Wednesday, March 11, 2009

David Brooks Right, Then Wrong on Wayward Republicans

While columnist David Brooks understands the flailing nature of the Republican Party’s actions right now, he’s still a freeloading advocate of better marketing and no actionable solutions. While the first two paragraphs of his recent opinion, “Taking a Depression Seriously” hit all the right notes, his sage advice relies on the same old clich├ęs he criticizes the party for still using.

The Democratic response to the economic crisis has its problems, but let’s face it, the current Republican response is totally misguided. The House minority leader, John Boehner, has called for a federal spending freeze for the rest of the year. In other words, after a decade of profligacy, the Republicans have decided to demand a rigid fiscal straitjacket at the one moment in the past 70 years when it is completely inappropriate.

The G.O.P. leaders have adopted a posture that allows the Democrats to make all the proposals while all the Republicans can say is “no.” They’ve apparently decided that it’s easier to repeat the familiar talking points than actually think through a response to the extraordinary crisis at hand. If the Republicans wanted to do the country some good, they’d embrace an entirely different approach.

Democrats apparently think that dealing with the crisis is a part-time job, which leaves the afternoons free to work on long-range plans to reform education, health care, energy and a dozen smaller things. Democrats are counting on a quick recovery to help pay for these long-term projects.

What, plan ahead? Are they loco? Instead Brooks, like all Republicans, would rather put off today, what they can do tomorrow…maybe. The list of solutions Brooks offers below are concepts, not actions.

Republicans could point out that this crisis is not just an opportunity to do other things … it’s Nero-esque for Democrats to be plotting extensive renovations when the house is on fire … not going to try to make long-range plans based on assumptions that will be obsolete by summer … offer the public a realistic appraisal of the health of capitalism … reminded of its shortcomings … If the free market party doesn’t offer the public an honest appraisal of capitalism’s weaknesses, the public will never trust it to address them. Power will inevitably slide over to those who believe this crisis is a repudiation of global capitalism as a whole … supporting President Obama’s plan for global stimulus coordination, because right now most of the world is free-riding off our expenditures … should be the party of restoring fiscal balance — whatever it takes — not trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

Do I expect them to shift course in this manner? Not really.

Brooks has at least offered a blueprint for the Republicans to follow, no matter how short sighted it is and no matter how ideologically wrong it has proven to be.

The Republican response has been to demand the American worker except the "reality" of lower pay and benefits, live with the massive job losses by doing nothing to stimulate the economy, let the free market shake out and continue to blame the middle class for living beyond their means. On the last point, the Republican plan is to get credit up and running again so families can continue to borrow and live beyond their means, again.

Do they ever think through their policies of contradiction?

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