I guess I'm not the only one to have noticed: Congressional Republicans would rather destroy America than see Barack Obama reëlected for a second term. Looked at with unfogged eyes, it's apparent that deliberate sabotage of the economy is merely a means to an end.
... tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.
Which is just to say that specifically the White House needs to be prepared not just for rough political tactics from the opposition (what else is new?) but for a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage.
Is it crazy hyperbole to think so? Is it really far-fetched? What would it look like?
You might start with rejecting the advice of economists and oppose any kind of stimulus investments. You'd also want to cut spending and take money out of the economy, while blocking funds to states and municipalities, forcing them to lay off more workers. You'd no doubt want to cut off stimulative unemployment benefits, and identify the single most effective jobs program of the last two years (the TANF Emergency Fund) so you could kill it.
You might then take steps to stop the Federal Reserve from trying to lower the unemployment rate. You'd also no doubt want to create massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system, promising to re-write the rules overseeing the financial industry, vowing re-write business regulations in general, considering a government shutdown, and even weighing the possibly of sending the United States into default.
You might want to cover your tracks a bit, and say you have an economic plan that would help -- a tax policy that's already been tried -- but you'd do so knowing that such a plan has already proven not to work.
It's gotten so bad that, Ian Millhiser writes, a number of Republican judges are now begging the GOP to stop obstructing Obama's nominees....
... Even the most benign, Republican-friendly elements of Obama's agenda, like the new START treaty, are subject to total opposition from the GOP. They use what power they have to prevent government from performing basic duties at any level of efficiency, and then turn around and argue that this reflects a failure of leadership on the part of the president. The pursuit of political power is more important to the party than civic responsibility. It's a testament to the power of low expectations that this hasn't produced more of an outrage, especially since they aren't even pretendingotherwise.
Having made it clear their prime directive is to destroy Obama, not even trying to hide their agenda which might well include a government shut-down, it's not really in question that these guys place their own political goals above the country's best interest. The only question remaining is whether voters will recognize it and, if they do, whether they'll find it abhorrent. And whether the damage done will be too great to reverse.
My guess: no, no, and yes.