Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

David Brooks, rightly taken to task

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When I read Brooks’s column yesterday in the NY Times, I thought the opening had a special irony:

During his first term, President Obama faced a wicked problem: How do you govern in a highly polarized, evenly divided country with House Republicans who seem unwilling to compromise? Obama never really solved that one, and he was forced to pass his agenda on partisan lines (during the first two years) or not pass it at all (the final two).

Now re-elected with Republicans still in control of the House, Obama faces the problem again. You might say the success of his second term rests upon him solving it.

Some on the left are suggesting that he adopt a strategy of confrontation and conquest. The president should use the advantages of victory to crush the spirit of the Republican House majority, they say. Reject the Grand Bargain approach. Instead, take the country over the so-called fiscal cliff. Blame it on the Republicans who are unwilling to even raise taxes on the rich. Wait until they fold, and then you will have your way.

The first thing to say about this strategy is that it is irresponsible. . .

There are few columnists so irresponsible as David Brooks, and note that he places the mantle of “irresponsibility” fully on the shoulders of President Obama, totally ignoring the absolutely massive irresponsibility we’ve seen from the GOP since Obama was elected.

And Brooks doesn’t even get that right. Dean Baker writes:

It’s so cute to see all the serious people who are so worried about economic crises that do not exist. They are constantly telling us how the “job creators” (a.k.a. rich people) who run businesses are just so nervous and uncertain they don’t know what to do. The current concern is that taxes could rise at the end of the year and government spending will fall.

Of course this would be bad news, but would it be a crisis? As many people have pointed out, this is called “deficit reduction,” which is exactly what most of the people now complaining about an imminent crisis have been advocating. The tax increases and spending cuts would weaken the economy and, if left in place over the course of the year, would sharply slow growth and likely push the economy into a recession.

But none of this happens in January. In fact, almost nothing happens in January except the Bush tax cuts expire, substantially improving President Obama’s bargaining position. This is bad news for Republicans, but so what?

Hence we have David Brooks telling us this morning:

“The first thing to say about this strategy [letting the tax cuts expire] is that it is irresponsible. The recovery is fragile. Europe may crater. China is ill. Business is pulling back at the mere anticipation of a fiscal cliff. It’s reckless to think you can manufacture an economic crisis for political leverage and then control the cascading results.”

Is there any evidence for this assertion whatsoever? “Europe may crater.” What on earth does Brooks mean by this? People will not want to hold euros because the U.S. economy might be slowing slightly (we’re talking January, not the whole year)?

Look, this is utter nonsense. Brooks is pushing hard to protect the bargaining position of his Republican friends. He is obviously willing to say anything to advance the cause including inventing crises that do not exist.

It makes for entertaining reading. After all, here is a guy who was completely oblivious to the largest economic crisis in 80 years until it sank the economy who is now seeing crises in every closet. It is about as serious as those predictions of Romney landslide that we heard last week.

Addendum:

I almost forgot to ridicule Brooks for one of the main points in his piece. He tells readers: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2012 at 11:32 am

Posted in GOP, NY Times

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