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Celebrating Pretend and Cruel Conservatives

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Bobo somehow managed to survive his latest access-induced fever to scribble down some notes involving a wonderful dream he had about a "fiscal Conservative" named Meg Whitman. You see, Meg is a total babe because she spent $120 million on her campaign to become California's governor, but she has the common decency to keep an old Ford in her garage, which tells you she's One Of Us.

Whitman serves on what Bobo has dubbed the "austerity caucus," but could more accurately be described as the "hypocrite squad." What makes Whiteman sexy, according to Bobo, is that she isn't flashy like Sarah Palin, but rather "detail-oriented, managerial, tough-minded, effective but a little dry." Apparently, "flamingly contradictory" didn't make the cut, though the label fits.

The "fiscally Conservative" Whitman supported the bank bailout. At the time, she called it "the right thing to do." Meanwhile, the other GOP rockstars Bobo lists as part of the austerity caucus: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Jeb Bush, Gov. and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana are guilty of blatant hypocrisy when it comes to austerity measures, and dickensian budget cuts that play well in elite GOP circles, but which actually hurt real life people Bobo and Company will never have to meet.

Bobby Jindal first rejected stimulus, and then later attempted to take credit for it, and Jeb Bush praised President Obama's Race to the Top program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 AKA "the stimulus." The austerity cheerleaders are all for slashing spending...until their states really need the cash, at which point they quietly pocket the money and hope the media and the voters never hold them accountable.

Hilariously, Bobo brags that this D-team is being assisted by such intellectual giants as Bob Grady, who did budgeting for Dubya, the guy who racked up the deficit in the first place with his military occupations, and tax breaks for the wealthy.

He goes on to praise Whiteman's devotion to budget cuts with the sterile indifference of a villain's chief advisor, peering down at a burning village from the top of Sauronian minaret- drumming his fingertips together while muttering, "Good....good."

At no point does he dwell on the question: who do the cuts affect? Perhaps because the answer is depressing. In the state of New Jersey, the cuts affect teachers, but those people don't really count because they weren't "willing," according to Bobo, to chip in 1.5 percent of their salaries to help pay for health benefits. This is the GOP mindset: "willing" now substitutes for "able." As long as they're breathing, the underclass can - and should - always sacrifice a little more. Christie also had the option of raising taxes on the wealthy, but he just couldn't bring himself to do this because it would, you guessed it, hurt business leaders AKA the people who matter.

Some have accused Christie of waging a war against teachers, and all public servants. Alan Singer, a Social studies educator at Hofstra University, writes

A day after he was inaugurated as Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie issued an Executive Order which reduced the state's maximum contribution to public employee pension funds. This was not a surprise. In his campaign for Governor, Christie had blamed public workers for the state budget deficit. Trade unions knew through leaked memoranda even before Christie was inaugurated that his advisers were planning to divide the labor movement, which has historically been strong in New Jersey, by pitting public employees against other workers.

Christie proclaimed his own version of a "class war" with the comment that there are "two classes of people in New Jersey: Public employees who receive rich benefits and those who pay for them." Christie's demagoguery has most sharply been directed against teachers and their unions. He called the National Education Association (NEA) the "National Extortion Association."

If you're not part of the "right class" of people, you shouldn't expect help from Big Government, which exists only to support the wealthy.

But isn't this all about greedy teachers suckling on Uncle Sam's withered teat?

The reality of course is that New Jersey public employees are neither living high on their pension benefits, nor are they the cause of the state's complex fiscal crisis. In terms of income, public sector employees earn less than their counterparts in the private sector. This, however, is balanced out by their health and pension benefits, what many Europeans called "social incomes." The pension "crisis" in New Jersey, as in other states, has been the result primarily of the larger stock market crisis and the raiding of pension funds. States and communities have been "skipping" payments to these funds in order to balance budgets. As of 2009, when Christie took office, all public pension funds in New Jersey were underfunded by $46 billion.

Oh well. More pension cuts should sort all of that out.

The anti-big government Christie has repeatedly demanded New Jersey communities "renegotiate" existing contracts with public employees and threatened them with cutoffs of state aid. Read the entire undressing here to see just how cruel this asshole is.

And now, Whitman has declared her desire to bring the New Jersey model to California.

She promised to slash an additional $15 billion in spending and reduce the state government work force by 40,000, reiterating points she made earlier in the week when she formally announced her candidacy. She provided no details about how she would achieve those goals.

I'm guessing the finer details are: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

The problem with analysis from ivory tower types like Bobo is they have zero understanding of the real life consequences of the policies they propagandize. Does David Brooks understand the impact of a 30% co-pay for health benefits? Unlikely, but that's the kind of cruel measure Christie is proposing, and which Bobo supports.

Maybe if Christie one day proposes getting rid of useless sycophantic columnists at dying publications, Bobo will change his tune, but until then, as long as it's only The Little People who are being asked to sacrifice, he'll continue to carry on as a pathetic cheerleader for hypocrites and despots.

Cross-posted from allisonkilkenny.com

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