Return of the Shrill

by Brien Jackson

Clive Crook wants to be serious:

I do try to be reasonable, which I know can be infuriating, but as it happens I don’t think that “being reasonable means declaring, in all circumstances, that Democrats and Republicans are equally in the wrong”. Each side is usually somewhat wrong, I find, but the proportions do vary according to topic. I am very much in the Democratic camp on the stimulus, for instance. I think it is unreasonable, on the other hand, to regard everything Republicans say as definitionally wicked or stupid or both, which is the organising principle of everything Paul [Krugman] writes in the NYT.

I don’t know if that’s really the underlying assumption to everything Krugman writes, but Krugman’s point in the larger discussion going on, that you simply can’t “seriously engage” with Republicans on the stimulus because there’s nothing to engage with, is pretty sound. Forget, for a second, the “economic theory” of modern Republicanism. Forget grave intonements about spending, and deficits (all of a sudden) and the preferability of tax cuts, and their hand-wring over “Europe,” and just consider the following.

Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee. He was also the chief agitator for including a $70  billion AMT patch in the stimulus bill. Many, many people pointed out that this was both wasteful and pointless; on the one hand it would mostly be targeted at upper-middle class earners who hadn’t lost their jobs, meaning there would be little stimulative effect, but that also, rightly or wrongly, Congress would no doubt have done it anyway at some point, so there was no reason to put it in this bill. Nevertheless, Grassley got what he wanted, and school construction, aid to states, and so on were cut in favor of Grassley’s AMT patch.

Now, after being placated to the tune of 9% of the entire bill, what did Chuck Grassley do? He voted against the final bill of course. Along with all but 3 Republicans in the entire Congress.

Put the economics aside for a second, and ask yourself what, exactly, there is to “engage” in such blatantly craven political positioning?

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