President Obama gave a forceful, direct speech last night, delivering a plan targeted at improving the job situation. He had his now-to-be-expected mix of conservative and centrist plans that would be difficult for any rational member of Congress (emphasis intended) to reject. Tax cuts for small businesses, special breaks for those who hire veterans or the long-term unemployed. He threw some hot peppers into the pot as well, again spiced to burn the mouths of both sides. He broached ever so delicately the possibility that the well-to-do might maybe consider thinking about paying taxes somewhere closer to the rates they did for the previous 4 or 5 decades, and he briefly mentioned the need to extend unemployment benefits. And to singe the left, he threw on the table the need to cut Medicare and Social Security. The bloated military budget went conspicuously unmentioned—the armed elephant in the room. And he did not make a case for why the poor and elderly need to share the pain equally with the wealthy. Still, a patriotic person would be persuaded that this is a plan that requires something from all of us in order to benefit all of us.
So will the Republicans behave as rational servants of the people? Will monkeys fly out of my butt and form a string quartet playing God Bless America? For a Republican perspective on the likelihood of this (rational Republican behavior, not butt monkeys), read this piece by a Republican Congressional staffer who just retired in digust. SERIOUSLY, YOU SHOULD READ THIS (“read this piece” is the hard to see link). This chap, Mike Lofgren, is more eloquent than your truly (gasp!) and gives a great perspective on the devolution of the Republican party. He includes this quote by a prominent Republican:
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)