Krugman, as usual, has a good op-ed in the Times today discussing, among other things, the effect of the stimulus on our teetering economy and the cynical Republican response to it. (For what it’s worth, and to throw a bi-partisan bone to the people, a lot of blue dog Democrats seem to understand economic issues no better than the Republican leadership). He points out in passing that “Republicans, providing a bit of comic relief, are saying that the stimulus has failed, because the enabling legislation was passed four months ago — wow, four whole months! — yet unemployment is still rising,” and then goes on to show that Reagan’s tax cut of 1981 was followed by rising unemployment for 16 months.
Now, I don’t expect Republicans to cast a critical eye towards Reagan–he’s their knight in shining armor, after all–but I do expect them to have staffers who understand economic issues well enough to explain to them that highly integrated and complex economies such as our own don’t turn on a dime, or even on a near-trillion dollar stimulus. In four months, Obama hasn’t even been able to fill up all the vacant seats at the Treasury; how’s he supposed to restore faith in the markets, get credit flowing freely, balance the budget (not that I give a shit about this right now, but many members of the right do), and bring us to full employment? Well, he’s not, and Republican Congressmen surely know this. If they don’t, then they should consider having a mid-life crisis, taking on mistresses (or the male equivalent), and getting into another line of work. But they do, and all of their harrumphing to the contrary speaks rather poorly of the state of the American opposition party at the moment.
That is, we can have legitimate discussions about social issues, national defense, the unitary executive, “activist” judges, and our bellicose foreign policy, and even though I disagree vigorously with the right on all of these (and even many of the Obama-pie-in-the-sky left now, too, at least with regard to the unitary executive and national defense), it still seems like they’re being honest with themselves in their arguments. It’s when they so evidently aren’t being honest–when they are, dare I say, lying to their constituents–that I worry about the general state of political discourse in this country.
But, then again, fuck ’em. They’re marginalizing themselves into irrelevancy. Our job now is to make sure that we keep Obama honest. Which is a tall enough order as it is, come to think of it.