Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

15 October 2013

Not Even a Fig Leaf


[Events are moving so fast that I’m taking the rare step of publishing a new post while the most recent ones are still current. For those recent posts, about what the Tea Party and its goals really are, click here].

As our pols search for a way out this GOP-made artificial crisis, they talk of accommodating Boehner and his Tea Nuts. Give ‘em a fig leaf, some say, so we can get on with the nation’s business.

But we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t even think about it. We shouldn’t even think about it quite apart from the endless series of continuing resolutions and new phony crises that beckon if we do. Why? Let me count the ways.

1. They have no plan. If you thought there was a coherent plan, the news today should have dispelled that misconception. After vacillating among debt reduction, approving the Sequester, trying to fix the Sequester, not trying to fix the Sequester, killing “Obamacare,” delaying “Obamacare,” and going back to debt reduction, the nuts are after “Obamacare” again.

As I explained in my last post, they apparently don’t fear a government default because they expect it to cause another Sequester on steroids, but not a default in Treasury obligations. If they have any plan at all, it appears to be causing as much confusion, pain, havoc and makework in government as possible, and then shutting it down, for as long as possible.

2. They are after power alone. There is not the slightest hint of consistency or realism in the apparent goals of the Tea Partiers or their champion Boehner. They are just trying, extemporaneously, to exploit whatever momentary blip in the polls their political operatives see.

They are entirely PR driven. Their sole consistent goal is securing transient power for their party and its backers.

And who are those backers? Certainly not us, the people, or even the Tea Party’s own deluded partisans in the outback. Their backers are billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate in Macao, and the moron-pundits on Fox.

3. They are the minority. We should never forget that the Tea Party is a tiny minority, mostly from the South. Its banner is the Confederate flag. It is fighting a non-violent war that has been with us since our Republic was founded. It wants a United States governed by medieval ideology that the whole world has abandoned. It fights for the right of bosses to control us, including the ones who support the PACs that support it.

In the House, the 32 self-confessed Tea Party members constitute a 7.3% minority of the 435 members. By extortion and procedural machinations, and with John Boehner’s blessing, this tiny minority presumes to rule us—all 307 million of us.

If we let them, even in small things, we will have lost whatever pretense to majority rule our malapportioned Senate, routine filibusters, Senate “holds,” and the so-called “Hastert Rule” have left us. We will have allowed the subversion of majority rule in America to become complete.

4. “Obamacare” will work. Every innovation takes time to shake itself out. Think Boeing’s “Dreamliner” is a failure? Think again. It’s now flying again, and it’s 20% more efficient its competition on a per-passenger basis. In a year’s time it will dominate the market for long-haul air traffic, possibly sharing especially dense routes with the Airbus A-380. That’s why I intend to invest in Boeing again as soon as I can assure myself that Boehner and his Tea Nuts will not destroy the global economy in the near future.

“Obamacare” is like the Dreamliner. It’s brand new in concept, and it’s extremely complex. It will take time to work out its bugs. But there’s plenty of time to do so before President Obama leaves office. And before even thinking of repealing it, just ask your doctor how having 15% of Americans with no medical care would affect a pandemic. (Hint: it would let it spread much faster and kill many more.)

5. Even a tiny fig leaf would be a big PR victory. The Tea Party and its Republican fellow travelers have no plan and no understanding of economics. In fact, their “platform”—if such exists—is contrary to the economic interests of most of its rank-and-file members.

The Tea Party was born of PR and exists for PR alone. Even its name is a misleading bit of PR. It is a Southern rump movement having nothing to do with the original Boston Tea Party or the Founding of our nation.

It lives on PR like a lizard eating its tail. We should not give it more food so it can fight to subvert our democracy for one more day. We should starve it.

6. We must draw a line. In our best days as a nation, we did not compromise with evil. We made Robert E. Lee, the Nazis, and Tojo surrender unconditionally. We should do the same now.

We made a big mistake in dealing with our rogue bankers. We made them pay money for their wrongs, which they have plenty of. But we didn’t make them confess to wrong, or even pay very much. So, except for the Fed’s more stringent capital requirements, our financial system is about as precarious and susceptible to skullduggery today as it was in 2007-2008.

Our new SEC chief, Mary Jo White, has a better idea. When she sues and wins, or even when she settles, the culprits will have to admit wrongdoing, as well as pay up.

Mary Jo White is right. We cannot leave our children and our posterity thinking that wrong is right and that accommodating wrong is the right thing to do.

We cannot accept a 7.3% minority of one House trying to rule this country. We cannot accept a clueless authoritarian boss trying to let them rule just to preserve his personal power and his failing party in its current extremist form. We cannot let the South and its medieval ideology rise again.

There are times to accommodate and compromise and times to stand firm. If there ever was one, this is a time to stand firm. We must crush the Tea Party, the sooner the better. We cannot give it bragging rights or feed its insatiable maw with more lies.

We, not it or John Boehner, are the overwhelming majority in this country, in productivity and innovation, as well as numbers. We must re-assert majority rule—decisively—lest we lose it forever. Nothing less than the survival of democracy within our borders is at stake.



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