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The Republican presidential field is remarkable for one reason.  They’re doing the best they can to distinguish themselves in how unremarkable they are.  I’ve talked about some of this before, but with the events of the past few days in this race, I need to talk about it again.

EJ Dionne wrote about this in his column today.  (And that’s before Herman Cain’s truly impressive gaffe on Libya today.  If you watch the video of that one, you’re left wondering if he knows anything at all.)

Dionne made some points today about the lack of depth in the field.  That it wasn’t Perry’s brain cramp (which can happen to anyone and is a little bit forgivable), but what’s really bad is his lack of depth.

What really matters is the subject that sent Perry’s brain into lockdown. He was in the middle of describing sweeping changes in the federal bureaucracy closely connected to his spare vision of American government. One presumes a candidate for president ponders such proposals carefully, discusses them with advisers and understands their implications.

Forgetting an idea at the heart of your program, in other words, is not the same as forgetting a phone number, a friend’s name, a football score or the title of a recently read book.

Perry’s memory lapse showed that he wasn’t asserting anything that he is truly serious about because he is not serious about what government does, or ought not to do. For him, governing seems a casual undertaking.

“And I will tell you,” he declared, “it’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”

Yes, let’s see what “gone” might imply. Would Perry end all federal aid to education? Would he do away with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the part of the Commerce Department that, among other things, tracks hurricanes? Energy was the department he forgot. Would he scrap the department’s 17 national labs, including such world-class facilities as Los Alamos, N.M., Oak Ridge, Tenn., or — there’s that primary coming up — Aiken, S.C.?

I’m not accusing Perry of wanting to do any of these things because I don’t believe he has given them a moment of thought. And that’s the problem for conservatives. Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government. Perry, correctly, thought he had a winning sound bite, had he managed to blurt it out, because if you just say you want to scrap government departments (and three is a nice, round number), many conservatives will cheer without asking questions.

“He hasn’t given them a moment of thought.”  Doesn’t that just nail the problem with the GOP today?

It is a brainless field.  They brainlessly spout off talking points (to huge cheers, mind) about the evils of government, about how taxes and spending and regulation must be cut, about foreign policy (see Herman Cain’s moment from today), or torture (both Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain say that they would waterboard people again).  They all attack science and intellectual work as evil liberal plots.  And conservative voters — even those who should know better — lap it up.

It’s a frightening prospect.  Someone from this field — my guess is that it will be Romney — will be the nominee, and someone else from this field will be the running mate.  That person has a pretty decent chance at beating President Obama next November.  Others in this field may be in line for Cabinet positions.  These are the people who would run the country.  And they haven’t thought anything they say they want to do through.  It’s simply about being the president, not actually governing if they win.  How can that not be scary?

I’ll leave off with Dionne’s last paragraph:

There are honorable exceptions: Bill Bennett, for one, and to some degree — hard to admit, I know — Karl Rove. But that so many other members of a movement theoretically devoted to traditional values on sexual matters would eagerly jump into this mess on Cain’s side speaks volumes about its condition. To paraphrase Bennett from another context, where’s the outrage about a conservatism that is losing both its intellectual moorings and its moral compass?

What is it with the Republicans these days?  I’m talking, specifically, about the Republican presidential field.  It’s absolutely nuts.  You know it’s really nuts when Pat Robertson, of all people, is saying that it’s bad.  (I mean, can you believe this?  This is the guy who blames floods and other natural disasters on gay people.  You can’t make this stuff up.)

The one guy who could actually be elected from that group has to tack so far to the right to get past the wing nuts that have taken over the party that he’s making campaign ad after campaign ad for Obama in the general election.  The other guy who’s actually reasonable can’t gain any traction because he’s reasonable.  The nominal frontrunner (depending on which poll you’re reading) is a mediocre pizza chain executive who’s never held office.

I feel like I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone and am waiting for Rod Serling to step out of the shadows and tell me it’s all okay.  But of course he never does because this is reality.  Surreal and real at the same time.  Go figure.  Such is the state of the Republican Party as it tries to find anyone other than Romney for the nomination next year.

Let’s briefly examine the field:

  • Mitt Romney – this is the one guy who could beat Obama next year.  But the wing nuts are driving him so far to the right that he’s looking more and more like a wing nut too.  He just hangs in and hopes to be still standing when the latest flavor of the week flames out.  And not be so far to the right that he can’t come back for the general election.  You just know Obama can’t wait to run some of the things Romney has said in this primary as campaign ads in the general election next year.
  • Jon Hunstman – he could probably beat Obama next year, too, but he can’t get any traction because he worked in a Democratic administration (as ambassador toChina), and has no money, probably also because he worked in a Democratic administration.
  • Herman Cain – the mediocre pizza chain executive.  All he can talk about is 9-9-9, even though it’s been repeatedly shown to belong in the pile of ordure it came from.  He’s polling so well precisely because the Republican Party can’t stand Romney.
  • Rick Perry – this is the guy who touts his C average in college.  He’s trying to make himself look more attractive by making himself look stupid.  He’s also the guy with the racist name on his ranch.  And the one who tried to bring back the “birther” controversy in Parade magazine, of all places.  (Does anyone else mistake that magazine for coupons, as Jon Stewart notes?  I always toss it, unread.)  He’s also the candidate who said that appearing in debates was a mistake.  Pardon me for thinking it’s somewhat important to see how candidates think on their feet.  A debate is a friendly venue compared to sparring with some world leaders.
  • Newt Gingrich – Mr. Family Values himself.  This is the former speaker of the House, who resigned from Congress in disgrace, attempting a comeback like Richard Nixon’s.  He’s also the stand-up guy who informed his wife of divorce proceedings while she was in the hospital.  (Gingrich disputes this, of course.)  I always admired his intellect – he always seemed to be the smartest of this motley bunch – but he seems to think that the way ahead is to deny established science.
  • Michele Bachmann – Ms. Wing Nut herself.  I can’t believe I was saying that we needed to take her seriously.  Well, those words certainly weren’t true.  I guess the old adage about giving them enough rope is true.

Let’s be real here.  The economy is horrid and has remained so for a long time.  People are rightly upset about that.  Obama gets the blame for that because he’s the president, and the president gets the blame for everything.  Kind of like an oldest child.  And because of that, President Obama is in a tough fight for reelection.  He’s beatable.  But the Republicans are handing the election to him.  I’m an Obama supporter, so I don’t like saying or reading that he’s vulnerable.  But he is.  The election in 2012 is going to be hugely important.  We have real problems in this country.  I see Obama trying to address them, Republicans trying to stop him, and then blaming him for not doing anything.  And the presidential candidates are doing the same thing.

I think the Republican Party needs to grow up.  They claim to be the adults in the room, but what I see is a group of people who childishly deny something despite the facts.  (Just watch The Daily Show for myriad examples.  Jon Stewart and his staff are masterful at putting that together.)  What happened to the intellectuals of the GOP?  Did they all check out when Bill Buckley shuffled off the mortal coil?

The Republican Party has taken a real slide in intellectualism lately.  They’re all smart enough, but seem to want to be stupid.  Constantly.  It makes one truly despair for the future.

I’m going to do the unthinkable – defend a Republican.  But what’s happening is wrong and needs to be called out.

This post isn’t about Mitt Romney’s (or Jon Huntsman’s, although he’s been so quiet I’d forgotten he was running) qualifications to be president.  I think that Romney is the least scary (and this isn’t saying much; the Republican field looks pretty much like a gaggle of wing nuts to me) Republican candidate for president.  This post also isn’t about Mormons or the Mormon church, although I don’t have much love for them, either, considering how they went to work to pass Proposition 8 in California.

This post is about the shameful castigation of Mormonism by some people.

We went through this in 1960.  Perhaps Romney and Huntsman need to borrow from John Kennedy’s speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association about his Catholicism:

I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.

But I hate to even suggest that they do that.  We have freedom of religion in this country.  We do not have a religious test in this country to determine who can and can’t hold office.  It’s just a knee-jerk conservative reaction to anything different from themselves.

Maybe Mormonism is a cult.  Maybe it isn’t.  But that doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if a Protestant or a Jew or a Muslim or a Catholic or a Mormon or a Moonie runs for president.  Each candidate should be evaluated based on his or her qualifications for the job.  That doesn’t include religion.

I don’t think any of the Republican candidates are qualified to be president.  But that’s because I think they’re all nuts who want to do away with the Federal Reserve, disband the EPA, and think that any government at all is a horrible wrong (you can see some of the proposals from last night’s Republican debate here).  That has nothing to do with any of the candidates’ religions.

This post could be about DADT ending today.  It’s about time for that, too.  But that, while pretty amazing in itself, is not quite as amazing as President Obama growing a spine and forcing the Republicans to do what he wants.  I hope that continues.

It’s about time President Obama stood up for what he believes in.  It was far, far past time for him to find his backbone and stop trying to compromise with people who have absolutely no interest in working with him.

Obama went to Washington trying to stop business as usual, end the partisanship, and actually do some good in Washington.  This is what he campaigned on, anyway.  Yes, some of the choices were mistimed.  The health care bill should have waited while the economy really recovered.  But it takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and the Republicans don’t want to work with Obama.

Today, though, Obama gave a speech in the Rose Garden.  He called the Republicans out, promising a veto if the bill that comes out of the super committee doesn’t contain new revenues.  He finally(!) stood up for something he believes in.

President Obama struck a combative tone on Monday as called for $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue as part of a proposal to tame the nation’s rocketing federal debt, drawing a sharp contrast with the Republican vision and resetting the terms of the economic debate in Washington this fall.

In a defiant Rose Garden appearance, Obama threatened to veto any plan to tame the debt that does not pair cuts to Medicare and Medicaid with increases in taxes on the rich.

“We can’t just cut our way out of this hole,” Obama said. “It’s going to take a balanced approach.”

Combined with his call this month for $450 billion in new stimulus, the proposal represents a more populist approach to confronting the nation’s economic travails than the compromises he advocated earlier this summer.

It is also diametrically opposed to many of the views supported by Republicans, who want to balance the nation’s books mainly through cutting spending, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid.

Republicans argue that Obama’s plan to tax the rich is a divisive political strategy. But Obama rejected that view Monday.

“This is not class warfare,” Obama said. “It’s math.”

In doing so, he finally took steps to bring back his base.  More importantly, Obama also took steps to bring back independents, which he will need for reelection next year.

[S]hows that the American public overwhelmingly supports higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a package to cut the deficit. The margins are staggering: the NYT poll shows a majority of 74 – 21; even Rasmussen shows a majority of 56 – 34. What the president proposed this morning is simply where the American people are at. If he keeps at it, if he turns his administration into a permanent campaign for structural fiscal reform, I don’t see how he loses the argument.

It really is about time.

I have a few thoughts about the jobs bill that President Obama sent to Congress this morning.

  • Why didn’t Obama make this speech and propose this bill two and a half years ago?  He would actually have gotten it passed.  But he got caught up in passing health care.  That was also worthy, but much less urgent than stimulating the economy and putting people back to work.
  • It’s also nice to see Obama show a bit of a spine.  He’s let the Republicans set the agenda and control the debate for quite awhile.  It’s about time Obama realized that he’s the president and has a huge megaphone.  He can drown out the Republicans and make them smaller if only he’d actually do it.
  • It’s a good bill.  It’s not perfect, but what would be perfect?  It would put a lot of people back to work.  Working people spend money and pay taxes.  Deficits are reduced when people pay taxes.  In any case, deficits are long term problems.  Unemployment is a short term issue.  We have to get the economy off the dime and get people working again.
  • The bill is paid for by new taxes on the rich.  Republicans immediately complained that this would tax the very people who would create the jobs.  This overlooks a couple of things.  First, most jobs are created by small business.  Most of them aren’t really rich.  Second, this bill is paid for.  That’s saying something in this age, where interest rates are historically low and the cost of borrowing is incredibly cheap.  It also bows to the reality that Republicans don’t want more deficits.  I think that’s misguided right now, but okay.
  • Does anyone else find it ironic that Speaker Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, complained that Obama’s bill “wasn’t offered in that bipartisan spirit”?  I think that’s pretty rich, actually.  Absolutely nothing the Republicans have done since President Obama was elected, and especially since the last election, has remotely been bipartisan.  So spare me that one, Mr. Speaker.
So let’s get this bill passed.  I agree with President Obama.  Pass it as is.  Or he should take it to the people.  In fact, he should start doing that tomorrow morning.  He gives a great speech.  He needs to give some more now.

I’m disgusted with the Republicans’ lack of respect for President Obama.  Like him or not, he is the president, duly elected by the people on November 4, 2008.  Even if your stated goal is to make President Obama a one-term president, you still need to show him and his office the respect they deserve.

Several Republican lawmakers are blowing off the speech.  Congressman Joe Walsh (Illinois) and Sen. David Vitter (Louisiana) had previously announced that they would not attend.  Senator Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina, is the latest say he’s not going to he’s not going to Obama’s speech to Congress tonight.  DeMint is “sick and tired of speeches” and won’t go because the president didn’t send over an advance, written plan.

Obama has no obligation to send him an advance copy of the plan.  DeMint, conversely, does have an obligation to be there tonight. 

Also, Speaker Boehner wouldn’t return Obama’s calls during the debt ceiling hostage taking.

Nobody returned the president’s call.

On Thursday afternoon, President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had discussed a sweeping agreement that would have averted default on the national debt. On Thursday evening, Obama called back to talk more.

The president left a message, and waited.

The tone in Washington has gotten worse and worse during the Obama presidency.  I’m sure that Obama bears some of this blame.  But the Republicans are more disrespectful than I’ve ever seen.  I don’t want to call it racism, but can someone give me a better alternative? 

 These are matters of common courtesy for the office even if you abhor the man.  When the President of the United States calls, you drop what you’re doing and get on the phone.  When the President of the United States gives a speech to a joint session of Congress, you drop what you’re doing, you get yourself there, and you act like you’re listening.  Anything less is blatant disrespect to the man and the office.

Until the tone improves – and that starts with respect – nothing will change in Washington.  Gridlock will continue.  Nothing will get done.  And America will continue as a nation in decline.

This post might be a bit naïve, but a lot of people are skirting around it, not quite coming out and saying it.  I feel like it needs to be said.  Loudly.  I don’t have the megaphone that some have.  Since all I have is 20 or so regular readers and a computer with a free blog, this is the best I can do.

Is anyone else disturbed by how present religion is in American politics?  It seems to be particularly bad on the Republican side as candidates try to outdo each other with how devout and pious they are.  There is a de facto contest, especially in presidential politics, to outdo each other religiously.  And it seems to me that it’s gotten worse in recent years.  Ronald Reagan didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve like this.  Heck, George W. Bush didn’t either.

Rick Perry had a prayer rally.  Michele Bachmann is from a fundamentalist Lutheran sect.  Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism.  Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons.  All that’s fine; it’s completely fine to have a religion.  I’m reasonably religious myself; it’s impossible not to be when you’ve converted to Judaism, as I did almost a year ago.  But I don’t let my religion override my common sense in questioning what I see in the world.  (In fact, questioning is encouraged in Judaism.)

The rise of religion in politics is disturbing to me.  Religion is used to demagogue gays, science, really anything that can be remotely called progressive.  That bothers me, because at the same time we’re seeing the rise of religion, we’re seeing the decline of intellectualism on the right.  I’m not saying that right-wing politicians aren’t intelligent (although it’s clear that some of them are lightweights), but no one is thinking any more.  It’s all about the ideology.  I agreed with almost nothing he said, but I miss William F. Buckley.  There was a right-wing intellectual.  There are none like him now.  That’s a real pity.

It’s scary how much the Republican presidential candidates seem to be letting religion rule them.  I don’t mean privately; that’s perfectly fine.  I mean publicly, where it shouldn’t matter.  Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but when it’s this public it scares me.  People – people who write better than me – need to be talking and writing about it.  And voters need to call a halt to it, too.  Only then will this end.

From Ezra Klein today.  I don’t usually just post entire posts, but this one is good enough that it doesn’t need any comment from me, except “Exactly right.”

Daily Real Yield on TreasuriesThis is going to be the most boring sentence I have ever included in a column, but it might also be the most important: The real yield on Treasury debt has, in recent months, turned negative. Sound impenetrably dull? Sure. But here’s what it means: free money!

Let’s start by defining some terms: The “yield” on Treasury debt is how much the government pays to borrow money. The “real yield” is how much it pays to borrow money after accounting for inflation. When the “real yield” turns negative, it means the government isn’t paying to borrow money anymore. Rather, the situation has flipped, and the government is getting paid to keep money safe.

It also means that America is facing perhaps the single greatest investment opportunity in decades. But more on that in a moment. First, I have to convince you that free money — or, in this case, better-than-free money, as real yields are negative, not just zero — is possible.

If you’re an individual investor, you can put your money in the bank and be assured of its safety. Bank deposits, after all, are insured up to $250,000. But if you’re an institutional investor — if you’re playing with millions, or billions — it’s not quite that easy. You have to put that money somewhere. And right now, there aren’t a lot of safe spaces. Europe is a mess. China is slowing down. Brazil and India remain uncertain. Corporate profits can’t outpace a sluggish economy forever.

These investments don’t just carry the potential for weak returns. They carry the potential for big losses. So does stuffing money under the proverbial mattress, where you’d lose money every year simply because of inflation.

That’s where Treasury debt comes in. You won’t make much money investing in U.S. Treasurys. But barring a catastrophic outcome to some future negotiation over the debt ceiling, you won’t lose much, either. And right now, that’s good enough for the market.

Usually, the U.S. government has to pay quite a bit to borrow money. In January 2003, for instance, the interest rate on a seven-year Treasury was about 3.6 percent, which gave investors a yield of more than two percent after accounting for inflation. Right now, the interest rate is 1.52 percent, or minus-0.34 percent after accounting for inflation.

Here’s what this means: If we can think of any investments we can make over the next seven years that have a return of zero percent — yes, you read that right — or more, it would be foolish not to borrow this money and make them.

The case is even stronger with investments we know we will need to make over the next decade. The economy will get better, and as it gets better, the cost of borrowing will rise. The longer we wait, in other words, the more expensive those investments will become.

The only reason we wouldn’t take advantage of these rates is that we have no worthwhile investments to make. But that’s clearly not true.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, and we know we’ll have to rebuild it in the coming years. Why do it later, when it will cost us more and we very likely won’t have massive unemployment in the construction sector, as opposed to now, when the market will pay us to invest in our infrastructure and we have an unemployment crisis to address?

More than 16 percent of Americans are unemployed or underemployed: This would be a good time for an employer tax cut to goose hiring, or a larger payroll tax cut to help families make ends meet.

State and local budgets are wrecked, and one casualty has been higher education. California, for instance, is hacking away at the University of California system, which is far and away the finest public higher-education system in the world. If we permanently damage our public colleges and universities, we’ll have lost a major source of economic strength. But it needn’t be that way. Kindly investors the world over are willing to pay the federal government to save our education system.

Everyone knows we have worthwhile investments to make. The real reason we won’t take advantage of this remarkable opportunity is ideology: Republicans argue that deficits are the only thing that matters for our recovery — unless anyone attempts to close them through tax increases, and then tax rates are the only thing that matters for our recovery. And Democrats have stopped even attempting to challenge them.

As an economic theory, that’s just dead wrong. Deficits matter, but in the long and medium term. What matters now is getting the unemployment rate down.

Need proof? Well, what’s worrisome about deficits? That high federal deficits will crowd out private borrowing. And how do we know if that’s happening? High interest rates. And where are interest rates now? They’re negative.

They won’t be negative forever, of course. The path forward is obvious: We should borrow now and put in place a firm plan to cut deficits later, once the economy is back on track and investors have other places to put their money. But refusing better-than-free money now in order to talk about reducing our deficit later? Well, that may be the craziest sentence I’ve ever had to include in a column.

It’s not exactly a newsflash, but the Republicans are blatantly hypocritical when it comes to their no taxes pledge.  They now want to let the payroll tax cut expire at the end of the year, adding about $1,000 a year to working Americans’ tax bills.  The same Republicans who were willing to let America default are now willing to endorse what amounts to a $120 billion tax increase.

Ezra Klein looks at this today:

One possible answer is that a large tax increase in an election year is good for them because it’s bad for President Obama and the economy. But that’s a pretty cynical explanation. Another is that they care more about tax rates on the rich than they do about tax rates on the poor. But they resist that argument. The real answer, Republicans says, is that they just don’t like temporary tax cuts.

”We don’t need short-term gestures,” explained Sen. Lamar Alexander. “Temporary tax rebates don’t work to create economic growth,” said Rep. Paul Ryan. Brad Dayspring, the spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, says his boss “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”

But as Jon Chait noted, Republicans proposed and passed temporary tax cuts in 2001 and 2008. Ryan voted for both packages. So did Cantor. And Alexander. So the GOP seemed to believe in temporary tax cuts when George W. Bush was president.

[…]

In other words, Republicans have frequently fought for temporary tax cuts. When offered the choice between a larger temporary tax cut and a smaller permanent tax cut, as happened in 2001 and 2003 and 2010, they have opted for the temporary tax cut. Now that Obama has come to endorse a temporary tax cut, they have stopped supporting it — a pattern we’ve seen on many other issues, as well. But the idea that the party has had some steady, policy-based objection to temporary tax cuts just doesn’t fit the record.

I’ll take the cynical views that Ezra mentions in his post.  Mitch McConnell’s stated goal was to keep President Obama to one term.  That’s pretty bold honesty from a politician.  To me, it looks like two things.  The Republicans are willing to screw the working poor and middle class to protect the rich.  The Republicans are also completely unwilling to do anything that President Obama wants to do, whether it’s good for the country or not.

During the budget ceiling and deficit reduction debate, Republicans were unwilling to consider any new revenues at all.  Let’s leave aside the obvious lie from Sen. Alexander (of course temporary measures help – all stimulus programs are temporary).  We need stimulus for this economy.  Some economists believe that the US economy is already in recession.  Again.  And all they’re doing in Washington is blathering on about the need for deficit reduction. 

We don’t need deficit reduction at all.  What we need is a robust jobs program.  We need to help the long term unemployed.  They face a real human catastrophe.  We need to get those people back to work.  The deficit will be reduced just by people working again and paying taxes again.  Keynes was right.  Government needs to step in during times when the economy is weak.  Republicans either forgot that, or don’t care.

The Republicans have forgotten – or again, don’t care – that they need to govern.  And that means doing what’s right, not trying to stack the deck with a weak economy so that Obama’s reelection chances are lessened.  A poor economy could benefit the Republicans weak presidential field in 2012.  So they do what they can to keep the economy weak and the working poor and middle class continue to suffer, and the Republicans rich friends keep getting richer.

All the talk these days is about how the United States simply must reduce its budget deficit.  There’s a target reduction of $1.5 trillion over 10 years.  Democrats and Republicans, predictably, differ on how to get that done.  I think they’re both misguided at the moment.  We need to be focusing on jobs.

We seem to be forgetting our history in this country.  It’s a cliché, but those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.  We’re worried about reducing the deficit at a time when the economy is still sluggish, just as we did in the 1930s.  The difference here, though, is that there isn’t another world war on the horizon to pull us out of it.

It all comes back to jobs.  If we get people working again, like we did in the 1990s, we will increase tax receipts, which in turn reduces the deficit.  We have so many projects that need to be done.  The freeways are in horrible shape, as are airports, BART stations (to say nothing of their cars), bridges, and so on.  Some of this stimulus was done in 2009.  But much, much more is needed.  We absolutely have to get people working again.

Despite the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of US Treasury debt, interest rates on that debt remain incredibly cheap.  This is definitely the progressive, Keynesian view, but we should be borrowing more, not less, right now.  And then we need to be investing in infrastructure and other projects that get people working again.  If we can get companies hiring again, the economy will start to grow at a healthy rate.  And that will reduce the deficit, and the debt.

But instead, the Democrats (and let’s not forget the mainstream Republican complicity in this, using and abetting the tea party movement as a path back to power) let a small faction of extremely conservative people completely control the debate.  So any stimulus is dead on arrival.  And the economy just sputters along.  People’s lives just sputter along.  How does that serve anyone?

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