Monday, July 25, 2011

Extreme Politics is Killing Our Democracy

Today's must-read is a piece from Reuters. Extreme gerrymandering of districts has eliminated moderates, especially moderate Republicans. (We still have a number of Blue Dog Democrats, who resemble the Republicans of Nixon's day.)

Extreme politics is making it impossible for us to find a deal on raising the debt limit. Here's a good history of the debt limit issue from the CBC. It's an artificial crisis that suits the Republican caucus very well. The Republican leaders voted for George W. Bush's raises to the debt ceiling. Every president in the past fifty years has raised the debt ceiling, repeatedly. Who did so the most? Reagan, almost 200%. Second place? George W. Bush, almost 90%. It's only become a GOP issue since Obama took office, raising the question: is this Mitch McConnell's way of delivering on his pledge to make Obama a one-term president? In the midst of the biggest economic crisis in 75 years, McConnell said his top priority was to make sure Obama wasn't re-elected. This is the economy the Republicans want.

Extremes in incomes is killing us too. Here's an interesting study from the Washington Post. If the ratio between rich and middle class earners had remained the same as it was in the 1960s there would be no deficit and no recession. Better paid workers are better consumers, better at keeping up with their debts, more secure homeowners, need fewer government programs, and they don't evade taxes as aggressively as the rich do.

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