Todd Akin thinks he’s being treated unfairly – after all, he only made a “six second mistake” when he mispoke about lady parts, rape and the right to chose not to carry your rapist’s baby:
“My six-second mistake is well known. But Claire McCaskill’s six-year record is something you should know. “McCaskill voted with Obama 98 percent of the time. She cast the deciding vote to pass Obamacare, that cuts Medicare by over $700 billion dollars. She voted for Obama’s budget-busting stimulus spending and raised our taxes but didn’t pay her own.
What’s this election about? Saving our country.
I’m glad that Akin feels so sanguine about his little misadventure in expressing his deepest beliefs. He wants us to think that Claire McCaskill’s six year record more than balances his little error – and maybe to the reality-challenged rigtwingers who form his base that’s the case. Who can account for lunatics anyway?
However, in common with Missouri GOP spokesperson, Mr. Prouty, whom we referenced in a previous post, Brother Todd has failed to get his facts straight. He thinks Claire McCaskill has voted with Obama 98% of the time. First of all what does 98% of the time mean? Much of what Claire McCaskill and other senators have voted on is routine, or otherwise so removed from the scope of partisan distinction that it’s almost impossible to make quantitative statements of this sort – and if you do, I’d really want to know what your criteria is. We’ve already noted (and documented) the fact elsewhere that McCaskill’s voting record is a lot more complex than can be digested in simple soundbites – and it’s far from always being congenial with a progressive, or even the Obama administration agenda (and, FYI, they’re not always the same thing either).
But where Todd, who likes to claim that he’s an honest man, really oversteps the boundaries of truth is when he echoes the dishonest claims about Medicare that are also being promulgated by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. As I am now writing for the umpteenth hundred time, the $750 billion that Obamacare cuts from Medicare are mostly administrative costs, including subsidies to private supplemental insurance programs with inflated costs. These supplemental programs will not go away, but will be tied to quality metrics so that we get a better bang for the buck. As The Swampland notes, The Obamacare cuts that Claire McCaskill supported will not change the program’s benefits:
The idea, however, that the Affordable Care Act struck a dangerous blow to Medicare that will change the program in fundamental ways is untrue. Under the new law, Medicare will remain a wildly popular, public single-payer health insurance system that provides comprehensive coverage to millions of Americans.
Nor does pious Brother Todd tell us that he voted for the Ryan budget that makes those same identical cuts, plows the money’s into the deficit (where it’s hardly a drop in the bucket) instead of using it to expand benefits, and then, after taking the Medicare loose change, voucherizes Medicare, essentially destroying the program for current as well as the future retirees who are the only ones Ryan says will be affected. Pretty devastating. And just like the lying Romney/Ryan duo, Todd hasn’t got the cojones to admit what he’s proposing to do with Medicare, but tries to lay it off on Claire McCaskill. For shame, Rep. Akin.
Oh, and by the way – there is a consensus among economists is that the stimulus did work. But I’ll give Brother Todd a pass on his naysaying piece of GOP BS on the topic since he probably gets his economic information from the same sources who told him about the birds and bees.
….on Wednesday, under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree.
In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 80 percent of economic experts agreed that, because of the stimulus, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been otherwise.
“Only 4 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee. “That,” he added, “is a distinct minority.”
Elmendorf’s testimony came in response to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a member of the tea party caucus. Huelskamp asserted that the stimulus was a failure because it did not keep the jobless rate below 8 percent, as the Obama administration predicted.
“Where did Washington mess up?” Huelskamp demanded. “Because you’re saying most economists think it should’ve worked. It didn’t.”
Most economists not only think it should have worked; they think it did work, Elmendorf replied. CBO’s own analysis found that the package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of 2010, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession….
Yesterday, via Twitter:
Rep. Vicky Hartzler @RepHartzler
2010 was deemed the Recovery Summer, yet two years later we are still dealing with the realities of failed policy. [….] 1:31 PM – 6 Jun 12
Yes, we had the republicans opposing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), some hand wringing from “centrists” who prevailed in scaling it back as “a compromise” even though no republicans were going to support it anyway, and of, course, the republicans gleefully spinning that the stimulus “failed”. Who could have predicted this turn of events?:
….You’d think that it would eventually sink in that Lucy always pulls the football away. Always….
And yet, “….the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree….” As if that makes any difference to reality challenged right wingnut republicans.
Remember when GOPer Roy Blunt ran for the Senate by harping on the “failed” stimulus?
Remember when Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) took to the floor of the U.S. House to denounce the Recovery Act (i.e., the stimulus) as a failure, and Obama and the Democrats for turning the Bush recession into a depression?
Remember when Rep. Billy Long (R-6) demanded that Congress “admit they made a mistake and vote to repeal the Stimulus Act in order to reduce our deficit”?
These examples offer a very small subset of the disrespect that our GOP delegation lobbed at the Recovery Act. Almost every Missouri GOPer has a small archive of similar statements. They are usually accompanied by recipes for budget cuts, deficit reduction and similar austerity measures.
Which is what makes this chart (h/t Maddow blog) so sweet (for those of us in the U.S. at least). Look at what happened to Great Britain and the Eurozone countries that took the austerity message so deeply to heart:
Britain, whose austerity policies many GOPers urged the administration to emulate, has officially entered a “double-dip” recession, while the U.S., where our President and his Democratic allies managed to push a small stimulus past GOP obstructionists, shows slow but consistent growth ever since the stimulus package began to take effect in the second half of 2009.
Don’t forget, either, that many economists have faulted the Recovery act only for being too small. Most realize, though, that a larger stimulus would have been impossible given the Republican’s hide-bound, seemingly ideological opposition to the Keynesian approach that proved so effective in the 1930s and 40s.
Ed Kilgore, reporting on Robert Draper’s new book on the 111th Congress, quotes several passages that indicate that the GOP war on the stimulus may have been motivated by political considerations as much or even more than ideological concerns. Draper recounts the almost immediate mobilization of key Republican policy makers, at a dinner on the night of the Obama inauguration no less, to devise ways to “submarine” the Obama presidency. Kilgore summarizes the strategy they devised:
In Draper’s account, these schemers decided on three very immediate steps: a campaign of villification [sic] aimed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, an effort to obtain a unanimous vote in the House against economic stimulus legislation, and an early initiation of attack ads.
So political has the attack on the stimulus been and so divorced from fact, that I doubt whether the dire effects of the austerity crash across the Atlantic will penetrate GOP rhetoric in the slightest degree. I predict we’ll continue to hear the same tired canards about the “failed” stimulus” from the same cast of characters from now until November. Maybe then, if we’re lucky, the players will change for the better – in a few cases at least.
We all know that Republicans managed, in some circles at least, to turn “stimulus” into a dirty word. Missouri Republicans are no exception. A few of them used the third anniversary of the stimulus, along with the presentation of President Obama’s budget, to try to freshen up the tired old refrain they’ve been singing for the past three years.
In 2009, I opposed the ill-fated and now notorious “stimulus” plan. This legislation placed an additional $787 billion atop already record debt levels, without any realistic promise of actual long term job creation or stabilization of our economy. If government spending was truly the answer to our problems, we should now have a booming economy. Despite the Obama spending spree, reported unemployment lingers around 9%, and real unemployment hangs closer to 20%. Spending only makes our economic woes worse
Vicky Hartzler’s statement marking the third anniversary of the stimulus:
Today’s third anniversary of the signing into law of President Obama’s failed stimulus bill should serve as a stark reminder that the President’s policies have failed and are making the economy worse. He told us that with approval of the stimulus our unemployment rate would never reach 8 percent. Sadly, the country’s jobless rate has been above 8 percent for 36 straight months – the longest period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression. The number of Americans on food stamps is at an all time high, while the number of new business start-ups is at a 17-year low. President Obama got the spending he asked for, but the American people never got the jobs they were promised. House Republicans have passed nearly 30 job-creation bills that are being blocked by the Senate. It is time for the Senate to say ‘yes’ to House policies that will create jobs and to say ‘no’ to the President’s tried and failed ideas.
Roy Blunt used the President’s new budget as an opportunity to go after the idea of stimulus as well:
More spending. Higher unemployment. Record debt. That’s what we have to show for the Obama Economy and the so-called “stimulus” debacle.
Notice the differing unemployment baseline above? Nobody’s lying, just trying to finesse the fact that unemployment numbers have been steadily improving and have reached the lowest number in four years – since, in fact, GOP “free market” policies wrecked the economy. Looks mightily like the members of the Grand Old Party might have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into an economic recovery.
What do real economists say about the stimulus and the role it played in saving our bacon? Ezra Klein summarizes several recent efforts to assess the stimulus and finds that they are overwhelmingly thumbs up about the stimulus. Specifically:
The University of Chicago’s Booth business school recently surveyed the nation’s top economists, and the vast majority agreed that the economy would be in worse shape today without the stimulus.
Or, if the University of Chicago isn’t good enough for you, try the Council of Economic Advisor who recently found (pdf) that:
… there would’ve been between 2.2 million and 4.2 million fewer Americans employed if the [stimulus] bill had never passed. (They round up a number of studies from places like the CBO, Moody’s, Goldman Sachs and so forth.)
Klein also offers:
…Dylan Matthew’s comprehensive round-up of nine economic studies of the stimulus bill. Of those, six found a significant positive effect on growth and unemployment, while three found either a small or hard-to-predict effect.
Now I know that the “counter-factual,” as Klein calls it is no more than figures and facts, and as such, carries no weight with the Tea Party Constitutional scholars that Akin, Hartzler, Blunt, et al. are targeting with their, by now, Pavlovian evocations of stimulus, but I know who I believe. And this is why:
I voted against an amdt to cede one of Congress’s core constitutional duties to Pres Obama & unaccountable bureaucrats bit.ly/wm6Lt4
Care to hazard a guess about what that means? If you’re curious, just follow the link, which leads you to a press release where you’ll learn that Blunt’s congratulating himself on his vote to preserve earmarks.
So why didn’t the Senator just say so? Could it be because earmarks pose a problem for him? Blunt’s for ’em. Lots of the right wingers he relies on are agin ’em. (Here’s a golden-oldie from RedState’s Erik on topic of Blunt and earmarks). Because these are the folks who held their nose and promoted Blunt to the Senate despite his lobbyist-loving, high-spending, big government ways, I’m betting that the double-speak above is meant to help finesse his earmarking proclivities with that important constituency. Consider this passage from his press release:
Directing federal spending is a congressional responsibility that is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and lawmakers do our constituents a disservice by statutorily yielding this power to the White House and to the thousands of nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington who are completely unaccountable to the people whose dollars they spend.
The largest Obama earmark was the President’s nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill, which was doled out without congressional input and ultimately failed to create or save the jobs that were promised by the White House. Most recently, we witnessed what happens when President Obama is given unbridled power during the Solyndra debacle – just one piece of the stimulus that proved to be a reprehensible waste of taxpayers’ dollars
Nameless, faceless bureaucrats! Imagine! But that’s just one of the Pavlovian bells and whistles embedded in this seemingly bland piece of apparent boiler-plate; there’s a constitutional something-or-the-other (anything modified by constitutional goes over big with the Tea Partiers), tried and true and, incidentaly, demonstrably false, anti-stimulus rhetoric, and the pretense that the pathetic effort to make noise about the small-peas Solyndra failure represents something more than a GOP desperate for at least one good Obama administration scandal.
To give you an idea about just how canned these references are, and how divorced from reality, consider the almost ritual evocation of the stimulus. If I remember correctly, lots of GOPers were decrying the stimulus as nothing but earmarked pork – while, at the same time, many were trying to get as big a bite of that pork as they could manage. Senator Blunt chooses to ignore this aspect of the stimulus spending. We do learn, however, that because the bulk of the stimulus was allocated by government agencies according to formulas that guarantee a certain degree of accountability, Blunt thinks it was “Obama’s earmark,” which, in spite of his approval of earmarks, he believes to be a bad thing. My mind reels.
The poet Charles Simic, writing about the New Hampshire GOP primary in the New York Review of Books (Feb. 23) (accessible to subscribers only), made a telling observation about how synthetic and empty conservative rhetoric has become:
A local newspaper editor told me that the opinions in the many letters and e-mails he receives have become less identifiable as written by distinct individuals than ever before. From their prose it seems that their minds were apparently made up by someone else. Practically every businessman will tell you the same thing about the economy, he said; practically all the social conservatives will say that what’s wrong with this country is its moral values. The letters to the editor he receives increasingly use identical words and phrases that come from flyers the writers receive in the mail.
One could say much the same thing about the statements of GOP pols like Blunt. From focus groups and strategists to politicians’ mouths, and finally, to Tea Partiers’ ears, it’s all the same. Simic begins his NYR essay with a quote from Samuel Beckett’s Murphy that sums it up nicely:
The fool in league with the knave against himself is a combination that none may withstand.
During his campaign for Congress last year, freshman Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) called for a complete repeal of President Obama’s stimulus program. “I hope that Congress will admit they made a mistake and vote to repeal the Stimulus Act in order to reduce our deficit,” he said confidently at the time. Once he got into office, Long’s opinion did not change. On the second annivsary of the bill’s signing, Long sent out a press release claiming that the stimulus had “failed.”
However, Long was singing a different tune last week when he stood with officials at a ceremony for a new health clinic in his district. On Friday, Long appeared with other community leaders to break ground for the new Access Family Care clinic in Cassville, Missouri. The construction was made possible with a $635,000 grant from the stimulus, secured in part by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who unlike Long supported the stimulus….
He doesn’t have a clue or he doesn’t care. I can’t figure out which one.
Here’s Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) wailing about the threat posed by the deficit:
It is imperative that we address the unsustainable growth in entitlement spending and debt service, which is now eating up the entirety of government revenue. If we fail to address those facts we will be facing a total economic meltdown. …
Here’s Senator Roy Blunt doing his wooden imitation of someone wailing abut the threat posed by the deficit:
I believe we’re facing an historic crossroads in our nation’s long-term financial health. Voters sent a clear message last fall that they expect us to make the tough choices to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending, and they expect us to do it now.
Keeping in mind that both of these gentlemen were members of Congress during the Bush years, take a careful look at the chart below (from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) which outlines the individual drivers of the federal debt:
Let’s see – great big parts of the debt seem to be due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although the Bush tax cuts are undoubtedly the biggest contributor. Both of these expensive exercises, may I remind you, were heartily endorsed by Messrs. Akin and Blunt during their years in the GOP ascendancy. The other big piece of deficit pie seems to be the decline in revenue that resulted from the economy going smash. This event, as I am sure you remember, came about as a result of the mismanagement practiced by the regulation averse Bush administration, aided and abetted by a GOP congress heavily in hock to corporate interests that wanted to keep on playing without adult supervision. TARP and the stimulus (labeled “recovery measures” in the chart), favorite targets of GOPers like Akin and Blunt, were small potatoes in the deficit pantry.
Tell me now, how do these folks who time and time again voted to raise the debt ceiling for Mr. Bush, justify sanctimonious little diatribes like those above? Or, envision putting all our economic welfare on the line in order to play politics with the debt ceiling when it’s the Democratic Mr. Obama in the White House? Of course, I already know the answer. As Jonathan Capehart said today in reference to the graph above, memories are, lamentably, short, which, I would add, means that con artists like Akin, Blunt and their ilk seem to be able to get away with just about any made-up story they want to tell.
In case you want proof that GOP nowadays stands for nothing more than Gut the Obama Presidency – no matter how badly it damages the public welfare – I’ve got a story for you. The essential background involves the way GOP pols won’t shut up about the “failed” stimulus, even though almost all analyses of the facts show that the stimulus spending was one of the factors that saved us from a flat-out depression. Some of you have also no doubt read about the numerous instances where GOP pols who voted against the stimulus and who continue to lie about its success, have also tried to take credit for projects that the stimulus brought to their states.
Which brings us to the 112th congress where the House of Representatives is dominated by the gentlemen of the Spiteful Old Party who are getting ready to kick, scream, and hold their breath until they turn blue and pass out, or until they get their way. And it seems that what they want is to destroy the economic benefits created by the stimulus – for no more reason evidently than to deny the other guys a tangible success, even one that has already been misrepresented almost out of political existence.
One of the ways they are planning to achieve this goal is by canceling the authority to expend the small amount of unspent money allocated to the stimulus – although such funds are almost all already committed to in-process projects. This move packs, as Think Progressobserves, a double whammy:
… By cutting off stimulus funds to current projects, Republicans could leave projects half-finished and force mass layoffs at stimulus-funded sites. This wasteful idea is even more cynical given the fact that Republicans have taken credit for major stimulus projects that are still ongoing and could be affected by their new anti-stimulus budget:
Guess what Missouri project fits this description? If you guessed the Highway 141 expansion that isn’t due to be completed until September 2012, you’d be right. And guess what Missouri Tea Party Caucusing GOPer is giving his imprimatur to recalling the funds for the project? This time, you’d be right if you said Todd Akin (R-2). Now remember back to the time when work on the Highway 141 project first began, and Rep. Akin was on hand to bless the highway project and try to garner his little bit of credit for the jobs it would create and infrastructure improvement we would all enjoy. He wasn’t a bit shy about trying to hog the camera then.
Akin has been pretty blatant about claiming credit for stimulus projects in the past – we wrote some time ago about how he falsely tried to take credit for securing funds for the old Gravois bridge that was rebuilt with stimulus funds he voted against. Of course, ignoring the source of the funds for the expansion of Highway 141 in St. Louis County wasn’t in the cards, so Akin tried to hijack part of the credit for the project while simultaneously backhanding the stimulus:
This was paid for by a bill that I hate.. I didn’t vote for it and I still wouldn’t vote for it and on the other hand.. we ended up getting the money for this project which I think is a very high priority,” he said. “It’s unfortunately just a very small part of that bill.
Much of the spending in that bill went to similar projects and to tax cuts. I wonder what it is Akin hates? Especially now that he wants to leave all those projects in the lurch without funds that have already been allocated.
While it’s sometimes fun to watch a hack politician try a delicate balancing act, the performance leaves me with another question. Just what would it take to wake up the complacent individuals who have continued to vote for Akin in election after election? Surely, few individuals, even everyday, rank-and-file Republicans, want to endorse hypocritical politicians who can turn on a dime and sacrifice the welfare of their constituents in order to score political points?