That's no fantasy. That's the picture emerging as Republicans are about to take over a single legislative chamber even as they are making fools of themselves in ways that should damage them in the next round of elections.
Over there on the right we have the ridiculous spectacle of Senators McConnell and Thune trying to explain away the millions of dollars in earmarks they continue to add to legislation in spite of all pledges. Over here on the left we have the bathos of Democrats ceding power in one-third of the power structure for two years.
Nothing is perfect, but the just-passed tax-cut bill contains a genuine win for our side whether many on the left recognize it or not. The vote pumps the other half of the stimulus into the economy -- finally! Not only is that good for jobs and consumer spending, it's good for the left's immediate political future.
The White House and Republicans hailed the deal as a rare bipartisan achievement and a prototype for future hard-bargained compromises in the new era of divided government.
But the accord also showed that policy-makers remain locked in an unsustainable cycle of cutting taxes and raising spending that has proven politically palatable in the short term but could threaten the nation’s fiscal stability in years ahead.
Some Republican critics of the deal had said the Bush-era rates should be extended permanently, complaining that to do otherwise would create economic uncertainty. But some analysts said that such certainty was an illusion, given the longer-term problem with the deficit.
“Republicans are talking a lot about certainty,” said Matthew Mitchell, a research fellow and tax policy expert at George Mason University. “But even if they had won some sort of a victory where they got the current tax rates written in stone, spending is on such an unsustainable path in terms of entitlements, it really isn’t certain at all.”...NYT
By 2012, we may find ourselves in a more stable economic environment, albeit with a deficit to deal with. But dealing with the deficit in a healthier economy makes a lot more sense than trying to do it with unemployment nearly in double digits.
On the down side is genuine uncertainty -- and not just about the ballooning debt. Paul Krugman points an angry finger at the "collapsing crisis commission." The Republicans on the commission are torpedoing the effort because they don't like to face the truth about the causes of the financial crisis: housing bubble > deregulation and irresponsible lending.
Then the bubble burst, with hugely disruptive consequences. It turned out that Wall Street had created a web of interconnection nobody understood, so that the failure of Lehman Brothers, a medium-size investment bank, could threaten to take down the whole world financial system.
It’s a straightforward story, but a story that the Republican members of the commission don’t want told. Literally.
Last week, reports Shahien Nasiripour of The Huffington Post, all four Republicans on the commission voted to exclude the following terms from the report: “deregulation,” “shadow banking,” “interconnection,” and, yes, “Wall Street.”
When Democratic members refused to go along with this insistence that the story of Hamlet be told without the prince, the Republicans went ahead and issued their own report, which did, indeed, avoid using any of the banned terms.
In case you think Krugman is exaggerating, look at what the Republicans themselves are saying in public.
Last week, Spencer Bachus, the incoming G.O.P. chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told The Birmingham News that “in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”
Can't you see that soundbite turning up regularly in 2012?