Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections

Introduction:  This is the third in a series of dashed off speculative opinions.  Normal procedure on the FM website for these topics would be 3 thousand word posts, supported by dozens of links.  I dont’ have the time to finish them, and too many of these outlines have accumulated in my drafts file.  Perhaps these will spark useful debate and research among this site’s readers. 

The Republican Party appears to have found an almost sure-fire tactic to sweep the November 2010 elections:  the worse, the better.  Obstruct everything, good or bad.  Offer compromises only to confuse your opponents.  The American people will blame Obama and the Democratic Party for the resulting disaster.

This tactical insight was a key part of Lenin’s strategy and is attributed to Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky. From Britannica (also see the Wikipedia entry):

(1828 – 1889) radical journalist and politician who greatly influenced the young Russian intelligentsia through his classic work What Is to Be Done? (1863). … Landowners accused him of stirring up class hatred; and, although the extent to which he was actively subversive is a matter of controversy, he was arrested in 1862.  After two years’ imprisonment he was exiled to Siberia, where he remained until 1883. … In the USSR he was considered by many to be a forerunner of Vladimir Lenin.

It’s brilliant and probably a winner, given…

  • Obama’s original error of too-small a stimulus in early 2009 (as Krugman and Delong warned),
  • Obama’s political inexperience (obviously not ready for the big chair), and
  • the successful propaganda about the efficacy of Hoover’s liquidationist economics (all those Econ 101 professors taught in vain).

If the Republicans win on a “stimulus is ineffective” and “deficits are bad” platform, what will they do if the economy has a second leg down (aka double dip recession, which often happens)?  Preach austerity?   Tactics that win might prevent success once in power.

For more information about conservatives and the Republican Party

  1. Let’s play “Name that Liberal”
  2. Let’s play round 2 of “Name That Liberal”
  3. Let’s play round 3 of “Name That Liberal”
  4. Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections, 5 February 2010
  5. Whose values do Dick and Liz Cheney share? Those of America? Or those of our enemies, in the past and today?, 14 March 2010
  6. The evolution of the Republican Party has shaped America during the past fifty years, 8 May 2010
  7. Two contrasting views of the Republican Party, 23 May 2010
  8. Will people on the right help cut Federal spending?, 19 June 2010
  9. Conservatives oppose the new START treaty, as they opposed even the earlier version negotiated by Ronald Reagan, 24 July 2010
  10. Why do Rep Ryan and the Republicans want to gut America’s military defenses?, 14 April 2011
  11. Why Conservatives are winning: they use the WMD of political debate, 28 April 2011

28 thoughts on “Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections”

  1. I really don’t understand this fascination with bi-partisinship and compromise. For example:

    If I am a Dem and one of my core beliefs is that unions must exist and be strong and be allowed to exercise their collective power without Government helping management. The Repubs are in power and introduce a bill. The bill is called the Union Empowerment Act and has many items in it that kind of look like an attempt to balance out the power between unions and management. However, one item requires union members to only have a strike votes at 4am on Tuesday’s with a full moon and another item requires all union leaders to get a 200% raise. The bill somewhat popular back home among the people (let’s say 47%-48%).

    Why should I compromise? I don’t even believe in the basic premise of the bill! But, all the other side will say is that I’m an obstructionist and the “party of no”.

    Frankly, if more members of Congress, in both houses and parties, stood on principle the bills passed would be much better legislation.

  2. Standing on the principle of “Pay me, or we all turn blue?” … “Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks”, TPM, 4 February 4, 2010 — Excerpt:

    Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold. “While holds are frequent,” CongressDaily’s Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), “Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal.” The magazine reported aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were the source of the news about Shelby’s blanket hold.

    Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to “all executive nominations on the Senate calendar.” According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama’s nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:
    – A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: “Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals.” Federal Times offers more details on the tanker deal, and also confirms its connection to the hold.
    – An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: “[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won’t build” the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based “at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.”

    So, this is a fiscal conservative?

  3. Here’s the exact same problem you’re talking about, seen from another angle: “Why bipartisanship can’t work: the expert view“, blog post, James Fallows, The Atlantic, Feb. 1, 2010. Excerpt:

    “Bipartisanship in the American sense means compromising on legislation so that a sufficient number of members of Congress from BOTH parties will support it, even if (as is typically the case) a few majority party members defect and most minority party members don’t join. Bipartisanship consists of getting ENOUGH members of the minority party to join the (incomplete) majority in voting for major legislation. It can’t happen if the minority party members vote as a block against major legislation. And that can happen only if the minority party has the ability to discipline its ranks so that none join the majority, which is the unprecedented situation we’ve got in Congress today.

  4. Has the GOP decided to throw a tantrum and hope that our federal government disintegrates? Have “movement conservatives” decided that, no matter how clever, stubborn, and morally superior they may be, there are not enough of them to prevail in any other way?

  5. FM you are quite right about what they are doing. The link below to a paper on Regime change through Policy Failure will show in detail how to do it. Even though it is an Air Force paper it has little to do with bombing anything: “Regime Change and the Role of Airpower“, DAVID T. FAHRENKRUG (Major, USAF), School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, August 2006 — Abstract:

    Drawing from the vision of airpower theorists and building on insights gained from studies on various regime changes, this thesis advances a theory of regime change and outlines a strategy for the use of airpower. To remain in power, regimes must continue to provide goods to the group of people responsible for its rise to power—the winning coalition. Different types of regimes rely on different types of goods to satisfy their winning coalition. This thesis advances the hypothesis that adversely affecting these goods will create policy failure, increase dissatisfaction among the winning coalition, and cause members to seek out a new coalition and regime to provide the lost goods. Additionally, since many regimes supply goods to third parties to retain their support, an additional hypothesis was introduced to account for the influence of international support. Analysis of an American and South Vietnamese regime change demonstrated that overthrowing a particular type of regime is directly related to attacks on certain types of goods, thus providing a better model for airpower strategists planning a regime change. The theory outlined in this thesis is founded on theoretical limits for regime types—and few regimes actually exist at these extremes. Still, the more democratic a regime, the more airpower should focus on public goods. Conversely, the more autocratic a regime, the more airpower should attack private goods.

  6. Reminds me of a Mencken quote:

    “Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right… The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.”

    FM reply: Typical Mencken! But not really true. Most of the major legislation in America’s history was bipartisan. For example, look at Reagan’s first term. Major changes, most with a large degree of support from Democratic Party members of Congress.

  7. FM: “…the successful propaganda about the efficacy of Hoover’s liquidationist economics (all those Econ 101 professors taught in vain).”

    FM, you can’t be serious. I highly doubt the average American ponders Depression-era economics.

    The fact that the Republicans were “obstructionist” was irrelevant last year. Obama: “We won.” The Dems had the White House and the Congress (with a supermajority in the Senate) and still couldn’t do anything but pass massive pork and bailouts for the usual suspects. No hard choices.
    FM reply: People have an opinion about the stimulus, which results from propaganda about Hoover (you see dozens of such comments on this site) and liquidationist economics in general. It clearly shows in public opinion surveys (e.g., this CNN poll in January). This is aided by gross overselling of the effects of the stimulus by Obama in Spring 2009. A typical tyro’s mistake.

  8. Oh and let’s not forget the corruption: The Louisiana Purchase, the Nebraska Compromise, etc., etc.
    FM reply: I have no idea what you are saying here. Neither of these are corrupt in the usual meaning of the word (“bribe: make illegal payments to in exchange for favors or influence”).

  9. Obstruction is a valid approach when what you are obstructing is opposed by the majority of the voters. The health care plan is still about 38% – 52% against (source)

    Cap and trade is opposed and will negatively affect the economy.

    The stimulus package did not suffer from being too small. It suffered because Pelosi and Reid saw it as a slush fund to reward favored interests. “Shovel Ready” was a lie. It takes a long time to get projects through the bureaucracy. The only part of the stimulus that increased economic activity were the tax cuts which increased GDP in Q2 2009.

    Do not underestimate the tea parties. They consist of a mix of Republicans, Independents, and conservative Democrats. Politicians who respond to their concerns on deficits, spending, and taxes will reap the reward of votes.
    FM reply: Obstructionism is bad when it includes almost every policy measure. And your understanding of the dynamics of stimulus spending is wrong. See Dr. Bush, stabilize the economy – stat! for a brief explanation. Any spending helps (different forms help more, of course). The difference in spending matters when it comes to paying back the debt, after the recovery. For more see:
    Everything you need to know about government stimulus programs (read this – it’s about your money)
    * Economists discuss the impact of the stimulus on our recession
    * Government economic stimulus is financial heroin

    ” “Shovel Ready” was a lie”

    I don’t know what you mean by this, but actual spending is matching original projections. In this nation large projects take a decade or more to bring from plan to completion. Consider Hoover Dam, pre-dating most of today’s paperwork. The planning for Hoover Dam began in the early 1920’s. The enabiling legislation was signed in 1928. Construction started in 1931. On a crash basis, resulting in hundreds of deaths (96 by the official count), it was completed in 1936.

  10. Actually there is a way for the republicans to come back to power, increase their proportion of the white vote. This would mean not siding so much with neoconservatives and business conservatives when it comes to foreign policy and trade. And it would involve real immigration enforcement and border security among other things.

    But I don’t think this will happen. Republicans talk a good talk when they are not in power, but fail to deliver when they have it, except for the aforementioned conservative groups.
    FM reply: It will not happen because the Repubican Party elites are not free agents looking to maximize their political power or achive ideological ends. Remember the great rule coined by Brad Delong: “the Cossacks work for the Czar.”

  11. Start a constitutional convention to abolish the Senate, moving all its powers to the House. I don’t suppose the tea party convention goers will take this one up. The Senate certainly is not democratic.

    At this point we would have the house health care bill signed, but on the flip side, the rather corrupt carbon trading bill. Another big change would probably be the end of US protectionist farm policy.

    It seemed to me (at least in my lifetime) the Senate started to go wrong when the Bork nomination was turned down for what seemed to me at the time to be a combination of Robert Bork speaking his mind and partisan politics.
    FM reply: The search for mechanical solutions to our political problems (abolish the Senate) is IMO an evasion of our responsibilty. As if there is some system that will work by itself while we watch TV (for more on this see “A Machine that Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture” by Michael G. Kammen.

    As for the Senate, its a symptom not the problem. For more on this see:
    What comes after the Constitution? Can we see the outline of a “Mark 3″ version of the United States?
    More about the tottering structure of the American political regime
    And this by James Fallows: “On whether America is going to hell“, blog of The Atlantic, 12 January 2010.

  12. The Massachusetts election appears to be chickens coming home to roost for the Democratic supermajority and presidential incompetency.

    If the Republicans behave now as the Democrats did when they were out of power, should we cry “foul!” only against the republicans, as FM appears to be doing? Obama and the Democrats are poisoning the well of reasoned discourse with their lack of transparency and heavy-handed maneuvering.

    Democracy is rule of the mob, which is death to reason.

    If you drink the Krugman and DeLong Koolaid, there is no reasoning with you.
    FM reply: How nice that you have such an opinion of democracy. I suggest that you emmigrate somewhere with a system more to your liking, while the rest of us get on with the business of running America. Which will continue to survive and prosper, as it has for 2 centuries despite skeptics like yourself.

    “If you drink the Krugman and DeLong Koolaid, there is no reasoning with you.”

    They’re famous and distinguished economists, abeit highly politicized ones. If you believe this over-the-top statement, then your conclusion IMO applies to you (as in, when you point 3 fingers point back at yourself).

  13. “Obstruct everything” I have an Aussie friend who was a 50’s radical. Called herself a “Troskyite” Went to public meetings and made an outrageous demand. Being reasonable people, the leaders of the meeting would try to accommodate her, whereupon she would follow up with a more outrageous demand. She said it’s easy to obstruct the democratic process and it is, if you have a plan and people either don’t understand what you are trying to do or aren’t clever enough to use Robert’s Rules to neuter you. Robert Byrd was a master of the Senate because of his knowledge of its arcane rules by which he could confound his opponents. We need more confounding and less compromise.

  14. Chernyshevsky is wonderful, but I doubt that someone coming from autocratic Russia would come up with electoral tactical insight! Have you got some kind of source for your assertion, plus any example that Lenin used such tactics.
    FM reply: It’s not an electoral tacic, but a broad one that can be applied in many ways. Blowing up things to plunge a society into chaos, for example. As for Lenin, it’s a commonplace in most biographys of Lenin. Or look at the Google references here.

  15. I have enjoyed your recent posts about propaganda and appreciate your efforts to expose it for what it is. Regrtetfully, many of the message threads on this site are good examples of it efficacy. Two specific comments:

    From No. 1: “I really don’t understand this fascination with bi-partisinship and compromise.” and “Why should I compromise?”
    Because nearly 95% of all issues can be negotiated to a satisfactory conclusion; because at least 85% of all negotiated resolutions are superior to any obtained by “fighting”; and because negotiation is much cheaper and quicker, and most importantly, more conclusive than “fighting”.

    From No. 9: “The health care plan is still about 38% – 52% against:”
    Specific propaganda has specific targets, as in No. 9 a version of the health care plan. But the underlying purpose of all propaganda is to in some fashion attack the ability to negotiate.

    Certainly there are specific provisions of the various health care reform plans, including ones proposed by republicans, that would significantly improve the present health care situation. To make these improvements the centerpiece of a reform bill should be simple.

    The change from the status quo would be incremental; and the bill would be 25 pages or less. Because the “smallness” of the changes will permit the general public to clearly understand the broad benefits of the reforms, it would be very difficult for vested interests and their propagandists to oppose.

    But first there has to be some negotiation.

  16. Burke G Sheppard

    The central political fact in the country right now is the unemployment rate, and the Democrats will get hammered for it in November. Any party in power would be, and this would be true even if McCain had won. (And had he done so, unemployment would still be just as high.)

    The Republicans haven’t been obstructing anything. You can’t obstruct diddly squat with 40 Senate seats, and they won’t be obstructing much more than that with 41, given that Obama clearly hasn’t got a clue what to do about the economy. There’s quite simply nothing for them to obstruct, even if they were inclined to do so.

    What has obstructed Obama is the corruption in his own party combined with his decision to try to ram through health care on a party line vote. every Democratic Senator could hold out his or her hand to demand more bribes, and the scale and blatancy of the corruption alarmed and dismayed the public. Frankly, Obama could have bought a few Republicans for less. They’re not as expensive as all that.

  17. It’s really quite simple. Read Niall Ferguson’s contention that the real interest rates are going to increase, compelling reducing confidence in the US Treasuries and in turn reducing defence expenditures, leading to the American Empire’s decline. The whole argument that deficits are bad rests on whether they’re painless deficits or not; and that depends to no small extent on the People’s Bank of China’s Treasury subscriptions.
    If China were to lose faith in US fiscal management (that has already perhaps happened), what are their choices? Since they’ve committed a 40-45% reduction in emissions by 2020, a lot of their resources are going to be expended to make that happen. And they’ll not be able to make much use of their newly built oil pipeline straight from Kazakhstan to Guangdong.
    The only reason the rest of the world is lending to Americans by way of denominating their reserves in dollars is that they’re dependent on imported oil. Once that goes away, they can focus on domestic development rather than export oriented growth. But that will take much more than a decade to go away.
    The real question is, what are Americans going to do with the decade or so that they’ve bought through the climate change accord? Are they going to increase their savings rate? Are they going to prepare for a world of no more painless deficits, while they still have some time to prepare?
    FM reply: All of this is to a large degree factually wrong.

    ‘Read Niall Ferguson’s contention that the real interest rates are going to increase”
    Ferguson is a historian – not an economist. If he had a record of forecasting economic events (which he does not), I suspect it would be poor.

    “If China were to lose faith in US fiscal management’
    China buys US debt in order to peg the value of its currency, the keystone of its export strategy. Their faith or lack thereof in the US government is almost irrelevant, as they don’t hold US dollar debt as an investment. They’ll sell it when useful for them to do so.

    “Since they’ve committed a 40-45% reduction in emissions by 2020”
    Those sort of promises are like the US government’s promises to balance the budget, made every two years since the 1960’s.

    “a lot of their resources are going to be expended to make that happen”
    I doubt you can support this statement to any useful degreee.

    “The only reason the rest of the world is lending to Americans by way of denominating their reserves in dollars is that they’re dependent on imported oil”
    False. I mentioned China (and the other Asian dollar-pegged nations) above. Also, the Gulf States (and more generally, OPEC) have most of their foreign exchange reserves in US dollars. These two groups are the largest buyers of US dollar debt.

    “they’ve bought through the climate change accord”
    There was no meaningful “climate change accord.” It was toothless, by design.

  18. Shhhhh! Don’t mention the oil. Uhhh, look, it’s a deficit under the bed! And in the closet too! There’s another one, uh oh.

  19. FM, with regards to all your writings on the military, wars, etc I’d like to quote 264 words from Osho that I think are truly magical. Please move to another location on your blog as appropriate.

    {FM note: this is from “Osho: The Last Testament, Volume 1, Chapter 21”, the origin website gives an Internet Explorer warning, so I have not linked to it. Here is Osho’s Wikipedia entry.}

    “My influence is diametrically opposite to Adolf Hitler. The older generation may be afraid. They have seen Adolf Hitler, they have seen his great influence, they have seen people becoming almost mad after him. And he himself was a retarded mind. He himself was not intelligent at all, just a third-rate person. He was refused admission to schools, colleges. He was refused admission to the university — he wanted to learn architecture. Then, seeing everywhere rejection — nobody could think him capable of anything great — he joined the army.
    That was the last resort of all the idiots, of all the fools, of all the stupid minds. The army is the last resort: you don’t need intelligence. In fact, intelligence is a barrier in becoming a good soldier. Just as a retarded person cannot become a sannyasin, an intelligent person cannot become a soldier. What does it mean to become a soldier? It means you have accepted death as your profession. You don’t have any sensitivity for what you are doing. For a little salary and employment you have accepted to murder innocent people, children, women, old people who have done no harm to you, to whom you are not even introduced.
    This needs something of a very low kind of person, almost the animal. Physically he looks like a human being, mentally he is not. And these people have fought all the wars. Of course, when you want to kill people you have to be ready to be killed any moment. They have not only sold their intelligence and their freedom into the hands of some dictator, for just a little employment they have become murderers. And simultaneously they have accepted for that little salary to be suicidal also, because in war it is not necessarily so that you will only kill and you will not be killed.
    So those leaders were emphasizing, “Be ready to kill or be killed. The stake is great: the nation’s pride, the race and its ego, the religion and its messiah.” All these people have been teaching you just death, either somebody else’s or your own.”

  20. FM: “China buys US debt in order to peg the value of its currency, the keystone of its export strategy.

    Me: This is a fundmentally wrong imperialist belief that many Americans, including “leading experts” either genuinely hold, or propagate for their convenience. China, or any other country, would simply love to focus completely on their domestic expansion and development. But these countries are dependent on imports, and unlike the US they can’t imports with their own currency. So they hoard their savings in dollars, and hope to be free from the dollar hegemony some day.
    FM reply: Truly bizarre the way you just make stuff up.
    * China’s leaders discuss the value of the RMB in terms of its effect on trade, and make almost no mention of the need to hold dollars to cover imports.
    * China runs a trade surplus, which means they need not tap reserves to pay for imports.
    * If you were correct, the composition (by currency) of China’s foreign exchange reserves would match that of their imports. Instead they hold mostly US dollars.
    * China has aprox $2.8 trillion in reserves, and imports aprox $1 trillion/year. So if their exports went to zero, their reserves would cover 3 years of imports (source). That’s quite a storehouse, esp as it’s exposed to losses from the almost inevitable devaluation of the US dollar.

  21. #20. The Universal Soldier song …
    versus ” They came for the Jews and I did nothing ..”
    Despite having the Universal Soldier , they came for Aristide , the Tutsis , the Sbenricans ( spp ), etc .
    Now if we set the world’s historians , religious scholars , psychologists , social scientists , musicians , economists , researching peace , could we step foreward as we have with cancer treatment , or electronics , or military equipment ?

  22. The counter-argument to this thesis involves the fact that Republicans have diligently destroyed their own candidates by subjecting them to fanatical litmus tests. This results in such extreme reactionary candidates that not even the current Republican primary voters can stomach them. The Scozzafava contest represents the best example of this to date.

    The question now revolves around whether the Brown senate special election represented a special case, or a broader trend. Given the string of recent Republican losses — in the case of Dede Scozzafava, handing over a congressional seat which had remained securely in Republican hands for more than a century to Democrats — it seems at least as likely that the Republicans will field such crazy candidates in November that the voters will repudiate ’em en masse.

    Reports of massive Republican gains this fall may be greatly exaggerated. Time will tell.
    FM reply: Agreed. As you note, we’ll have to see who wins this fight for control of the Republican Party.

  23. OK, let me take another shot at it. I don’t see “obstructionism” from the Republicans. I see serious policy differences. As I mentioned earlier, the incredible increase in spending, cap and trade, and the national health care initiative are all valid policy differences. You also may remember the Democrats opposed many Republican initiatives when the Republicans were inb control. Dood, Frank, and Waters dismissal of attempts to rein in Freddia and Fannie come to mind. That was a policy difference.

    I personally oppose the major Obama policies and am glad the Republican’s chose to object. However, if Obama is truly serious about nuclear and off shore drilling, we can expect Republicans to support that, while Democrats “obstruct”. Some of the Republican opposition is merely for show. Extending the national debt limit is one, but that increasing debt limit does need to stop. At $14.9 trillion, we are over annual GDP. That is not good. But, remember, until the Brown election, the Republicans could do little effective obstruction.

    As far as shovel ready goes, when there were objections to the stimulus as taking too long to roduce stimulus, we were met by the cry from Pelosi and other Democrat that these would be “shovel ready” projects that were awaiting funding. It was irrational to believe that because “shovel ready” pretty much implied funding was committed or at least identified. Otherwise, the project would not have gotten too far. I agree with you that government projects take a long time to work the way through the system and actually begin. That is why public works kinds of projects do not work well for a stimulus. They miss the timing. It is also true much of the stimulus money was designed to spent around the upcoming elections. But, that had little to do with stimulus and a lot to to with elections. Stll, I wonder then, why Obama is now claiming he needs another “jobs” bill, but will not call it stimulus. It appears stimulus is now a dirty word.

    I have looked at your references, but I did not follow their internal references. I suspect that would have resulted in a week’s effort. There are a number of places where we agree and, as expected, other places where we do not agree. I really disagree with Mark Zandi’s table. As I said earlier, even Rhomer ascribes a 1.5 multiplier for permanent tax cuts. I am not at all sure where Zandi is coming from. As I recall, the Austrians posit 1.0 or less to government spending.

    Comment 23 is a complete misinterpretation. Scozzafava was to the left of everyone in the race. Owen broke about 5 of his campaign promises the day he was sworn in. Scozzafava endorsed Owen. In spite of all that Hoffman, running on the conservative line only, just about pulled off the win. I suspect Owen will be gone in 2010. I take no lesson from the Owen win other than one should vet your candidate before sending money.
    FM reply: This is mostly wrong, but it’s clear that citing evidence is wasted on you. If you would provide some references a reply might be warranted. (Excerpt: I don’t know anthing about comment 23 and that election).

    “I really disagree with Mark Zandi’s table”
    Charming. Any thoughts about the latest work in quantum mechanics?

    “even Rhomer ascribes a 1.5 multiplier for permanent tax cuts.”
    The multipliers from stimulus measures are not fixed (as discussed in the Fed paper I cite), but vary over time depending on the circumstances when used and their exact form. For example, “tax cuts” is too broad to mean much in this context. What tax: estate, wages, income, capital gains, sales? From what to what (e.g., peak marginal income tax rate from 80% to 60%, or 40% to 20%)? Hence the debate about estimates of recent actions and forecasts of future results.

    “permanent tax cuts”

    With the Federal government running a large and persistent deficit — and massive spending ahead for retirement and health care — I doubt you can meaningfully speak of a permanent tax cut without the audience laughing. Without massive structural change in the government, that means “permanent increase in borrowing.”

  24. Wait, what? You don’t see obstructionism from the Republicans?


    Filibustering every single bill isn’t obstructionism…?

  25. “Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?”

    More evidence that the GOP are following Lenin’s advice: the worse for America, the better for the them.

    GOP grumbles about jobs plan“, Politico, 11 September 2011 — Opening:

    House Republicans may pass bits and pieces of President Barack Obama’s jobs plan, but behind the scenes, some Republicans are becoming worried about giving Obama any victories — even on issues the GOP has supported in the past. And despite public declarations about finding common ground with Obama, some Republicans are privately grumbling that their leaders are being too accommodating with the president.

    “Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?” said one senior House Republican aide who requested anonymity to discuss the matter freely.

  26. Lenin describes the current political situation in America

    Mike Lofgren (a former long-time Republican Senate staffer) comments about the current political scene in America — from James Fallows column at The Atlantic:

    Beyond those legal points {about Obama’s recess appointment} lies the larger political context. Four years ago, you could be sure that if President Bush had made a recess appointment when the Senate was in pro forma session, the liberal blogosphere would have been incandescent with rage. It’s always that way.

    Contemporary politics follows the template of Vladimir Lenin’s basic precept: kto-kogo, literally “who-whom,” meaning who does what to whom. Lenin believed that revolutionary violence committed by the vanguard of the proletariat (a group conveniently defined by him alone) was legitimate. Violence committed against the vanguard of the proletariat, on the other hand, was illegitimate.

    That’s what Washington has become: if our side makes dodgy recess appointments, it is for the greater good (as we define it); if the other side uses the same tactics, it’s an outrage against nature and the sacred Constitution. We all practice in-group favoritism in everyday life and in our ideological preferences, but we must make a conscious effort not to let it degenerate into chronic double-think. As for statutes and their interpretation by courts, their whole purpose is to apply consistent rules and restrain such irrational favoritism. The real culprit is that partisan politics has driven out comity and good faith to such an extent that the occasion even arises that recess appointments of this nature must occur.

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