It's not really a contest of leadership or integrity, although Murray could easily win such a contest over the lamentably more sold out Dino Rossi. This election for U.S. Senator in Washington State turns on a few key campaign slogans. These slogans are:
- The economy stinks so the (incumbent) bums should be thrown out.
- The national debt and deficits are too high.
- Government spending must be cut back.
- The Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda (whatever that is).
Oh, and here lately, there's pork. Let's talk about that first. Seems Patty brings home too much bacon for the conservative diet. Funny though, Republicans were never vegetarians before, in recent years cutting off and bringing home two times as much of government lard as Democrats. The last year the GOP held Congress, pork barrel spending was around $29 billion. In 2010, under Democratic control, pork amounted to $16.5 billion. So by party association alone, you should vote for Murray to keep the Democrats in power, if you are serious about pork.
And without getting into a philosophical debate, as I don't think pork's an efficient or above board way to appropriate funds, I hope it is reasonable to say that pork that comes to Washington State is to the benefit of the state economy and creates jobs. Murray, with her 18 years of seniority, brings home the pork. Rossi will not be able to do that for a full term or more. So, with the very, very new come-to-Jesus sentiment of the GOP about pork spending (which, by the way, the GOP Congressional delegation is still indulging on), doing what is good for the state is now suddenly bad for the state. Fail to see the logic in that?
The Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda is what? It's nothing. You hear it all the time but nobody can articulate any understanding of it that's consistent with anyone else's idea. That's because its what's known as a dog whistle in politics. It stands for the sum of all your fears about what government might do and is loosely framed by socialism. Funny that while the GOP and Tea Party are calling Obama socialist, Democrats are calling him a conservative -- at least as much or maybe even more conservative than Reagan. A dog whistle is not something on which to base a vote -- specific issues are -- and to date the Democrats have told you what they intend to do while the Congressional GOP has said next to nothing at all about their plan for the economy, health care (the fix) or the country.
Government spending is not an issue for the American people, with about 7% of people expressing concern. Hardly nobody cares how much is spent as long as it does some good. People also seem to realize governing spending helps the economy, and they are right. There is no more pernicious lie in American political life than the one saying deficit spending kills jobs. You may search the Bureau of Economic Analysis until you are blue in the face and not find any evidence that government spending hurts the economy, none. What you will find is that in every instance of an economic downturn since the Great Depression, government spending and Federal Reserve money printing is what has corrected the problem. The current pitiful state of the economy is a result of government spending half of what it should have on the Stimulus Bill. This, conveniently, allows to GOP to claim that it did no good. Most economists agree that it did stop a second Great Depression though.
Deficit is part and parcel a spending issue. The Debt is something else. The Debt has been run up by Republicans, period. It grew when both Reagan and Bush cut taxes and did not cut spending. Democrats have always been better at managing the fiscal condition of the country. Again, it's a matter of record. The GOP seems to suffer from the Reagan delusion that cutting taxes will spur the economy and back-fill for tax cuts. We've tried this twice now and it has been a fiscal disaster both times.
Deficits gone wild increase the debt. The current deficit is a product of Republican fiscal irresponsibility. Both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D were of meager to no value to Medicare recipients. They were, instead, $900 billion corporate welfare programs. When the right or Rossi talks about Democrats cutting Medicare he's talking through his hat. The $500 billion dollars going to Medicare Advantage was pure pork and everybody knew it. You could argue that the right thing to do would be to just shut down both programs. But the Republicans are the ones that created them, so voting Republican will clearly not accomplish any sort of waste control in this regard.
The sorest point for the public, by far, is the lousy economy, whether you lost your job or your home or not. Unemployment is stuck at 5% higher than is normal. If you think its higher than that, then you are victim of political slight of hand. News media and politicians are now using the more obscure Bureau Of Labor And Statistics number called U6 to report unemployment for the first time in history. The official statistic, U1, is 9.6% and not the 16% you might have heard. 9.6% is just 5% more than is considered optimum. Doesn't help the millions out of work to know that, but it might help you make a better voting decision.
Resistance to government spending in general and deficit spending in particular are going to keep the economy in the tank for a long time, which will increase the deficit in itself. We are coming out of a debt bubble and people are paying down debt rather than consuming. Estimates of how long that will take vary by your assumptions as to how much debt must be paid down before people will start spending again. Nobody is going to be hired while people are not consuming and the economy will not grow. We are in for a protracted recession if government doesn't intervene by injecting money into the economy to create jobs.
The thing is, the Republicans know this but are not allowing it to happen in the Senate. Literally, the GOP contingent and a few Blue Dog Democrats are deliberately holding back the economic stimulus they know the economy needs. They are doing it in order to make the Democrats unpopular so that they can win seats this Tuesday. But there's more. They are going to keep doing it until Obama is so unpopular that he is likely to lose re-election in 2012. That's another two years of certain misery for the American people.
Dino Rossi, if elected, will join a Republican caucus that is going to deliberately make your life hard in order to win back the government. The thing is that a new GOP Congress, if true to the policies of cutting spending and reducing the debt, will not help you even if elected. Never mind that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda is to do exactly what is needed for the economy (see, I told you everyone hears a different tune from a dog whistle).
If you're thinking in terms of a protest vote, don't. They can't work. If you don't vote then you just go down as a non-voter and nobody will care what you think. If you cross over, you will simply be counted as the opposition. Worst of all, if you don't vote you are letting someone else pick the winners.
So vote Patty Murray and Democrat and save yourself, it's the self reliant thing to do right now. The Republicans and Dino won't even let you up off the mat.
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