Friday, July 22, 2011

"Please! Stop me before I spend again!"

There's an old saying, and I have no idea where it started, that says something like "Stop me before I kill again."  Evidently it's the plea of a serial killer who is begging to be apprehended because he simply can't stop himself from repeating his heinous crimes.  I'm not a psychologist, so I can't really say whether this could be a real condition, even if the phrase is apocryphal.  However, when a member of the Senate says something similar, I think I can weigh in.

There are actually two things here, but let me start with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and then move on.

Thursday, in a somewhat familiar refrain, McConnell spoke on the floor of the Senate regarding any "tax increases" and the possible repeal of the Bush era tax cuts.  According to CNN, this is what he said:

First, they know government is bound to waste the money. Americans have seen what government does with new tax revenue: They waste it on things like turtle tunnels," he said. "Second, they never use it to pay down our deficits and debt. ... Sending Washington more money will not solve that problem, it will enable it.

Notice those highlighted words...They?

I think it's real important to understand that the guy speaking is They!  He's been in Washington since 1984, so he's been part of They for a long time.  He has been outspoken in his support of Earmarks, and strongly opposed campaign finance reform or regulation.  He has been a part of the Republican leadership in the Senate since he was elected Majority Whip, and served in that position until the Democratic Party achieved a majority in the Senate.

So, given his support for Earmarks, it seems more than slightly disingenuous for him to criticize "turtle tunnels," and his complaint that They in Washington "never never use it to pay down our deficits and debts" sounds a whole lot like "stop me before I kill again!"  In other words, don't give me money, because I won't spend it appropriately.  Like I mentioned above, I'm not a psychologist, but this sounds a whole lot like a man with a serious problem to me.

On a related note, I'd like to spend a minute discussing the most important man in the debt limit discussion who doesn't actually work in government nor hold an elected position: Grover Norquist.

Grover runs a group called Americans for Tax Reform, and his group created the "No Tax Increases" pledge that he holds over the heads of the Republicans who signed it.  It's been said that he can elect or un-elect anybody, simply by threatening to withhold his endorsement based upon the pledge, a move that would cost a candidate bunches of campaign money.  Grover is the ultimate puppet-master.

However, he told The Washington Post something very interesting, namely that he wouldn't consider a voting against continuing the Bush tax cuts as "raising taxes."  Huh?  Okay, just exactly how does he justify this rather obvious double-speak.

Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase.  When he was asked about whether such a vote would violate the pledge, he said We wouldn't hold it that way.

Okay, this has two real meanings.  First, assuming that anyone cares...and a bunch of people do...the people who took the pledge can no longer argue that they pledged No New Taxes...because Grover has spoken and says letting the cuts expire is okay.

Secondly, it means, once again, that we have a person in a leadership role, even if he wasn't elected, saying that if it walks like a duck, and swims like a duck, and looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it still might be a dolphin.  Go figure.

Sorry, folks, but these two guys are just the most recent examples of double-speak...and anybody else is going to have to really work to outdo them.  However, I suspect the candidates are lining up to try.  Sad.  Really sad.

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