Even though the U.S. economy grew by a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, boosted by a surge in exports and the biggest jump in federal spending in five years, Democrats don't seem to be taking credit for it.
Why? The bullies are in control, whether they are Republican Tea Partiers that refuse to compromise on any legislation that won't downsize government programs, the Koch Brothers who fund any candidate or cause that cuts environment regulations, or the NRA, lobbying arm of the gun industry that capitalizes on gun violence to boost weapons sales; they control Washington's agenda these days.
And it has almost wrecked our economy several times since the 2009 end of the Great Recession. Republicans dare not take credit for it, either. "Anyone who trusts the Republicans hasn't been paying attention to what their economic policies have been. Instead of focusing on full employment and higher wages, the Republicans have doubled down on the trickle-down policies that have failed so miserably over the past 30-plus years," says Marketwatch economist Rex Nutting.
In fact, several times since the 2009 end of the Great Recession, Republican anti-government policies almost drove us back into recession. In 2011, Republicans took the government to the brink of default on its debt (and S&P downgrade of U.S. debt) , which led to an agreement with Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to cut spending, by automatically sequestering funds if necessary.
A year ago, the Republicans again forced the issue with a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government, which led to another agreement with the Democrats on spending cuts.
Why do we call them bullies? Because they have been able to get away with their no compromise agenda. And because it looks like Republicans might gain control of the Senate, it's Democrats who have been willing to compromise, when their economic agenda has brought the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent, and economic growth above 3 percent over the last two quarters.
The problem with dealing with such bullies that say it's "my way or the highway," is that they take any sign of compromise as a sign of weakness. So when Vice President Biden says, "Look, we're -- we're ready to compromise," bullies see it as a sign of weakness, that they have already won the battle of this midterm election, so there is no need to compromise.
Going into 2016, the Republicans have to make a decision whether they're in control or not in control," the vice president told CNN's Gloria Borger. "Are they going to begin to allow things to happen? Or are they going to continue to be obstructionists? And I think they're going to choose to get things done."
Unfortunately, that is not how to deal with the bully mentality that has pervaded much of today's politics, as well as our schools. It only happens when there is a leadership vacuum, when strong leaders refuse to step forward that know how to oppose bullies.
Yet we know how -- history has told US. That's how we defeated Hitler and Emperor Hirohito, and even Stalin. Just stand up to them, and only compromise when the bullies are willing to compromise.
Harlan Green © 2014