Monday, March 2, 2009

The "Principled" GOP Opposition To Obama's Efforts To Save The Economy

Cable news pundits and big-name newspaper columnists are pushing a general consensus that Republicans are simply returning to their "core conservative principles" in their near-unanimous opposition to President Barack Obama.

Main stream pundits and columnists accept Republicans' claim that they are motivated by "principled ideological consistency" in opposing Obama’s “big government” solutions to America’s economic troubles, not by a political strategy to derail Obama’s presidency and legislative agenda into failure.

Republicans argue that they have worked hard for 30 years to "free capitalism and individual liberty" by deregulating the financial system, deregulating and dismantling government safety oversight of the nation's food production and distribution system, and cutting taxes for big corporate business and they don't want to see all that hard work undone by President Obama's "big government" programs.

Conservative Republicans claim they are ideologically opposed to Obama's programs because they will "return" America to “big government” socialism eliminated by the Reagan and the reinforcing Gingrich, Delay and Bush conservative government revolutions. In making this claim they seek to ignore that the conservative path to liberate "capitalism and individual liberty" has brought the nation in near economic collapse.

This is what Rush Limbaugh was saying in his CPAC speech as he defended his remarks about wanting Obama to fail. Limbaugh said, "Conservatism is what it is forever ... This notion that I want the president to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we've got. What is so strange about being honest and saying, I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?"

Rush Limbaugh is saying the same thing as every other conservative Republican, only with a little less "principled" ideological window dressing. If Obama and Congressional Democrats successfully promote economic recovery by reversing Republican "small government" momentum, it will prove wrong, for a second time in 80 years, the conservative "small government" argument that government can not and must not play any roll to protect the interests of the American people or ensure a honest fair and level playing field for American business and finance. Why would Republicans want that to succeed? It would render the very foundation of the conservative movement as quicksand sinking many Republican candidates standing for election.

Limbaugh is accurately stating the strongly held conservative Republican belief that their definition of "capitalism and individual liberty" would be destroyed if President Obama succeeds in restoring government oversight to the financial and banking system to guard against future home mortgage and other banking system malfeasance, made possible by Republican deregulation and lack of regulatory oversight by the Bush Administration.
That "capitalism and individual liberty would be destroyed" if Obama restores some government oversight to the nation's food production and distribution system to guard against companies knowingly distributing salmonella contaminated food products, such as the Peanut Corporation of America did in distributing its salmonella contaminated peanut butter for years, causing critical illness in thousands and the deaths of hundreds of adults and children.

That "capitalism and individual liberty would be destroyed" if Obama restores some taxes on those earning more than $250,000/yr to begin to pay off the massive debt run up by the combination of fiscally unbalanced Republican tax cuts and irresponsible deficit spending by President Bush and Republican controlled congresses.
In accepting the argument that Republicans are simply returning to conservative principles to oppose President Obama, pundits and columnists benignly accept the underlying GOP message. The message that the GOP, like the U.S. economy, is in crisis not because conservative ideological applied to operational governance leads to massive government failures, rather the GOP and U.S. economy are in crisis because Republicans were not conservative enough in their governance; that "capitalism and individual liberties" were not freed enough because George Bush and his Republican dominated congresses didn't cut taxes enough and didn't deregulate and turn away from regulatory oversight enough.

Pundits and columnists have so far failed to observe that if tax cuts, deregulation and small government are the best stimulus for the economy, as conservatives claim, then the economy should already be racing, given the massive deregulation and trillions of dollars in tax cuts President Bush and Republicans have given the nation over the past eight years. Pundits are not asking conservatives to explain this disconnect. . .

Pundits and columnists, so far, have failed to press conservatives, who continue to advocate deregulation and tax cuts as they oppose Obama's economic agenda, to explain why the economy is in crisis after years of massive Republican deregulation, tax cutting and deficit spending. No, instead, media pundits, like Judy Woodruff, are using anti-Obama Republican "socialist tax and spend" talking points to press Democrats to defend Obama's efforts to save the American economy.

Despite the “conventional wisdom” offer by main stream pundits and columnists that Republicans are "simply" returning to their "core conservative principles," there is a growing sense across the United States that the real reason Republicans are trying to obstruct Obama is not a "principled conservative ideological consistency," but political opportunism; that Republicans want the President to fail so GOP candidates can succeed at the polls in 2010 and 2012.

One of the most telling indications that Republicans are persuading only their base, and main stream pundits and columnists, of their "principled" stand is a recent NYT/CBS News poll asking, “Do you think [Republicans] oppose [Obama's economic recovery plan] mostly because they thought it would be bad for the economy or mostly for political reasons?”

Sixty-three percent of respondents cited “political reasons” and only 29 percent believed the principled conservative stance that Obama's economic recovery plan is “not good for the economy.” This two-to-one margin suggests that the Republicans are suffering from a serious credibility gap. Too bad for America that they are not suffering from a serious credibility gap with Cable news pundits and big-name newspaper columnists, including the Dallas Morning News Newspaper.

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