Monday, November 26, 2012

Contrary to what the media might tell you, Lindsey Graham is anything but courageous

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Serious, patriotic bullshit.
Gasp! A Republican says he'll break The Pledge? Stop the fucking presses!

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said he is ready to violate conservative activist Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge to reach a deal to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff."

"I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country," Graham said on ABC's "This Week." "When you're $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece."

But Graham cautioned that he he would violate the pledge "only if Democrats will do entitlement reforms" and ruled out increasing tax rates. 

"I am willing to generate revenue," he said. "I will not raise tax rates to do it; I will cap deductions." 

First, the U.S. isn't about to become Greece. Not now, not soon, and probably not ever.

Second, this isn't the first time Graham has issued this ridiculous warning. "What is calamitous is the path we're on as a nation," he said in July 2011. "We're becoming Greece." This is just more of the same.

Third, this also isn't the first time Graham has agreed to revenue increases. Calling on Romney to lead the way, he said the same thing back in August.

Fourth, Graham's self-serving "for the good of the country" rhetoric is complete bullshit.

He's just trying to build his credibility with the Beltway media while making it seem as if Republicans are ready to compromise, if only Obama and the Democrats would stop trying to destroy the country. But of course the president has already agreed to give much more than he takes for the sake of a deal. As Digby writes:

This has been the set-up for months. And the President has already basically agreed to it by emphasizing his "balanced approach" and saying that he's willing to betray his own "special interests" (which translates to old and sick people) in order to get a deal as long as the rich "pay a little bit more." His promise of 2-1 spending to revenue locks in the idea that the wealthy will be contributing chump change while average people will feel that pain. It's only a matter of the details at this point. 

Note all the asterisks next to Graham's pledge to break the pledge:

-- "[O]nly if Democrats will do entitlement reforms." Well, Obama has already put significant (and, I would note, excessive) reform on the table. The obstacle to getting a deal done hasn't been Democrats refusing to agree to entitlement reform it's been Republicans refusing to agree to revenue increases.

-- "I will not raise tax rates to do it; I will cap deductions." Yes, yes, Graham has said, and says again, that he's fine with revenue increases, but he draws the line at tax increases (including letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire, which most Americans support and which was a key issue for Obama in the recent election -- a winning issue).

All of which is to say, Graham, like most "moderate" Republicans who have such influence among the Beltway media types and who claim to stand for the sort of bipartisan centriam with which the David Broder offspring are so enamored, will agree to a deal that requires almost all of the compromise to come from the Democratic side: We'll cap deductions is they do entitlement reform. I'm sorry, but that's not a fair deal. Not even close.

You know what's going on here? Republicans lost the election and know that the country is against them. They also know that they'll have significantly less leverage once the Bush tax cuts expire in January, because then Obama can bargain from a position of greater strength (e.g., by pushing for a reduction of middle-class tax rates while continuing to make the case that the rich need to make more of a sacrifice -- in other words, by taking the extremely popular positions he took during the election campaign). Indeed, they know that Obama has the leverage right now and that his position will only strengthen come January. So they're desperate to get a deal done before January (hence Boehner's undesirable plan).

And the only way they can do that is by scaring the shit out people with their "fiscal cliff" nonsense (there may very well be another recession if tax rates go up and spending goes down, but isn't really any cliff, it would be a slower process, and it wouldn't happen all at once in January, as it takes time for fiscal consequences to be felt in the economy), and that means winning over the media with their fearmongering narrative.

So here's Lindsey Graham saying he's all for compromise because he understands the seriousness of the problem -- and isn't he such a courageous fellow and aren't the Republicans such good, patriotic people for agreeing to put aside their principles for the good of the country?

The media will lap it up, but it's still just the Republicans trying to get their way, on their terms, after an election they lost badly.

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