Monday, June 11, 2012

Fake Concerns, Real Arguments

If you've been following the news lately, you may have noticed that Americans from seemingly every political background are protesting nearly everything these days.

From the intolerant misogynists insisting their "religious freedom" gives them the right to force others not to have access to birth control, to the bigots thinking gays and lesbians should still be second-class citizens, every angry American seems to be protesting about something these days. Even the angry overweight denizens of New York City have been hollering about their right to keep gulping their 48 ounce soft drinks - a right that their Mayor Bloomberg is trying to take away from them.

For all the heated rhetoric and significant media coverage that each of these topics has received, you'd think they were each equally important in this November's elections - which they're not.

One of the most important issues that will be decided this fall was played out in the middle of the day, last Friday, between President Obama and Mitt Romney. If you were watching the national news media, though, you may have only caught part of the argument.

At a press conference on Friday morning, President Obama was asked about his accurate comparison of Mitt Romney and the GOP's policies of austerity, to the failed policies of austerity in Europe. The President responded by comparing the private sector job growth in America to the public sector job losses in this country. He said that, relatively speaking, "The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors... who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."

Of course, the right wing propagandists - who rarely care about the facts anyway - couldn't stop focusing on Obama's words about the private sector doing fine, as Dave Weigel pointed out. What their purposeful ignorance of the President's context missed is that the private sector IS doing fine, compared to the public sector. Chart after chart, statistic after statistic proves Obama is right.

America's economic and jobs problem is in the lack of hiring in the PUBLIC sector - government hiring - just as the President said it is.

Mitt Romney also made news on Friday afternoon, mostly noticed by those few in the media who hadn't already left early for the weekend. It began when Mr. Romney tried to come out and take Mr. Obama's words out of context - as Romney has done from the very beginning.

What ended up happening was that Mr. Romney revealed to the world that he has absolutely NO idea of what the problems in the U.S. economy really are.

Romney said of Obama, “He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

Even the governor of Wisconsin said, Sunday morning, that Romney got the message of Wisconsin's election wrong.

The biggest problem is, this isn't a gaffe by Romney. This is Romney's policy - a policy of austerity, of choking off assistance to the cities and states, of abandoning them on their own, at exactly the time they need the Federal government. This displays a complete inability to understand the fundamental nature of our government - and our economy.

Sadly, the inability to understand the fundamentals of our economy was the exact same problem the previous GOP nominee for president also had four years ago. For two elections in a row, one of our two major political parties has nominated someone who has no understanding of how economics really works. If Americans are looking for a reason to protest, that is a truly important problem, worthy of yelling and hollering about. We doubt you'll find many Americans ready to camp out over this issue, though.

If Americans want to get angry, to get out in the streets, to protest and chant, we have no problem with that. In fact, we think it's sometimes a great idea.

The problem we have is when Americans are too stupid to see that protesting the inability to buy a Big Gulp the size of a bucket does not deserve the same intensity as having the GOP repeatedly nominate candidates for the Presidential race who don't even understand the basic nature of our government or the economy.

One of these things is worth crying about. The other isn't.

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