Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GOP Fast Shuffle

Two years ago, they ran against Barack Obama, accusing him of "wealth redistribution." In two months, Republicans have been working to do just that--upward.

After holding the President hostage in December to save $4 trillion in tax cuts for the richest Americans, the new House majority is now pushing for budget reductions out of the hides of the poor and middle class.

The GOP will have to change its symbolic elephant to a more forgetful creature as it bamboozles the public with a sudden switch of priorities from stimulating the economy to slashing the deficit.

Now John Boehner, after juggling figures, dismisses the loss of government jobs, with a breezy "So be it" as his protégé Paul Ryan earns two Pinocchios in a fact-check claim of his juggling of figures about new spending and new taxes.

In a press conference on the budget, the President is in his usual conciliatory mode as he deems possible “a spirit of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans," offering to negotiate differences on specifics.

But the devil in the details is a combination of greed and fear. For the GOP, it is both, greed for more electoral gains from the Tea Party in 2012 and fear of not appeasing the movement enough to retain political support.

For Democrats, it is fear alone, approaching panic that more of them will be swept out of Congress for resisting cuts in programs that promote the common good.

Cooperation may be the President's stated goal, but under the radar, his Administration issues a threat to veto any bill coming out of the House that "undermines critical priorities or national security."

That covers a lot territory, but will Barack Obama have the deftness and determination he showed in the lame-duck session to extract some public gains from the GOP monolith as it switches themes from stimulating the economy to cutting budget deficits?

The politics of posturing goes on, with reality running a distant second.

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