Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It

Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight.

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It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

The next fight is likely to involve the $200 billion worth of stimulus that Obama included in his recycled fiscal cliff plan that somehow didn’t exist before Election Day. I’ve taken a rather keen interest in the topic of stimulus, so I’ll be interested to see how this is covered. Keynesian stimulus used to be uncontroversial in Washington; every 2008 presidential candidate had a stimulus plan, and Mitt Romney’s was the largest. But in early 2009, when Obama began pushing his $787 billion stimulus plan, the GOP began describing stimulus as an assault on free enterprise—even though House Republicans  (including Paul Ryan) voted for a $715 billion stimulus alternative that was virtually indistinguishable from Obama’s socialist version. The current Republican position seems to be that the fiscal cliff’s instant austerity would destroy the economy, which is odd after four years of Republican clamoring for austerity, and that the cliff’s military spending cuts in particular would kill jobs, which is even odder after four years of Republican insistence that government spending can’t create jobs.

I guess it’s finally true that we all are Keynesians now. Republicans don’t even seem to be arguing that more stimulus wouldn’t boost the economy; they’ve suggested that Obama needs to give up “goodies” like extending unemployment insurance (which benefits laid-off workers) and payroll tax cuts (which benefit everyone) to show that he’s negotiating in good faith. At the same time, though, they also want Obama to propose bigger Medicare cuts, even though they spent the last campaign slamming Obama’s Medicare cuts and denying their interest in Medicare cuts. I live in Florida, so I had the pleasure of hearing a radio ad from Allen West, hero of the Tea Party, vowing to protect Medicare.

Whatever. I realize that the GOP’s up-is-downism puts news reporters in an awkward position. It would seem tendentious to point out Republican hypocrisy on deficits and Medicare and stimulus every time it comes up, because these days it comes up almost every time a Republican leader opens his mouth. But we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.

400 comments
mataharikrishna
mataharikrishna

@ImNotScotWalker @tjholmes Bernie set him straight on that. Loved it! :)

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

End this Madness! RECALL the Obstructionist Republican BUMS OUT OF OFFICE, NOW!

ajain31
ajain31

President Barack Obama won the elections in 2008 and 2012 based on his campaign to raise taxes on people making above $200,000.00 of family above $250,000.00. The people have spoken in great numbers to validate President Obama's proposition which exempts raising taxes on the first $250,000.00 income of EVERYBODY on taxes.Representative Paul Ryan and his budgetary ideas were soundly rejected by the 2012 electorate and the Republican House of Representatives must heed to the voice of the nation. Otherwise Republicans are destined to loose the Presidency every four years till Texas turns blue and then the Presidency will be out of the reach of the Republicans for a very long time to come!If the Republicans want to wash their hands off the "Makers & Takers" philosophy of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan then the Fiscal Cliff is their chance to support not cutting into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and keep the masses in the nation from going permanently in the Democratic camp.If Republicans want to defeat the 47% philosophy of Mitt Romney forever and join the nation in the quest to support the middle class thus ending the class warfare which Republicans are loosing, 2012 election being their latest proof Republicans should come to their senses and give up their support of Paul Ryan's agenda of cutting into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Representative Paul Ryan's budgetary philosophy has met its fate at the polls this November and Republicans must start anew supporting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid rather than cutting them.If House Republicans do not support and pass the Senate bill supporting cutting taxes on the 98% people and 97% small businesses instead let the nation fall off the Fiscal Cliff for the sake of saving the top 2% tax breaks then the nation will punish the House Republicans in 2014 and they will loose the only branch of Congress they now hold.Republicans ought to learn from the adage that "A bird in hand is better than two in the bush". A Republican House is better than dreaming a defeated Obama or a red Senate in the near future. Remember President Obama now in 2013 is only five short in Senate votes to thwarting a Republican filibuster.So let the 2012 election results be a forewarning to any Republican scheme to cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the bone and then expecting to win the ONLY voters thay are left with i.e. the White elderly voters!From hereon let it be a lesson to all aspiring Republican Presidential candidates that the Demographic clock is ticking and it does not favor the Republicans if Texas turns blue!! There are only so many election cycles before Texas turns blue unless Republicans change their ways and tax the 2% rich at Clinton rates and avoid cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!!Take this from a life long Democrat who voted twice for Ronald Reagan and was not a very proud Reagan Democrat but still loved Reagan. I have been a proud Texan since 1990 and can vouch that Texas is on its way to becoming a blue state unless Republicans discover another Reagan among themselves which is difficult in the Ted Cruz and TEA Party era!!

kboivi07
kboivi07

@gigitalk @hardball I do blame the media for not getting it right and for siding with personalities instead of principles. Report it please

kboivi07
kboivi07

@gigitalk @hardball The News is so non news and is so produced. Who cares about truth, justice helping the poor. Advertisers coal and E. D.?

kboivi07
kboivi07

@gigitalk @hardball It is too bad that mainstream media is also caught in ratings war and everyone just collecting a paycheck or push books

TJ_Lynn
TJ_Lynn

@MikeGrunwald @jonathanchait can either of you point to a pre election piece where you said that Obama cut Medicare?

jonathanchait
jonathanchait

@MikeGrunwald Right, but the Medicare cuts in Obamacare passed without GOP support. Different than blaming Ds for cuts supported by both.

cd_hooks
cd_hooks

@MikeGrunwald @jonathanchait that's a different situation, though. D medicare 'cuts' were part of policy package R's loathed

EdHull8
EdHull8

@LipstickLibShow For the US military is was to be sure

stevetanton
stevetanton

After reading just a short amount of this article, I am left with no other conclusion than that this author is in general either an idiot,  simply uninformed, stupid, just plain ignorant, a liberal ideologue, or all of the aforementioned.  Then I looked up his bio.  He is a graduate of Harvard.  Need I say more?

takrew
takrew

Are you people annoyed yet? Our elected officials won't work togetherto do something for the American people.... and the people won't worktogether either! We have numbskulls betraying the country and hangingupside down flags and hiding behind the First Amendment (search "BoycottFlag Desecraters" for pics and details).... meanwhile the cliffapproaches.... and there are more people worried about the Mayanprediction than the fate of our nation....One thing for sure: if we don't start working together as a UNITEDcountry, we are doomed....going down a drain.... the time is NOW and itstarts with the elected officials..... if they continue to work againsteach other in the name of political party, make a note of the names....we hired em--- we can fire em.... and our time will be the upcomingelections....

Rilgon
Rilgon

The author is aware of the fact that these "journalists" are employed by media conglomerations owned by the mega-rich that BENEFIT from the brainwashing of the poor and middle class that comes from this, right? There isn't any "pretending" - the owners and operators of these media giants want this to happen, and in a situation where a "journalist" is told to choose between their morals and a paycheck, 99.9% of them are going to choose the paycheck.

The other .1% work for Al-Jazeera.

templark595
templark595

The author of this article is correct, unfortunately the media is a lot of the problem in how they hand out the news.  Most reporters either try not to sound biased or have their own ideas about what the story actually is and make the facts fit the story they wish to promote.  There is several simple items we can do to avoid the fiscal cliff.  First, cut federal and state pensions for politicians.  GET OUR TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN!!  Stop funding abortions that are not from rape and if women say it is rape they should be required to talk to the police about finding the culprit (I understand that its a women's choice, however there is plenty of free contraception available, so I shouldn't be paying for people that don't want to use what's out there.)  Make a it a law that if you are not a citizen of this country and you have a baby born here it does not mean that they are a citizen (If an American family visiting Canada has a baby born there it has no bearing on anything because more often than not the parents go back to the United States.)  This should be especially true for illegal immigrants because you are ILLEGAL.  I agree with immigration reform but we can't keep paying for those people whose own country can't take care of.  Stop funding other countries that try to attack us!!  Doing these items should increase the amount of money coming in by a least a few trillion a year.

WMarley1
WMarley1

@LipstickLibShow #RMoney's stimulus took th most away from th working class&gave it2 #Plutocrats. GOP needs 2 B stepped on #TaxThePlutocrats

myself
myself

I feel confident saying that I speak for other conservatives in this respect:  We don't trust the government to limit its tax increases to the rich.  Once the rich are being taxed out of business, the Democrats will be shell-shocked that doing so didn't balance the budget in the long-term, and will (after some attempted manipulation of the situation that, while well-meaning, doesn't build anything more than a house of cards) begin to raise taxes on the upper-middle class, then on the middle class, then...well, the country will be run on socialist principles (i.e. that everyone deserves an equal share of everything, that the government can make that happen without ruining the economy in the long run, and that in reality there's no such thing as "my stuff" and "your stuff"--if we get desperate enough, we can think of ourselves as having a "right" to others' property).

myself
myself

When government spending gets so out of hand that they actually feel the need for anywhere near half of the dollars that are earned in the USA, or so that even if they sold all the gold in Fort Knox, it would only finance the government for a maximum of two weeks, the Democrats' tax-the-rich scheme looks woefully inadequate, since there simply aren't enough rich people to fix this, and even if there were, you couldn't permanently raise the government's revenue by raising taxes on them, since every dollar you tax them out of is a dollar they don't invest, and that means they wouldn't be paying taxes on as much investment income.Oh. and the claim that President Bush bequeathed a trillion dollar deficit to Obama (Paragraph 3 of the article) is blatantly false--the federal deficit was about a half-trillion when Obama took office, and did not pass the trillion-dollar mark until after that (the deficit has tripled since Obama took office, largely as a result of the first two years in which the Democrats had control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government).

Wary12
Wary12

@jenekool @TIMEPolitics I heard Sen Corker REBUKE Sen Claire McCaskill's reminder about Defense cuts he demanded CUTS THAT HURT #Gop agenda

SaneVoice
SaneVoice

Do you know who created majority of the $16T deficit? Ans: REPUBLICANS!!!

Do you know who put a budget and executed for balanced and surplus budget? -Ans DEMOCRATS

Who converted surplus to deficit? Ans REPUBLICANS

Bingo!!!I would be thinking twice before believing Republicans.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

We know what the Republicans mean by "fair:" coddle the millionaires/billionaires at the EXPENSE of the MIDDLE/WORKING CLASS. NO THANK YOU, BONEHEAD & CO.!

THROW THE BUMS OUT IN THE NEXT MIDTERM ELECTIONS.

VOTE THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET FOR A BETTER FUTURE! USA1

ImNotScotWalker
ImNotScotWalker

@mataharikrishna •Yeah it was, but whenever I hear someone run that "both sides" noize I tend to take them less seriously.

MikeGrunwald
MikeGrunwald

.@jonathanchait Did R support for deal that created fiscal cliff stop R's from blaming BO for its military spending cuts?

MikeGrunwald
MikeGrunwald

.@jonathanchait The lesson of last 4 years (documented by you) is that R's will blame BO for anything. They blamed BO for cuts in Ryan plan!

SunnyChi
SunnyChi

@jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald Paul Ryan's budget had same amount of cuts yet he and Romney, in Clinton's words, had the brass to accuse Obama

flabbergasted
flabbergasted

@stevetanton Amazing, you attack the author for being a graduate of Harvard, without mentioning any of his points. Seems like you'd rather attack the messenger instead of the message.

OzarkGranny
OzarkGranny

@stevetanton Like Mitt Romney is a graduate of Harvard?  Are we talking the same Harvard or is there more than one?

edkowalczyk
edkowalczyk

@templark595 Your assessment is overly simplistic and inaccurate. Our government currently provides NO money for abortion from taxpayers. Also, taxpayers are not being asked to pay for abortion in the future. Know the issues!

Stop whining about something that isn't true

marshka
marshka

How are you taxed out of business, you don't pay tax on losses? You don't trust the government to limit taxes on the rich? So you trusted the government to lower taxes on the rich but you think the government will raise taxes on the middle to poor class? And no one said raising tax's will kill the debt but mathematics has proven that unless you take in more than you spend you will never kill the debt and the last time I checked the govt gets money from taxes. So the plan was raise tax on 250k and above and decrease spending over time. I am always confused when people have this mind boggling issue with why the rich shouldn't be taxed more? I would even say tax us at the same rate if you are so concerned but to make 50k and be taxed higher than someone making 500k and then valiantly support that ineqauality seems like the slave begging to save the master. You are rooting for your own inequality.

edkowalczyk
edkowalczyk

@myself "and the claim that President Bush bequeathed a trillion dollar deficit to Obama (Paragraph 3 of the article) is blatantly false"....It's the Bush tax cuts, two wars and a weak economy that have caused the deficits, not the current President.

Saying things over and over doesn't make them true, and also does nothing to solve our problems.

marshka
marshka

You do realize that the budget tripled under President Obama because they finally put the Iraq and Afghan wars in the budget, prior to that it was not included and we racked up debt off the books.

TheodoreRex
TheodoreRex

Agree. 

Tax the rich to get 8 days of revenue to run the government

Incresase spending with no deficit reduction creating monetary crisis on par with Greece.

Have congress agree to hand over control of the debt limit to one single person, who could run it up to 60 trillion instead of 16 trillion if they like.  The president (democrat or republican).

mataharikrishna
mataharikrishna

@ImNotScotWalker Agreed. Old habits are hard to break? ;)

jonathanchait
jonathanchait

.@MikeGrunwald Your argument is that actual policy is irrelevant to who Rs blame. Therefore it shouldn't be a factor.

jonathanchait
jonathanchait

.@MikeGrunwald If Rs will blame Obama for cuts that aren't enacted, that means they'll blame him whether or not they're enacted.

root_e
root_e

@MikeGrunwald @jonathanchait Ha ha ha, Chait thinks GOP constrained by facts & fairness. Just arrived on our planet?

jkroger1
jkroger1

@SunnyChi @jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald -- Ryan's budget -- which passed in the GOP House! -- had those same cuts.

stevetanton
stevetanton

@flabbergasted @stevetanton Not really amazing at all, you "seem" wrong.  (Are you "flabbegasted" often?)  If you debate liberals too long and in too much detail, pretty soon you can't tell who's the stupid one.  "Harvard" in this case is used as a substitution or metaphor for East Coast, Ivy League, "elitist" thinking, which obviously is usually liberal (not classical liberalism) and usually wrong.  There is a reason why with all of his aristocratic education, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. got it totally wrong on Russia, while Reagan with his college "C" average from lowly Eureka College in the Heartland, got it all right on Russia.  The premise and the message is warped as it usually is with these fellows.  And this is not a debate - not a good forum; this is merely making a few points.

stevetanton
stevetanton

@OzarkGranny @stevetanton :  first of all I am implying "in general", but Romney is an exception much as is Prof. Harvey Mansfield an exception to the mushball libbie profs one gets most of the time.  And Romeny of course did not pursue his undergraduate degree at Harvard, where he is apt to meet perhaps more leftist professors in general studies, but pursued graduate degrees in law an business while Harvard.  Hope this helps.  (It is a fact that Harvard has a problem with legacies who are not that bright and it is very well-known of the liberal bias in most professorships at Harvard, the irony being that it was founded as a Christian college.  And I've always loved the fact that it is the school were the famous cheat, Teddy Kennedy survived his indiscretions because of access to money and power.  Nothing much as changed.)

templark595
templark595

@edkowalczyk @templark595  the government subsidizes abortion by providing healthcare to people who do not work such as medicaid or can not afford it because they lack insurance.  Whether we like to admit it or not the government is providing money for this.  I do know the issues and the biggest one is paying for inefficient bureaucracy.  So yes, I guess my solutions are overly simplistic, but we have been trying the overly complex and it hasn't worked.  Mostly because the people in office do not want to fix the problem. 

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@marshka You're ignorant of the process. The money spent on Iraq and Afghanistan still factored into the deficit. That money didn't simply vanish in thin air. The spending for the wars was done through continuing resolutions. Note that since Pinky Reid and the Senate Democrats have failed to pass a budget for more than three years now, spending has been done through continuing resolutions. That spending has contributed to the Dems' trillion-dollar deficits.

theonlyadult
theonlyadult

@jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald What about the fact that it's a terrible policy that will kill people, in exchange 4 tiny tax hike on the rich?

nitrate21
nitrate21

@jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald Sounds exactly like what everyone's been saying to you, Jon. #preemptivesurrender

jonathanchait
jonathanchait

Agreed MT @MikeGrunwald Mostly true! But for media purposes would be useful to force R's to demand unpopular concessions before making them.

MikeGrunwald
MikeGrunwald

@jonathanchait Mostly true! But for media purposes it would be useful to force R's to demand unpopular concessions before making them.

costrike
costrike

@jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald *touches nose*

scottkier
scottkier

@jonathanchait @MikeGrunwald He's not running for a 3rd term. Who cares what they blame him for? That's the essence of Obama's leverage now.

stevetanton
stevetanton

@flabbergasted:  I understand, and yes, this often happens, but after reading this: "the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party", this author deserves no respect. He understands NOT, the Republican Party nor its history - it's just the "same old, same old" lies about Republicans - he might as well have said the old line, "Republicans want to kill old people and starve children."   I choose not to get into it too deeply with people this stupid, because after all, I am flabbergasted that liberals say this stuff. It's dishonest, insulting and just too stupid to waste my time with anything more than a quick, witty or sarcastic comment and move on. Perhaps you're reachable?

“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help.” – Thomas Sowell

p.s.  Perhaps you've noticed that socialism hasn't been working too well since 1933, especially since the introduction of "The Great Society".  Perhaps you took note that Democrats (see:  America's Ruling Class, Angelo Codevilla) have controlled Congress roughly 75% of the time since 1933 and that budgets aren't Presidential at all, but are the gift of Congress (see: The Constitution).  Just why do you think the U.S. is in such a mess?  Many years of irresponsible fiscal behavior by both parties (but led by the Democrats, obviously) and an ever increasing deterioration of the values and virtues of our Founding Fathers so evident in the attacks on Christianity (the foundation of our nation), the American family by the left (Democrat Party), Hollywood and the mainstream news media have brought us to the edge.  It's time to turn the tide and return to the tried and true values which made our nation great.  As Milton Friedman so noted, "capitalism, the free market system, despite its faults, is the only system ever devised by mankind to allow the common man to rise up."  The Democrat Party has embraced all the failings of socialism and Keynesian Economics (which has never worked in the macro) to lead us to our nearly own Weimar Republic.  Enough already, Enough!

flabbergasted
flabbergasted

@stevetanton @flabbergasted I'm "flabbergasted" from reading these forums. All too often people assume that they are right and talk down to others. For examples, some people refuse to provide any real points, because they know that if they offer any, then they won't be able to call the other person stupid. (perhaps you can't tell who the stupid one is, because fighting someone who isn't a straw man can show that the other side has valid ideas too!)  Instead, they'd rather make generalizations about higher education, and about the author of an article, than  engage in serious debate. 


So yes, this does make me "flabbergasted" often.