Posted by: JanF | September 11, 2011

This Week’s News and Views – September 10, 2011

This Week’s News and Views looks at news stories from the past week with added commentary and perspective.

Last week Congress returned to Washington D.C., the Republican presidential candidates had a debate and the president made a speech about jobs and the economy. New England was still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and the high winds created by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) spinning in circles trying to undo her statement about withholding hurricane disaster relief since people should budget for disasters just like they budget for a family vacation. Exactly: if you cannot afford a hurricane then stay home. Or something. Excellent advice, one-term Rep. Hayworth!

The rest of the news included more swirling air.

Back to “work” for Congress

A lot was written about Republican Town Halls this summer: pay-per-view politics and turning tables on the Republicans after the astroturfed 2009 town halls set the tone for the health care reform debate in 2010.

An incident at a Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WisconsinAyn Rand), pretty much says it all:

One constituent, a 71-year-old retired plumber from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was handcuffed and pushed to the ground by security.

Ryan seemed supremely undisturbed that a senior citizen worried about receiving the Medicare he’s paid into his whole life was treated so brutally. Indeed, Ryan made light of the arrest and quipped to the audience, “I hope he’s taking his blood pressure medication.”

Privatize political access. Check.
Mock someone’s suffering. Check. (Note: This is called “Republican Humor”)

I am not sure how wise it is to draw attention to yourself when you are on the record as preferring that Medicare be discontinued and, indeed, that there be no affordable blood pressure medications for the elderly. It might just remind people that the Republican health care plan is “Don’t get sick and if you do, die quickly”.

Debatable performances

The Republican presidential candidates met at the Reagan Library to show just who should claim the mantle of Ronald Reagan and carry the party forward to the 19th century. Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney met in a clash of dueling Republican hair job creation statistics and, in a stunning moment of Kafkaesque tragi-comedy, Gov. Romney emerged as a defender of Social Security from the likes of Gov. Perry. Sadly for Mitt Romney, destroying Social Security is not the third-rail of politics in Republican World. The good news for the rest of us is that Social Security is wildly popular in the Real World.

Perhaps the most notable news item from this debate was that executing people is wildly popular with Republicans and that showing any concern about executing the wrong people burnishes one’s GOP bona fides. Mitt Romney’s albatross of a Massachusetts’ governorship now includes the uncomfortable fact that he cannot claim to have killed anyone (although he was cruel to his dog. That should count for something!).

Jobs jobs jobs

President Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress introducing a $400 billion plus jobs bill called the American Jobs Act to put people back to work and to stimulate the economy. The reaction from the Republicans in Congress was swift: ranging from the ridiculous (“We Are Not A Circus“) to the predictable (“We Would Like to Negotiate The Bill to Death“) and the insane (“Stimulus Plans Work … No More Stimulus Plans!“)

One very positive exchange from the White House in a question from Chuck Todd, NBC News to Dan Pfeiffer, White House Communications Director:

TODD: The bill gets sent to Congress next week. Are you guys assuming that it gets sort of piecemealed, that at the end of the day you’re going to get some of what you want but not all of what you want?

PFEIFFER: No, we’re not assuming that. The president said it 16 times, I’ll say it a 17th time today. He wants them to pass the American Jobs Act. That’s the piece of legislation he’s sending up. It’s a simple thing. Puts the Americans back to work and puts more money into the pockets of working families. Our belief is that everything in this bill is reasonable. Everything in the bill has bipartisan support. Everything will have an effect right now. And so we want them to pass it.

Thirty-one million people watched President Obama’s speech, presumably some in districts where infrastructure improvements would be beneficial, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s district where a bridge was just shut down.

(Note to President Obama: take your next road trip to Kentucky. Consider the optics of having to reroute your motorcade around the bridge that Sen. McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t want to fix.)

As Americans focus more and more on the possibility that nothing will fix the economy and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke falls back on the tired complaint that Americans are just not upbeat enough (hey, what’s not to like about 9.2% unemployment and 14 million American households lacking food security?)

Fed Chairman Bernanke channeling Phil (“Mental Recession“) Gramm? Or just being another out of touch rich guy with connections to the financial industry?

Hello? Chairman Bernanke? People are hurting and the real thing that is depressing is that you cannot find anything in your Federal Reserve Bank toolkit to help ordinary Americans.



  1. Lest you think I am being too harsh to Ben Bernanke, here is part of the mission of the Federal Reserve Bank (and presumably it’s chairman):

    conducting the nation’s monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates


%d bloggers like this: