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Pierce writes: "The public has tumbled to the fact that the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats, trickle-down palaver has been a scam all along."

The US Capitol building in Washington. (photo: EPA)
The US Capitol building in Washington. (photo: EPA)

How the Democrats Can Make the Republicans Pay

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

15 November 12


esides associating myself with this morning's remarks from Professor Krugman, I'd also like to say that behaving as though you are operating out of a panic ginned-up by financiers, pundits, and people who still want your head on a stick is no way to celebrate stomping a mudhole in Willard Romney's privileged ass. The president on Friday afternoon shouldn't just give a "statement about the action we need to take to keep our economy growing and reduce our deficit." The president should call a press conference and calmly explain that giant winged lizards from hell will not rise from fissures in the earth if we hold the matter of the Gentle Fiscal Incline over until after the holidays and that, in the meantime, if the best the Republican "leadership" can do is what it's doing - to denigrate the beating they took (Mitch McConnell) or suggest that, now that Willard Romney's has had a mudhole stomped in his ass, the best way forward is for both parties to join hands and agree to implement the basics of Willard Romney's economic plan (John Boehner) - then it's probably best if we wait until cooler heads have had a couple of egg nogs and we all come back and develop a consensus that one side, you know, actually lost on Tuesday. Any questions?

It long has been my opinion that, sooner or later, it is the responsibility of the Democratic party to the future of the republic and the political commonwealth to beat the Republicans so badly in so many areas that the Republicans are faced with a choice of either historical irrelevance, or wringing the craziness out of their party by enforcing a set of party orthodoxies that does not include creationism, gay-bashing, anti-science lunacy, and the crackpot economic theory that has infected the party ever since Arthur Laffer found that cocktail napkin in the airport bar. Until that glorious day when we have proportional voting, viable third parties, and sparkling white unicorn ponies, like it or not, the Democratic party is the only political institution capable of doing that job. That it largely has shirked that job ever since the first time somebody yelled "peacenik!" at it in the late autumn of 1972 does not make the job less real, or the urgency of doing it less immediate.

Because the Republican economic vision for the country lost as decisively on Tuesday as Todd Akin did, and for the same reason. The economic principles of Paul Ryan are no less nutty than Akin's views on the magical contraceptive powers of the potions within the ladyparts. They are a recipe for oligarchy for the few and dystopia for the many. And, in case anybody missed it, the zombie-eyed granny-starving "budget" geek's home state went for the president in a very big way, and he only won re-election to his House seat by 11 points, the lowest margin of victory he's ever had.

The project should begin with the economy, because the choice of historical irrelevance or wringing out the crazy on other issues is going to take care of itself. Demographics are going to force the choice on the Republicans as far as immigration goes, and also on issues relating to the reproductive freedom of women. The country as a whole has shown that it's going to force the choice on them as regards gay rights. The ocean is going to make the choice for them on climate change. It is the economic issues, then, on which that choice will have to be forced on them by the Democrats directly, and within the framework of political negotiation.

In short, and on the pure politics of it, there's really nothing to negotiate. The public wants a more progressive tax code with fewer loopholes for the wealthy. (The carried-interest loophole is a disgrace to an evolved democracy.) The public wants programs like Social Security and Medicare strengthened, but not by "reforming" the guaranteed-benefit part of them out of the equation. The public wants more regulation on Wall Street than even Dodd-Frank has given us. The public has tumbled to the fact that the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats, trickle-down palaver has been a scam all along. You know what happens with a rising tide if you don't have a boat? You drown.

But, thanks to our old friend Mr. Madison, budget bills have to originate in the House, which means we have to involve the Speaker, which means we have to take into account the fact that he presides over a hatchful of boobies. We take that into account. One, two, three. Okay, we done? It is then explained to Mr. Boehner that the Romney economic plan is not going to be the rock on which we build the church. It is then explained to Mr. Boehner that, henceforward, there will be more punishment for obstructionism than there will be a reward for it. The Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 are as dead as Richard Mourdock's political career. The payroll tax cut goes on. How he explains it to the people in the House is his own business, and he can take as much time as he wants to do it, but there will be no hostage-taking this time around. What was done to Willard Romney can be done to John Boehner. He can be loyal to his caucus, and the clamorous hallelujah chorus of wingnuts urging them on from the cheap seats, or he can be loyal to the people of his home state, which did, after all, clinch the election for the president.

I will stipulate, under severe coercion, that the president has an obligation to govern the country with Republicans, even the toweringly awful Republicans who hold a majority in the House. But he is under absolutely no obligation to make John Boehner's life easier politically, nor is he under any obligation to soften the hard choices that the Republicans have backed themselves into after three decades of encouraging the crazy in all aspects of our public life. Here is Exhibit A. Choose, Mr. Speaker. Those people, or a part in actually helping to govern the country. There's no third alternative. Not any more.

(Has Mr. Needham there ever been in an actual war? Of course, not. If he had, he might've learned that, when you lose as badly as his side lost on Tuesday, you sue for terms or you get overrun.)

One of the real problems in this country has been that the Republicans have taken extreme positions and paid no lasting political price for them. They've lost election, certainly, but elections are not the only place where a political price must be paid. It must also be paid within the everyday negotiations within which the government functions. It is time to make John Boehner choose between being a responsible constitutional officer, or being the creature of all the bats and flying things that have so damaged the country, and that have so scoured the soul of his party. That's his problem. The president should give him until after the first of the year to think about it. your social media marketing partner


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+32 # grouchy 2012-11-15 10:36
Oh my Gowd, YEAH!!!!!!
+36 # DPM 2012-11-15 11:18
I have no confidence that the president won't cave, time and again, as he did in his first term.
One of my biggest hopes is that I have to eat those words.
+13 # jon 2012-11-15 12:42
Charles Pierce, that was a GREAT statement !!
+9 # Joe Bob 2012-11-15 17:49
Now how do we get Obama to listen/read it?
+19 # elmont 2012-11-15 13:21
I agree with this article except for one thing for which I will no doubt be hammered with a lot of red thumb-downs. The reduction in Social Security taxes has got to go. As responsible adults, we MUST protect Social Security from the fallout of the demographic facts of increased life spans and a smaller proportion of contributing workers. If Social Security is to survive--and, almost as important, have ongoing political support--we must either raise SS taxes, reduce benefits, delay benefits, or some combination of these three options. Reducing taxes is exactly the wrong thing to do. And please don't tell me this is just a temporary economic shot in the arm. This thing is already morphing into the new normal.
+15 # robbak11 2012-11-15 14:35
I couldn't agree more with your comment, as subsidizing the SS trust fund out of the budget makes SS a budgetary issue which it's designed not to be.
+2 # bingers 2012-11-17 09:33
Quoting robbak11:
I couldn't agree more with your comment, as subsidizing the SS trust fund out of the budget makes SS a budgetary issue which it's designed not to be.

The only thing necessary for Social Security to be totally solvent forever is to eliminate the cap entirely. You make a billion you pay 2% on the entire bloated income, period.
+10 # AndreM5 2012-11-15 15:54
We have been hollering about this issue on these pages for two years. Welcome to the crowd.
+1 # 2012-11-16 00:00
Time you all remember and/or study Keynesian Real Economic Theories then tell political leaders to back of the one or other pushed by selfish party influences.
"Stimulus" is extremely important as is "Austerity" only timing and politics must be optimally targeted to fact not labor -v- Capital political greed influenced.
Sure the poor need "Stimulus" welfare and all sorts of things help save their worst miseries, creating jobs if done right not unreasonable debt.
So by all means try very long term cheap interest etc for next gen to pay willingly, because with that debt they inherit the assets bought cheaper in past materials and labor cost and inflation etc. By labor intensive regional infrastructures , even local taxes can partly help the National stimulus packages as Australia's REDS Scheme did so well in the 70"s to create labor employment. Today's labor benefits from the employment wages, tomorrows debt payers benefit from the capital assets they inherit in good shape.
But at the very same time Keynesian theory allows for "Austerity" in the things the 1% &10% keep demanding luxury waste, and Corporate AMERICA KEEPS DEMANDING WAR to sell more machines & they CAN OFFER PHONY "TRICKLE DOWN" theories that never come to pass.

Cheers and good luck with destruction of that New World Order and bullying all the Nations in the World is a DEAD USA economic mistake.
+2 # golferdawn 2012-11-17 12:30
One of the changes that is of utmost importance, in my opinion, is to end the income cap for social security contributions. It should be collected on all income for all people, just as it is on most of Americans.
+5 # robbak11 2012-11-15 14:05
I read this piece because the title seemed to say "here's how to make the Republicans pay" but the article never actually got around to that. The implication is that if Obama were to stand fast, something he has never done, Boehner will have to yield. Why? What leverage has Obama got that he's not using? How do we do to Boehner what was done to Romney? The whole piece goes on and on without ever addressing ways to gain the needed leverage.
+8 # Robert B 2012-11-15 19:50
How about building an organization in Boehner's district? Encourage Democrats to run against him. Start campaigning as soon as possible. Spend the next two years biting Boehner's ankles at every opportunity. The orange man can be defeated and ought to be. If Tom Foley could get booted out, so could John Boehner. But not if he's running unopposed. Howard Dean's 50-state strategy was right.
+11 # Onterryo 2012-11-15 14:49
As a bank management employee, in the early 80's I was brainwashed and bought into the "all boats rise with the tide" approach. We were inundated with articles and books on the Japanese style of managment and we were led to believe the same thing could work in North America. The only problem was corporate and executive greed. They believed ultimately they were responsible for the growth in profits and not middle management, junior management and the rest of the employees. They shared a bonus pool while we got our 2-3% increases unless you were ranked superior competent or excellent which got you 4-5%. Of course, the "curve" was applied to all of the employees which meant that even if a branch doubled its profits there still could only be 1 or 2 (max) employees rated excellent of superior and most were rated competent. Then along came "Best Practices" which was supposed to apply to eveyone but, in truth, exceptions were made for senior management and executives. Maybe some senior people were duped too, but in the end you realize that all of us were manipulated and used.
+10 # Onterryo 2012-11-15 14:57
Time for moderate Republicans to throw Grover Norquist onto the garbage heap. This is not his grandfather's America anymore and it ain't coming back. If Republicans have hope about the next elections it can only be realized with a decision to renounce their "No new tax" pledges and agree to review each possible tax increase on its own merits.
+7 # AndreM5 2012-11-15 15:56
You mean "Poopy Head" Grover? This corrupt freak should join Rove on the ash heap of history. Today.
+1 # 2012-11-15 23:41
I never knew how anyone but Romeny ever thought he could win with lies and bull-toss at every point.
I have long believed the GOP claim they have been 4 years plotting how to win again. But my view they chose that looser pretty face mouth etc., so he would loose and let Obi-One-Can[I-b e president can take the bklame for the difficult depression that will come now. Then in 2016 they can become saviours and hold all power for 20 years as Dem's did after last depression and war as they saved the day after Gop created havock.
+6 # Dave45 2012-11-16 01:11
Pierce is right; it all started back when the Democratic Party got all embarrassed about its antiwar "peaceniks" back in the early seventies. Ever since, in every presidential election they have won they have immediately turned around and tried to do everything they could to get the cooperation and respect of the Republicans, all the while forgetting the people of their own party who put them in office. Boehner and his ilk should have to "pay," and that could be accomplished simply by not inviting them to the table and accomplishing what the people elected the D's to do through executive orders, which Mr. Obama, for some unknown reason, seems to find distasteful. Quit debating with the Republicans; don't argue with them. Make them make their own case to their own people. Like my daddy used to say, never argue with a fool; somebody overhearing the conversation may not be able to tell the difference.
+2 # bingers 2012-11-17 09:42
I love Charlie Pierce, Matt Taibbi, Greg Palast and all the other actual Journalists.

When Diogenes was looking "for one honest man" he was carrying out the Oracle's charge to "deface the currency" which he interpreted as a charge to call out dishonest politicians. He'd be out of luck looking on the right side of the aisle in either house of Congress or amongst the Supreme Court conservatives.

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