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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GOP's Economic Sabotage Backfiring

I want you to try -- really try -- to see the following statement as rational or logical; "A payroll tax cut extension is too important for stimulating the economy to be allowed to expire after just two months. Therefore, we need to pass a year-long extension or nothing."

OK, if you got that to make any damned sense, let me know how you did it. Because I can't get it to work at all. If an extension of the payroll tax cut is so important that it absolutely must last for a year, in what insane universe does it make sense that no extension at all is preferable to a mere two months? Further, what's preventing you from coming back in two months and demanding an extension for the remaining ten? I take this argument and I turn it over and bend it and twist it and smack it with a hammer and I just can't get it to fit within any system of logic or rationality that I know of.

As a result, I'm forced to conclude that it's stupid. Those are the rules, I don't make them up. An argument that makes no damned sense at all is just a stupid argument.

And this stupid argument is the basis for the latest roadblock thrown up by House Republicans; It's a super-important, must-pass tax cut that they love so damned much that they're willing to kill it unless it's born perfect.


If you buy that, you're a fool. And it may be that a lot of people aren't fools.

Last month, a poll made some minor press ripples. The survey was of Florida voters and was the first -- and, as far as I know, the last -- to include a very important question; "Do you think the Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not reelected?"

49% said yes and 39% said no. And the only thing dragging the yeses below the 50% mark were Republican voters throwing the curve. Only 24% of GOP voters believed this -- which is still a lot -- compared to 70% of Democrats and 52% of indies. So the non-Republican consensus in Florida was that, yes, the GOP is deliberately throwing the game.

"To be sure, this wasn’t a national poll; it only asked voters in one state," wrote Steven Benen at the time. "But it's a large, diverse swing state that both parties take very seriously."

In that light, the GOP's payroll tax cut extension argument begins to make a little more sense. Not the argument itself, which is still logical hamburger, but the existence of the argument; it's a poorly thought-out, last minute rationalization to explain a move designed to harm the economy. The problem is that, as a poorly thought-out, last minute rationalization, not a lot of people are buying it.

Washington Post (emphasis mine):

Obama’s job-approval rating [in Washington Post-ABC News polling] is now at its highest since March, excluding a temporary bump after the killing of Osama bin Laden: Forty-nine percent approve, and 47 percent disapprove.

Perhaps more important to the battle over the payroll tax cut, Obama has regained an advantage over Republicans in Congress when it comes to “protecting the middle class.” In the new poll, 50 percent say they trust Obama on this issue, compared with 35 percent who choose the GOP -- a major change from last month, when the two sides were more evenly matched on the question.

On taxes, Obama has improved since early October, while public trust of the GOP has slipped. Forty-six percent now side with Obama on the issue, and 41 percent with Republicans in Congress. Independents now side with the president on that front by a 17-point margin, 49 to 32 percent.

In short, the GOP's economic sabotage is beginning to backfire. And in a big way. The GOP has gone from evenly matched to a fifteen-percent deficit in public trust to protect the middle class -- in a month. The phrase you're looking for here is "precipitous decline." A poorly thought-out, last minute rationalization isn't going to cut it. At this point, their economic sabotage is as transparent as glass.

It's time for the GOP to abandon economic sabotage. It's not working as a political strategy, which makes it pointless. It really shouldn't need saying, but the people who love to wrap themselves in the flag don't get to go out of their way to actually harm America -- especially when there's no advantage in it to anyone.


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