The insane stupidity of the Romney compromise argument

“What’s that direction people look in when they’re lying? I can look the other direction if you want.”

Much has been made over the last few days of the Des Moines Register‘s endorsement of Mitt Romney. The Register‘s argument is two-pronged: first, they believe that Romney’s plan of lower taxes and decreased regulation is the best way to fix the economy. That’s obviously true; when businesses and rich people spend money, it goes into the economy, whereas when the government spends money it goes into a deficit. Low taxes and deregulation are known drivers of economic growth—that’s why we had a massive economic collapse when taxes and regulations were at their lowest. But forget that. The second, more important reason the Register endorsed Romney for president is that he is the better candidate to “forge compromise” in Congress. David Brooks made the same argument over at the Times, and he sounded just as nuts.

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We should totally start a national death pact

The Richmond Bridge in London: funded with a tontine and has not fallen down. Coincidence?

Yesterday I got to reading Bruce Bartlett’s editorial in the Times, wherein he laments House Republicans’ passage of a bill advocating voluntary taxation. It’s not going to turn into anything; we’re talking about Congress, here. If it were a real law, though, HR 6410 would allow taxpayers to designate a contribution in addition to the liability on their returns for the purposes of deficit reduction. The IRS already has a fund for accepting gifts, so practically this bill that won’t become a law will not have changed anything if it does. It is called The Buffett Rule Act of 2012.

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Friday links! In God we trust edition

Oh, God.

Congress voted Wednesday to reaffirm “in God we trust” as the national motto, re-enshrining the slogan as okay for public buildings, schools and other government edifices. Before Wednesday, the official national motto was “in God we trust.” The House basically introduced a law expressing its support for the existing law about which saying we like, and then it spent the afternoon voting yes. Meanwhile, the Republican delegation has filibustered the President’s jobs bill. Regardless of how you feel about that proposed piece of legislation—or its constituent parts, which will rise from the dead and lurch toward the Senate floor for the rest of the year—it’s worth noting that Congress did not spend Wednesday debating alternate jobs plans. In the midst of our protracted economic convalescence, the United States Congress has decided to hold still and declare our trust in God.

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Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t try, don’t do @#$%ing anything

"Everybody calm down. We're going to wait until this whole opposition party thing blows over."

Lately, watching the Democratic senatorial caucus has been like watching your toddler take his first few tentative steps forward, only to see the cat, shriek in terror and sit down until someone tells him what to do. Yesterday, the Senate voted 56 to 43 to begin debate on the Pentagon spending bill that would have ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. If you’ve been unfamiliar with the last two years of Senate proceedings, 56 to 43 is a loss. Because of the threat of filibuster, Democrats need 60 votes to win anything, whereas the Republicans need 41. Never mind that the filibuster hasn’t actually been used since the Democrats won the Presidency and both houses of Congress. Republican senators might do it, and that’s why Democrats scrambled and compromised to get 60 votes to pass health care, 60 votes to pass financial reform, 60 votes to pass anything more significant than a renewal of Flag Day. So, having won the vote to move forward with a plan to repeal DADT supported by the President, the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff, Democrats in the Senate conceded defeat.

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Close readings: Unemployment extension defeated in Congress

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, presumably saying "yea" very quietly.

Late Thursday night—while the rest of us were having a dream in which we go to the bank and the teller says “Your account has accumulated substantial interest, Mr. Brooks,” before opening a vault full of zombies, zombies—Congress did not pass an unemployment benefits extension. Already we enter the realm of subjectivity. In strict, learn-about-it-in-high-school journalism practice, one is discouraged from constructing stories around what did not happen.* The headline on the AP story—Congress fails to pass an extension of jobless benefits—has the word “fail” right in it, as if passing the bill to postpone expiry of unemployment benefits for one million Americans were something the legislative branch meant to do and just couldn’t put together. In some sense, that’s kind of accurate. The Senate voted 57–41 in favor of the bill, but a Republican filibuster derailed it during procedure. Those are the facts. What happened depends on what news you read.

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