On Purpose — Michael Cohen of The Guardian makes the case that the Republicans are purposely tanking the economy to prevent the re-election of Barack Obama.
In recent days, Democrats have started coming out and saying publicly what many have been mumbling privately for years – Republicans are so intent on defeating President Obama for re-election that they are purposely sabotaging the country’s economic recovery. These charges are now being levied by Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid and Obama’s key political adviser, David Axelrod.
For Democrats, perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence of GOP premeditated malice is the 2010 quote from Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Such words lead some to the conclusion that Republicans will do anything, including short-circuiting the economy, in order to hurt Obama politically. Considering that presidents – and rarely opposition parties – are held electorally responsible for economic calamity, it’s not a bad political strategy.
Then again, it’s a hard accusation to prove: after all, one person’s economic sabotage is another person’s principled anti-government conservatism.
Beyond McConnell’s words, though, there is circumstantial evidence to make the case. Republicans have opposed a lion’s share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they’re the plague.
Traditionally, during economic recessions, Republicans have been supportive of loose monetary policy. Not this time. Rather, Republicans have upbraided Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, for even considering policies that focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.
And then, there is the fact that since the original stimulus bill passed in February of 2009, Republicans have made practically no effort to draft comprehensive job creation legislation. Instead, they continue to pursue austerity policies, which reams of historical data suggest harms economic recovery and does little to create jobs. In fact, since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have proposed hardly a single major jobs bill that didn’t revolve, in some way, around their one-stop solution for all the nation’s economic problems: more tax cuts.
Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn’t matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.
But don’t hold your breath on that happening. Presidents get blamed for a bad economy; and certainly, Republicans are unlikely to take responsibility for the country’s economic woes. The obligation will be on Obama to make the case that it is the Republicans, not he, who is to blame – a difficult, but not impossible task.
A GOP Super PAC for Marriage Equality — Frank Bruni talks to that man behind it.
That character is Paul E. Singer, 67, a billionaire hedge fund manager who is among the most important Republican donors nationwide. In just one Manhattan fund-raiser last month, he helped to collect more than $5 million for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
He steadfastly supports conservative candidates. He also steadfastly supports gay rights in general and marriage equality in particular. Along with a few other leading Wall Street financiers, he contributed and helped drum up the majority of the money — more than $1 million — that fueled the campaign for same-sex marriage in New York.
He has given nearly $10 million of his own money to gay-rights initiatives, including the same-sex marriage efforts not only in New York but also in New Hampshire and New Jersey. And that figure doesn’t include his assistance in tapping a broad network of donors for individual candidates. He was pivotal in rounding up about $250,000 apiece for the Republican state senators in New York whose votes for same-sex marriage provided its margin of victory in the Legislature.
Now, Singer says, he’s providing $1 million to start a new “super PAC” with several Republican compatriots. Named American Unity PAC, its sole mission will be to encourage Republican candidates to support same-sex marriage, in part by helping them to feel financially shielded from any blowback from well-funded groups that oppose it.
In an interview on Tuesday, he told me that he’s confident that in Congressional races, which would most likely be the super PAC’s initial focus, there are more than a few Republicans “who could be on the verge of support” or are “harboring and hiding their views.”
And The Tony Goes To… — John Lahr of The New Yorker handicaps tonight’s Tony Awards.
Call me Swami.
If you’re betting on this year’s Tonys, Broadway’s annual cavalcade of champions, keep it right here on the New Yorker Web site. Besides knowing the course—I won one in 2002—I also fancy I know the field. Last year, my first as a Tony tout, I rang up a ninety-per-cent win rate. So bet against me at your peril.
Although the New York Times annually declares that Broadway is on its deathbed, news of its demise is greatly exaggerated. There’s a lot of life yet in the old tart. The Broadway sweepstakes are even bigger this year. In 2011, Broadway shows grossed nearly $1.1 billion; when you add the road-show grosses, the total 2011 Broadway take was nearly two billion dollars. Eighteen million people saw the shows. Tony Awards boost Broadway attendance and sell the shows on the road. They’re the sugar to swat the fly. If you needed more explanation for the yearly ballyhoo, in the metropolitan areas where a Broadway show plays, the local economy is boosted by three and a half times the gross ticket sales. So when we’re talking Tonys, we’re talking moolah. To pick the winners, follow the money.
The Lahr handicap has been as hotly debated as Greece’s debt crisis and, of course, distorted by the chatterati, so I want to be completely clear about the method for all you theatrical punters who may have lost your shirts in last year’s contest: I favor endurance, range, daring, swiftness, heart, and a look that captures my eye. I also keep in mind the stable from which the contender comes.
Doonesbury — On Loan.