Monday, February 25, 2013

Major media have sequestration all wrong

By Frank Moraes

I'm going to explain the Sequester to you and why most of the media have it all wrong. Back in 2011 when it was invented, the idea was to make something so horrible that neither side would accept it. Instead they would replace it with some bipartisan plan that the two sides disliked less and everyone would sing "Kumbaya." But even when pushed to come up with an "unthinkable" plan, the Republicans wouldn't go for any revenue increases. So instead, half the Sequester became military cuts.

Skip ahead a year and a half. Now everyone is standing around asking, "Will the Republicans really be willing to cut their beloved military?" My reaction to these people is: where in the hell have you been for the last 30 years?! We could be talking about the complete elimination of the military. Hell, we could be talking about the very destruction of the United States and Republicans would be against taxing rich people even a dollar more -- so long as those rich people would be able to keep their wealth after America was destroyed. The one overriding policy issue for Republicans is to keep the taxes of rich people down. (Note: when it came to the payroll take that is highly regressive, they had no problem letting it go back up.) The fact that major figures in the media think that isn't the case is a big part of the problem with politics in America.

Ezra Klein was surprised last week that Republicans didn't seem to understand what their own economists tell them: deductions are in fact government spending, just done in an unusual way. Think of the mortgage interest deduction. This allows homeowners to pay less in taxes. It would have exactly the same effect if instead the government had a program that gave homeowners money for owning a home. So what's the big deal with eliminating tax loopholes? They too are just government spending in another form. Ezra Klein thinks the Republicans just don't understand this.


It is possible that he's right in part. Never underestimate just how stupid and ignorant Republicans are. But whether they know this or not is not the real issue. Republicans care above all else that rich people keep as much money as possible. Dean Baker calls this MPRP: Money in the Pockets of Rich People. This is what Republicans care about. Their problem with government spending is just that much of it goes to poor people.

So we are left with a media who keep pretending that the Republican Party is something other than it is. They can't just bring themselves to believe that the Republicans really are what they always claim Democrats to be: class warriors. After all, you can kind of understand how someone would be a warrior for the poorer classes. But to be a warrior not just for the rich but the super rich? There must be some other explanation. But there really isn't one. 

Update

Ezra Klein wrote another article about the Sequester, "On the Sequester, the American People 'Moved the Goalposts'." He concludes the article with a paragraph that is either stupid or hopelessly naive:

Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it's worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren't set in backroom deals between politicians. They're set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.

I don't mean to be cynical, but who actually believes this kind of nonsense? Politicians in Washington do not do what the people want. They just assume that they can message their way to agreement with the electorate. Or that the electorate doesn't even know what it wants or will forget it by the time of the next election. The American people were pretty clear this last election. And the fact that the American people are getting pretty much nothing they want is a good example of just how American politics really works.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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