Three ways the economy has fouled up society

The economy is terrible. It’s fouled things up in the usual ways — job losses, market losses, smaller retirement and fund accounts … But there’s three ways the terrible economy is causing other types of dysfunction: The first is that it’s moving the Republican Party into a more extremist “no taxes, but never” policy.

At the presidential debate in Iowa last week, the Republican candidates pledged to not accept a deal even if it was a ratio of 1 part tax increase for 10 parts spending decreases. Now, I understand that most Republicans on that stage don’t believe Democrats would agree to any such cuts, but refusing such a deal, even in the hypothetical, underscores how fearful the candidates are of offending activists who associate a 3 percent tax increase for millionaires with hordes of invading communists at the Texas border. But let’s get real. Any responsible Republican should vocally agree with a 10 to 1 cuts to tax deal.

Second, the economy is badly damaging the re-election hopes of President Barack Obama. What that means is that he can’t run on his record. So, prepare for the White House and the president, the man who was supposed to elevate public debate, to wage the ugliest presidential campaign of mud ever. We got a taste of this last week with the trial balloon the White House launched that Mitt Romney was a little (guess it must be his Mormonism) “weird.”

Third, the economy is leading to public discontent that has become violent. The British riots of last week may be as much the result of a criminal underclass, but the riots in Greece and so-called flash mobs here are economically based. One side sees the end of a secure cradle-to-grave life that was earned through work. The other sees a life of secure employment in the U.S. that others enjoyed not happening for them. The unemployment numbers of 9-plus percent are really understated. Many Americans are not counted because they have given up looking and among blacks and Hispanics, as well as teens and young adults, the numbers are higher. Unless we find a way to get jobs started — either through private sector or public sector — we risk both types of violence (Greece and the UK) coming to the U.S.

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5 Responses to Three ways the economy has fouled up society

  1. Steve says:

    “to wage the ugliest presidential campaign of mud ever.”

    Watch the hyperbole, Doug. Obama has a long long way to go before he begins to reach the level of mudslinging that happened in the 1800s. Dirty as the campaign may or may not end up being (and the implication that the republicans will, of course, keep their side of it pure as white paint is just silly), “ever” is the kind of word used by the extremists you’re talking about in your first paragraph.

    Other than that one slip, though, I think you’ve nailed it pretty well here.

    • Bob Becker says:

      I wouldn’t limit Doug’s overstatement to a comparison with 19th century politics. Let us recall Bush partisans circulating the rumor in South Carolina that John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock in advance of the primary there. Kind of significantly lowered the bar on campaign sleeze, didn’t it?

      If Obama’s campaign gets down and dirty enough to meet that sorry standard, I’ll be surprised. Doug’s example is pretty tepid by comparison, and I’m afeared Doug may be hunting slights to Mormons in general campaign rhetoric. Let us recall the First George Bush’s condemning Supply Side Reaganomics as “voodoo economics.” I suppose that could be taken as a swipe at Nancy Reagan’s preference for calling in astrologers to assist in key decisions, but it’d be a stretch.

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. So to speak.

    • ctrentelman says:

      I think there’s plenty in the Obama record to run on. The economy is not a strong place for the GOP to claim Obama failed since they cannot cite very many instances — is there one? — where they went along with his job programs and let them succeed or fail. Instead, they blocked him in congress and kept bills from passing, then derided him for his failure to get stuff out of Congress.

      But, really, Obama has to run, he’s got his own base to keep happy. If the GOP, or anyone, is going to yell at him for getting dirty, so to speak, they need to ponder how deep the mud is where they are standing as well. So far the GOP commentariat that I’ve seen considers Obama’s reasonablness to be weakness anyway.

  2. Doug Gibson says:

    You are right, Steve, that politics was rougher back then, so I’ll have to revise my statement to the more recent era. The problem for the president is that he’ll have a tough time touting accomplishments to a skeptical public. As for attacking, Bachmann and Perry would be easier prey than Romney, although Romney doesn’t fire up a base.

  3. Midwinter says:

    First, I don’t think the weird thing was a Mormon knock, really. It’s just that Romney is sometimes really awkward (the butt grabbing joke, the dog crap on the roof of the car thing…he’s like the GOP version of John Kerry).

    Second, one of the things that drives me nuts about Obama is that from 2008-2010, he was one of the most legislatively successful presidents since FDR. But they never talk about their legislative achievements. I expect the campaign will very quickly roll out that narrative.

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