The Republicans' Big Game
Taking a page from the Bush War Manual, David Brooks uses his NYT column today to call the Democrats’ bluff...or so he says.
Brooks accuses Congressional Dems for continually blasting President Bush on his treatment of the poor and for catering to his corporate cronies but then refusing to support the President when he actually puts forward a plan to progressively reform Social Security in favor of low income workers. And since progressive reform must surely be something Democrats favor, Democrats thereby risk turning themselves into the perpetually bloviating opposition party with a whole lot of bark but a rather hollow inner core.
Trump; three strikes you’re out; do not pass Go; game over; Brooks 1, Democrats 0. Right?
Wrong. The fact is that in the last several years Republicans seem to have found a new amour: conveniently labeled or characterized legislation whose primary goal is to make Democrat opposition either otiose or counterproductive or both.
With environmental legislation it was the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 and the Clean Skies Initiative; the former actually gave a big handout to the logging industry and under the latter air pollution would actually become worse then under the already existing Clean Air Act.
Then Bush gave us the Medicare Modernization Act with the prescription drug benefit which was actually a big public subsidy to the health insurance industry without actually protecting the costs of prescription drugs. And as I mentioned yesterday, the American Jobs Creation Act was nothing more than a big tax break on foreign profit that didn’t even require companies to use that profit to create jobs.
It’s a very clever strategy, for what Senator or Representative wants to say that they oppose “Clean Skies” or “Job Creation”?
Apart from the snappy titles, Republicans have also mastered the art of characterizing legislation and what opposition to it means, and Bush’s Social Security proposal is just one in a string of such examples.
From now until the midterm elections, Republicans like Brooks will cry out that Democrats refuse to support poor working Americans by refusing to support progressive SS legislation. And this opposition supposedly makes them worse than "obstructionists," because it also makes them hypocrites.
But truth be told, Bush’s plan only counts as good progressive legislation if you think those who make $36,000 a year have it so well off that their retirement benefits should be slashed by 27%. It’s not progressive – its hanging hard working families out to dry.
Brooks and the other conservatives must know this, but they seem to find it more fun to back Democrats into a corner by making them choose between losing their next election vs. supporting bad legislation
I don’t particularly like this Washington game – its disingenuous and makes voters more distrustful of politicians in the end.
But I cannot help but wonder: What kinds of creative legislation titles could we come up with that would thoroughly shame Republicans into supporting them at the risk of losing votes? Any suggestions?
How about: The Keep Our Bedrooms Sacred Initiative. It could promise to protect the sanctity of marriages and families but actually institute privacy laws that keeps government out of our bedrooms and recognizes same sex couples and their children as legitimate families.
[X-posted at Freiheit und Wissen]