. Please stop. Time to come up with some new material. Or better yet, actually have enough respect and faith in the American people that we can wrap our little minds around the big problems facing the country. Trust me. If y’all can understand it, we can too.
ICYMI, yesterday afternoon, The RP was the special guest on MSNBC’s hot new afternoon talk show, The Cycle, co-hosted by The RP’s friend — and contributing recovering politician — Krystal Ball.
After Krystal kindly promoted a certain spectacular year-and-a-half-old Web site, The RP gave a spirited defense of No Labels, the grassroots movement he co-founded that now involves more than 500,000 Americans in efforts to promote bi-partisan problem-solving as a means to fix our broken political system.
If you haven’t had the chance, please be sure to check out the No Labels Web site, and if you support their mission, sign on to the important cause.