Please write and send praise, critique, interesting links or random musings to

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How They Think

April 15th 2011

Meet Douglas Holtz-Eakin. If you are unfamiliar with his work, he was formerly the head of President George W. Bush's budget office. He also served as a key economic advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign. Although he is a backer of Paul Ryan's Path To Poverty, he recently and very openly acknowledged its flights of fiscal fancy.

But make no mistake, he is the kind of guy who puts the "arch" into "arch-conservative."

Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was faced with a very serious problem while trying to pass his cruel and vindictive spending bill. Many Republican house members were in revolt. They felt they had been duped. It seemed that the bill was not sticking it to the poor and vulnerable nearly as much as they had been promised. It was time bring in Doug.

From TPM:

"The GOP defections came after news reports revealed that the legislation will only cut $350 million in immediate spending -- not the $38 billion that had been advertised. Indeed, the defections may have been worse if Republican leaders hadn't enlisted the help of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of George W. Bush's budget office, to explain the massive discrepancy to skeptical members Thursday morning. Holtz-Eakin ran through his presentation again Thursday afternoon on a conference call with bloggers.

He asked the conservative advocates on the line to engage in a thought experiment. If the Department of Education's only responsibilities were paying employees and buying books, its annual budget might not reflect both expenditures because books take time to process and deliver -- and might not be paid for until the next fiscal year. A spending cut deal like this one, he argued, prevents the Department of Education from buying more books -- and thus the savings don't materialize right away." EMPHASIS OURS

See? Just be patient, he was arguing. It might not be that great now, but it'll keep 'em from buying nasty, wasteful things next year! Nasty, wasteful things like books.

"It's activities like that, that span fiscal years, that make it hard to get the full impact in one year," he said. "I'm perfectly willing to speculate that there are some who would be happy to take advantage of that confusion."

This is exemplary of Neoconomist thought. It actually makes sense to men like Holtz-Eakin to promote fiscal policy by framing books for our nation's children as waste. It does not occur to such men that this might be construable as as unseemly. Or immoral. And it is just such men who are essential for the current Republican leadership to sell their wares to their own outliers in a pinch.

The next time you hear a contemporary, elected Republican speak about "the children" or "the future" or intone about "compassion," I beg of you to remember Mr. Holtz-Eakin's contribution to the budget battles of 2011. 

20 years ago, a pronouncement by a celebrated member of either party in America that was this extreme would have led every news cycle. In our current climate, however, it doesn't appear that very many people have noticed it at all.

But it is how they think.

No comments:

Post a Comment