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Republican reaction to Obama’s deficit/debt speech: Partisan, inaccurate, job-killing, political, desperate, unhelpful

Three of the top House Repubs took to the stage 90 minutes after President Obama’s big debt/deficit speech. They were shocked, saddened and disappointed.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Republican Conference (No. 4 on the Repub leadership ladder) said Obama had “given us a history lesson” on how the debt got so big “blaming everyone for the nation’s fiscal woes but himself.” Hensarling said Obama had “set a new standard for class warfare rhetoric.” He said Obama’s plan was not “designed to help America win the future but a plan designed to help the president win reelection.”

Obama’s ideas for restraining the growth of Medicare spending amount to “price controls and rationing on steroids.”

In the single snottiest remark of the event, Hensarling said his reaction after accepting Obama’s invitation to be present for the speech was “I missed lunch for this?”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia (No. 2 on leadership ladder) said that “raising taxes is not what we need right now, right now, two days before tax day, especially when we’re trying to get job creators back into the game.”

If you listen for it, you will notice that Republicans always say that this is not the time to be raising taxes on job creators, but their real position is that there is not now and never will be a time to consider such a move. Or, if I’m wrong about that, I would be quite interested to hear Cantor or any other high-ranking Repub describe the circumstances that would justify consideration of a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. During a boom? During an even bigger recession than the one we just experienced? If the budget was balanced? If the debt reaches $20 trillion? When?

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chair of the House Budget Committee and chief author of the Republican “roadmap” for dealing with the deficit, described himself as “disappoint in the president.” When Obama invited him to attend, he believed he would hear some kind of effort to reach across the aisle and find common ground. Instead  of “fiscal leadership from our Commander-in-chief,” Ryan said, “what we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief.

“What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges.”

“Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy and anxiety is not hope, it’s not change. It’s partisanship. We don’t need partisanship. We don’t need demagoguery. We need solutions.” Obama’s speech will “make it that much harder for the two parties to get together with mutual respect to get things done.”

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the leader and chief enforcer of the movement to rule out tax increases, gave his reaction in a post on a Politico forum. It went:

“Obama is on the ropes.

“His 2012 budget plan was to continue the spending spree that cost his party the House of Representatives and their supermajority in the Senate. He hoped to argue that ‘freezing’ spending levels after his binge spending would be viewed as serious. Now his non-leadership stands next to Paul Ryan’s $6 trillion dollar spending reduction from Obama’s grotesque spending levels. He was planning to run on four more years of spending at 25 percent of GDP — up from the 20 percent of the past 40 years.

“Worse for the Democrats and Petain Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan has shown that serious, permanent, reform-driven spending reduction is possible, politically defensible and will be accompanied by pro-growth tax rate reductions rather than tax increases.

“Tax hikes are what lame politicians do when they don’t have the ability, smarts or grown up determination to govern. Tax hikes are what liberals do instead of cutting spending. In 1982 and 1990, Democrats promised 3- or 2-to-1 spending reductions in return for tax hikes. The tax hikes happened. Spending increased.

“This is Pinocchio once again misled by the Cat and Fox or Lucy playing Charlie Brown again and again. No grown-up Republican would fall for the Andrews Air Force Base trick again. Remember that the Trojan Horse thing worked against Troy. One time. The Greeks were, oddly enough, not able to repeat this ploy against other cities.

“The Competent Republican Caucus sees Obama’s ploy to raise taxes to pay for his overspending coming from a mile away.”

I also happened to catch Michele Bachmann’s reaction on the Glenn Beck program on Fox. She said of Obama that “no one takes him seriously” when he says he will not extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. She said Obama is “committed to class warfare” and “has something [against] businesses.”

Comments (15)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/14/2011 - 01:16 pm.

    Fooled me, Eric.

    I thought the headline: “Repubs reaction to Obama’s deficit/debt speech: Partisan, inaccurate, job-killing, political, desperate, unhelpful” was describing your take on the Republican reaction to Obama’s speech. Instead, the headline highlights what IS their reaction.

    Sigh. If nothing else, the reaction (and “reactionary” is increasingly accurate as a way to describe the Republican party) clearly demonstrates that Republicans in Congress have absolutely no sense of irony. Of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans that, for the past decade, have have killed the most jobs, been the most inaccurate, reflected the most unhelpful desperation, and been – by a wide margin – the most partisan, and most likely to resort to political rhetoric instead of helpful action. The people you’ve quoted (Hensarling, Cantor and Ryan) are nice illustrations of this.

    I marvel at their continued ability – and the ability of their equally partisan colleagues in St. Paul – to make their defense of the upper 5 percent, not to mention their abject submission to corporate interests, rather than the public interest, sound like they’re being patriotic and level-headed. That cliché about denial not just being a river in Egypt really comes into focus when reading their response to Obama’s speech. When Mr. Ryan says “What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges,” it doesn’t seem to occur to him or his admirers that he’s just described his own budget plan: partisan, inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate.

    Grover Norquist, of course, should be dismissed out of hand, just as Michele Bachmann should be dismissed out of hand. Neither is firmly connected to fiscal reality. That they still have numerous supporters is a sad commentary on those supporters. Much the same could be said of former Governor Pawlenty.

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 04/14/2011 - 01:40 pm.

    “I missed lunch for this?” -Jeb Hensarling

    Jeb Hensarling and his ilk make me want to blow lunch.

    When Obama invited [Paul Ryan] to attend, he believed he would hear some kind of effort to reach across the aisle and find common ground.

    Meaning, of course, ALL THE WAY across the aisle.

    “Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy and anxiety is not hope, it’s not change. It’s partisanship.” rep Paul Ryan

    Presumably,then he disapproves of what his homie Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin.

    Give our President credit. He drew a number of lines in the sand, and he didn’t hide in front of a slavishly adoring audience to do it, like Republicans do.

  3. Submitted by Bill Roehl on 04/14/2011 - 01:54 pm.

    As a fiscal conservative I realize that we are well beyond the point of spending cuts saving the nation from the result of poor financial planning over the last ~15 years.

    While I do not agree with tax increases, it’s time for us to pay the piper and pony up the dough we’ve been permitted to hang on to by an administration dead-set on a “Not Tax and Spend” mentality.

    All of our legislators need to wake up and cut absolutely everything. That means being unpopular for this next election cycle and hopefully the one after that as well while we reduce government spending by leaps and bounds as well as return taxation levels to where they need to be to pull us out of the economic situation we are currently in.

    It’s going to hurt, a lot, but it’s something we need to do and do it soon. I am tired of hearing from both sides on this issue. At this point we should be way beyond bickering over pointless nonsense and what amounts to mere pennies on the dollar and should instead be looking to solve the problems we have and fast.

  4. Submitted by Lynda Friedman on 04/14/2011 - 02:19 pm.

    No need for further comments. Mr. Schoch has said it all beautifully. Thanks!

  5. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 04/14/2011 - 02:52 pm.

    When members of the middle class feel that the wealthiest 2% should have a modest tax increase, the Republicans say we’re engaging in class warfare. Still, as so well evidenced by Gov. Walker and his cohorts in Wisconsin, pitting middle class citizens against each other is entirely justified.

  6. Submitted by Douglas Shambo II on 04/14/2011 - 03:10 pm.

    Boy! If the Slavish to Corporate and Wealthy Interests think so little of the president’s plan, it MUST be a good one!

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2011 - 03:39 pm.

    Eric–
    You might have added ‘predictable’ to your headline.

  8. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 04/14/2011 - 04:26 pm.

    While far from perfect, and still way too far to the right, the reason for all the criticism of Obama’s speech is that Republicans don’t understand economics, and never will.

    So despite their wailing about class warfare, they don’t know what that means. If they did, they’d realize that their own “budget plans” don’t accomplish their stated goals.

    Republicans don’t fare well when presented with reality. That’s why they live in a parallel universe, where everything is wonderful and everyone is happy. Now that I think about it, it sounds a lot like Disneyland.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/14/2011 - 07:59 pm.

    //All of our legislators need to wake up and cut absolutely everything.

    Bill, we’ve been cutting for almost two decades. Clinton created a surplus by raising taxes and cutting spending. Bush followed up by raising spending on military budgets and wars. He cut social, healthcare, state grants, anything that had to do with people and welfare. At the same time he increased spending by sending more money back to the wealthy in the form of tax refunds, and cut revenue. We have had $14 Trillion dollar economy in the middle of the recession! We can afford to pay for out government, we just have to collect the money.

    This idea that cuts and Tax hikes are a “middle” ground distorts reality. In fact we’ve already made the cuts, what we haven’t done is raise the revenue- taxes.

    In the middle of the Great Depression we raised the income tax rate on the top 10% from 25% to 69%. By 1944 it was all the way up to 94%. Now that 94% was needed to pay off the war debt, we don’t need that kind of tax hike now, but we could easily restore the tax rate to 50%, and we’re arguing about raising it to 39%? And no the wealthy will not take their money and business out of the country. If a +300% tax hike didn’t drive the wealthy out of the country in 1944 a 6%-8% increase won’t drive them out today.

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/14/2011 - 08:29 pm.

    “If you listen for it, you will notice that Republicans always say that this is not the time to be raising taxes on job creators, but their real position is that there is not now and never will be a time to consider such a move. Or, if I’m wrong about that, I would be quite interested to hear Cantor or any other high-ranking Repub describe the circumstances that would justify consideration of a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. During a boom? During an even bigger recession than the one we just experienced? If the budget was balanced? If the debt reaches $20 trillion? When?”

    Good questions for the Republicans. They probably should provide some answers though even though they certainly don’t have to worry about a balanced budget for over a decade. A boom is also out of the question for the rest of this decade. A bigger recession conceivably could happen as long as the President is re-elected which would then ensure the $20 trillion national debt, which is the most likely event to occur.

  11. Submitted by William Pappas on 04/14/2011 - 08:55 pm.

    When Clinton pushed through a blanaced budget through modest tax increases and spending cuts in his second term, Newt Gingerich called it a massive jobs killer and would send the country into a devistating recession within a year. What did happen was an actual surplus and unimaginable economic growth. When Bush created his tax cuts for the rich he told us it would create revenue and huge economic gain for all. What did happen is record corporate profits but falling income for the middle class and unimaginable, record, budget deficits and eventually the Great Republican Recession. Does any one pay attention to recent history.

  12. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/15/2011 - 11:19 am.

    All of the above comments make it clear that our “conservative” friends (today’s version) base their perspectives; what they see and what they CANNOT see in the world around them, and their decision making on their psychological dysfunctions,…

    Specifically they are missing the pieces of their personalities that would allow them to experience and express compassion and empathy as well as the piece that would allow them to trust or admire others who are worthy of such things (except, in their case, those who agree with them completely, with even the slightest disagreement leading to the abrupt and total end of ALL trust).

    Their decisions are based not on facts, not on what actually works and what doesn’t work, but on their “values,” on what they “believe” to be “true.” If you pay attention, it’s easy to see how they unconsciously shape their sense of reality to reinforce what they “believe” to be “true,” ignoring to the point of not being able to see, let alone comprehend, anything which might tend to counter their “truth,” and ONLY noticing things that support, or can be twisted to support what they already believe.

    Trying to point out other information to them does not bring reasoned and reasonable responses but only denial, anger and rage (all of which they accuse those who are trying to present them with that accurate information of expressing, no matter how soft-spoken or gentle those folks might be.)

    It’s not that our “conservative” friends don’t WANT to care for those in need, but that those people are simply outside their frame of reference. For our “conservative” friends, such people do not exist.

    For our “conservative” friends, MONEY has become a stand-in for trustworthiness. As Tevia said in “If I Were a Rich Man,” “When you’re rich they think you really know.”

    Our “conservative” friends only trust the opinions and perspectives of those with money, no matter what level of immoral or unethical behavior those folks might be guilty of.

    As long as one of “the rich” doesn’t violate one of their red flag bugaboos (isn’t gay, doesn’t support abortion, isn’t non-Christian, etc.), the ONLY way they can fall from grace is to no longer be rich.

    Of course, if one of the wealthy people they so admire should lose or give away their money and fall down into the middle class, they become completely irrelevant.

    You’re only “good” in the eyes of our “Conservative” friends if you’re fabulously rich and you keep it all for yourself (or spend it on those who make it worth your while, in whatever ways you prefer, to have done so).

  13. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/15/2011 - 05:09 pm.

    Conservative Republicans (or is that a tautology these days) no longer use the terms ‘trickle down’ and ‘supply side’, but that’s still their economic assumption.
    That is, if you cut taxes/increase business subsidies then businesses will increase production and thus people will consume more, putting more money into the economy and stimulating it.
    As others have pointed out above, history shows that in fact a demand side oriented economics is a better picture of reality.
    If you put more money into consumers’ pockets they will spend more, and THEN businesses will
    increase the supply of goods and services, rather than investing their money non-productively.
    And the quickest way to do this is to increase public hiring. These workers will then spend, thus resulting an increase in demand that will in turn stimulate private sector hiring.
    The main flaw is this analysis is that it is currently possible for producers to meet increased demand by automating, outsourcing, or increasing existing workers hours (thus avoiding additional benefit costs of hiring new workers).
    Therefore, it is increasingly becoming difficult to increase private sector employment, even though that would increase demand and in the long term benefit businesses. Unfortunately, the short term rules.

  14. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/15/2011 - 05:35 pm.

    Score #11! Clinton pushed modest tax increases and spending cuts with a successful result (comvieniently during the tech surge) although I can’t say that I remember the tax increases. Bush cut taxes, but failed to cut spending with a horrible result. The tax cuts cost the country revenue, but didn’t hurt the country not nearly as much as the spending increases have. Neither President successfully challenged the Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid problems which continue to get worse despite the knowledge that they are an increasing problem.

  15. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/16/2011 - 09:33 am.

    Mr.Anderson (#14): “The tax cuts cost the country revenue, but didn’t hurt the country not(sic) nearly so much as the spending increases have.”

    Actually, Bush’s cuts accounted for half of the deficit each year and the “emergency” funding for two wars the other half. Hence today’s deficit.

    Entitlement programs are NOT the problem. The problem is that our government has deliberately used tax policy to transfer our national wealth to the already wealthy — who do NOT use their extra money to create jobs. The country is not broke.

    Social Security is funded by the people who paid into the fund for 40 or 50 years in order to earn its modest protection from poverty in their old age. Bush used much of that fund unwisely, and the government must replenish the fund no matter what.

    Contrary to the right-wing scare talk emanating from Congressional Republicans, Social Security is not broke either Modest increases in payroll withholding, as was done in 1973 to prepare for the boomer generation, will avert the partial shortfall that will otherwise occur in 15-20 years.

    Medicare Part D costs $86 billion per year in taxpayer costs and excessive insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles and donut hole purchases for seniors (Dean Baker). Killing this PRIVATIZED part of Medicare and making drugs just another Medicare benefit would save us all big money.

    The new health care law will reduce the payments PRIVATE fee for service insurance plans get for such as gym memberships. Regular Medicare patients pay the same monthly premium, but do not get the extra benefits provided to these private plans. More billions saved.

    The increase in Medicaid would seem to come largely from the increase in both billionaires and people falling into poverty – year by Bush year — until the recent financial collapse. We cannot shirk our collective responsibility to those who have become poor.

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