Friday, July 30, 2010

Hardball and Countdown

First Hardball: I was reading this morning where Chris went sort of batshit crazy at Howard Dean over the Breitbart thing yesterday and I’m thinking, “Gee, I don’t remember that.” I recalled that he had some idiot from Politico on for that topic, and I was quite confused. Well, it turns out I didn’t see what they were talking about after all. I watch the 7:00pm show because it airs at 4:00pm in California, and I always thought it was just a rerun of the same show that airs at 5:00pm. Apparently it usually is, but not always.

It turns out that Joan Walsh and Howard Dean got into something of a screaming match in which they disagreed with Chris Matthews. Nothing terribly unusual so far but, amazingly, Matthews turns out to have been correct. The whole thing was so muddled though that they redid that segment with the Politico guy replacing Howard Dean and, to make it even more confusing, they omitted the specifics that caused the snit fit.

In the last segment Matthews is promoting a movie which wants to terrify us about the prospect of terrorists and nuclear weapons. (Yes, that wording was deliberate.) As is usual when people are spouting talking points, though, Valerie Plame manages to contradict herself and presents not one but several scenarios which she considers to be “most likely” to provide Osama bin Laden (who is probably dead) with a bomb. Early on she claims,

And, in fact, in the republics of the former Soviet Union, it is really very much a free-for-all. There‘s a great clip in the film where one of our experts talks about potatoes are guarded better than highly enriched uranium, which is, of course, a fissile material used in nuclear weapons.

She then goes on at great length about Iran’s “proven” determination to obtain a nuclear bomb and, just minutes later when Chris asks her which is the most dangerous prospect she replies,

I think Pakistan is very worrisome because it‘s such a volatile region. And we cannot have a lot of confidence in their command and control.

She simply cannot decide what presents the gravest threat. Fear, fear, fear.

Then on Countdown Lawrence O’Donnell wades in with a somewhat incoherent evaluation of the Bush tax cuts scenario.

Bush ran on tax cuts, saying that‘s what you do with a surplus. He still pushed tax cuts in the recession, saying, that‘s what you do with a deficit. But he lacked enough support to beat a filibuster. … So, Republicans used—right—reconciliation, which allows a simple majority vote. But it does not allow you to increase the deficit beyond 10 years. That‘s exactly what these cuts did and would do. And that‘s why, legally, they had to expire now. In other words, Republicans created this coming tax hike of historic proportions. And, now, they want to stop it by increasing the deficit to historic proportions.

But what is the fair way to label the expiration of tax cuts? Voted into law by Republicans, the Republicans wrote the expiration date into law but a Democratic Congress plans to take no action to extend those tax cuts on the richer taxpayers. So, whose tax increase is that? Is that a Republican tax increase or is that a Democratic tax increase?

Oh, come on. Republicans did not cheerfully put an expiration date on the tax cuts. The cuts were blocked by Democratic filibuster and the Republicans resorted to reconciliation, so the expiration was the result Democratic interference with the tax cuts’ passage. Now O’Donnell comes up with this demagoguery to say somehow that “it was the Republican’s idea for tax cuts to end and now they’re blaming the Democrats.” Give it a rest, Lawrence, the expiration was not of the Republicans’ choice.

He then introduces Ezra Klein who recognized that O’Donnell has just shoveled a huge load of poop onto the floor and expects him to dance in it, so he tries to throw himself a plank to walk on and keep his shoes clean,

And there are two reasons for that. One is what you said. You can‘t increase the deficit outside of 10 years using reconciliation. But the other is it made the long-term budget look better. If you would have eternal tax cuts going on, essentially, Republicans would have increased the deficit by many, many, many trillions of dollars. But as long as it expired after 10 years, when CBO does its calculation, CBO has to say, well, these are gone after 10 years so they‘re not that big.

Ezra, don’t pee in my ear and tell me it’s raining. Republican or Democrat, no budget has ever gone beyond ten years, no politician has ever cared what the next decade looks like, and the CBO never scores anything beyond ten years under any circumstances.

All of that being said, the rhetoric around whether or not the Bush tax cuts should be renewed, thereby becoming the Obama tax cuts even though they will still be called the Bush tax cuts, has been asinine to say the least.

Democrats want to “renew the tax cuts for the middle class but not for the rich,” adding to the tax cuts they have already extended to the middle class, making them the party of tax cuts along with the Republicans.

Republicans want to “renew the tax cuts to invigorate the economy” which is even more idiotic than the Democratic argument because the economy went in the crapper while the tax cuts were in place, so how are the tax cuts going to reinvigorate it?

It used to be we have one party that was for tax cuts and against spending, and the other that was “tax and spend,” but now they are both competing to see who can propose the most tax cuts and spend the most. They are mostly demonstrating that they are equally idiotic.

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