Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 17, 2011

RATIONALIZING RIDICULOUS REASONING.... For all the heat the Obama administration takes on its business practices, it's hard to understand what detractors are complaining about, exactly.

Over the last two years, the financial industry has seen bluer skies than most -- massive bonuses have returned to bailed out banks, corporate profits have soared, the private sector is where nearly all of the new jobs are being created, and all of the major investment indexes are way up. The administration even managed to rescue the American automotive industry.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was asked the other day to reconcile real-world developments with Republican rhetoric. Kyl's creative answer is one we're likely to hear again.

Here's the exchange between the conservative senator and Bloomberg News' Al Hunt.

HUNT: Let me talk about the Obama administration and business. Corporate profits are soaring. Goldman Sachs named 110 new partners. Bonuses are flowing. S&P has risen more than in any three-year period since the tech bubble. General Motors is -- the IPO. This isn't an anti-business administration, is it?

KYL: I would contend that, for the last two years, it's been highly anti-business. Some of the results that you just talked about, I suspect, are coming from the fact that we extended tax rates that the president did not want to extend, but was willing to do so at the end of the year last year.

HUNT: But, of course, all these things happened before that.

KYL: No, all these things are, I think, partially a -- a result of the knowledge now that taxes are not going to be raised in the next two years.

I have to wonder if even Jon Kyl believes his own rhetoric on this. For two years, the senator has argued that the Obama administration's policies were bad for businesses. While those policies were being implemented, businesses fared pretty well, and profits soared.

Asked to explain how this is possible, Kyl believes a tax policy that wasn't crafted until December can explain private-sector growth for the previous 11 months.

In other words, business leaders in, say, March 2010 could see into the future, accurately predict a tax policy that would be drawn up in December 2010, and then shape their practices accordingly -- in the process making Republicans responsible for private-sector growth, even while they were complaining that government policies were preventing such growth.

When Kyl wonders why some find it hard to take him seriously in policy debates, he should refer back to this argument.

Steve Benen 11:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

Bookmark and Share

And he's the No. 3 Republican in the Senate. It's no wonder the Repubs are bereft of statesmen.

Posted by: Steve on January 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell would blush in shame.
He was such a piker compared to these guys.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. The argument was if the tax cuts DIDN'T pass it would create MORE uncertainty for business. Uncertainty that they had been feeling the PAST two years.

Posted by: SYSPROG on January 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Kyl -- like most of his GOP contingency -- is an idiot and hack of the highest order. No matter what is happening, he'll lie to smear the progressive agenda and boost the conservative agenda. Simple as that.

Posted by: nemisten on January 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Hunt missed the obvious follow-up question - the lame stream media always does.

So, Mr. Kyl, how's that uncertainty thingy working for you? [wink wink]

Republicans are a strange breed, they will only eat the cake they can have.

Posted by: majun on January 17, 2011 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl is showing what's known as message discipline. The Obama administration is asserted to be anti-business, weak on defending American interests, unsympathetic to core American values,and a variety of other things that amount to the indictment that he's not a legitimate President. There are plenty of people out there who just want to have this picture confirmed every day and never mind the facts. Kyl's their man.

Posted by: davidp on January 17, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Uncertainty is good for business.


Posted by: Todd for VT House on January 17, 2011 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl is not an idiot but uses idiotic talking points because they work. The proper response from Al Hunt would have been derisive laughter but we're forced by the likes of the three Davids (Broder, Brooks, and Gergen) to respect Serious Politicians even when they're nothing more than political vaudevillians. Republicans can literally say anything and still be taken seriously. Anything less and you're being shrill.

Posted by: walt on January 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

While Kyl is dumb as a box of rocks, he has something we don't: A Time Machine. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Here's something I don't get. The banksters, AIG, et al. are only around today because Obama carried on with TARP and sundry other bailouts conceived during the Bush administration (which I don't recall being a target of a conservative insurgency). Supposedly the Tea Party rode to victory last November on a wave of populist anger about these bailouts. Having saved the financial industry from a massive wipeout, we now learn that Obama is also an "anti-business" radical of some kind. So what the teabaggers evidently wanted was for Obama to stick it to the financial industry and let them fail (taking down the US economy with them)...but not to make the banksters feel bad about it somehow? And give billionaire hedge fund managers more tax cuts?

If someone could explain this, I would really appreciate it.

Posted by: jonas on January 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

walt's got the right idea. i'd love it some time if some media person some time just looked at one of these clowns and burst out laughing. that would be rich!

Posted by: just bill on January 17, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Don't I recall these guys saying that the stall in hiring and investment was due the 'uncertainty' about taxes. Seems like 'uncertainty' is a powerful positive market force for the few at the top. Of course, any business person will tell you that one huge factor in hiring is not knowing how much insurance will cost in the next rating period...and that's been the situation for YEARS.

Posted by: k l m on January 17, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Economics is the wholly unsatisfactory means by which humans blame working people for their own financial hardships and justify perverse excess in the wealthy--generation after generation.

Posted by: Sparko on January 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

And who, other than this and other progressive blogs, are raking him over the coals for that latest line of stupidity?


That's why they keep saying that shit. There's absolutely no negative repurcussion from saying anything you want regardless of the merits (or lack thereof).

Posted by: bdop4 on January 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl's remarks are intended for an audience that barely has the attention span to ingest a bumper sticker slogan let alone question what it says.

Since Steve mentioned the auto industry, Obama rescued the auto industry and made the UAW pointless at the same time. Obama has repeatedly shown complete disregard for what unions consider important. Remember the remark from the White House about the union wasting $10 million to support a candidate and Obama supporting the other guy. Obama has been the "Hands off Wall Street" president unless that hand is shoveling money to Wall Street. He has his Wall Street lobbyist Dimmy Timmy Geithner overseeing the loan modification program which is why we had over a million foreclosures last year which set a new record and this year is expected to surpass that. We need to accept that unions built the middle class in this country since WW II and we have had a long string of presidents intent on destroying the unions. Obama's positive speeches and $5 will get you a cup of coffee. The effects of the coffee will last longer than the empty promises of his speeches. Didn't Obama say something about how our future jobs would be based on technology yet we see Evergreen Solar going to China too. Was that tax incentives to move or "uncertainty"?

We'll probably next see Obama telling Holder to disregard any information from Wikileaks regarding off-shore tax practices divulged by the Swiss ex-banker while "being forced to give in" to Republicancers on the catfood commission's recommendations to gut Social Security. What do you think he will give up so the Republicancers will vote to raise the debt ceiling. I say close some overseas military bases and reduce the size of our empire if any of those cruds (of both parties) in Washington are serious about reducing the deficit.

Posted by: tko on January 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"I have to wonder if even Jon Kyl believes his own rhetoric on this." --Steve Benen 11:45AM

If Mr Benen really does "have to wonder," then he's nowhere near as perceptive or intelligent as he pretends to be.
If, on the other hand, Mr Benen knows -- as we all do -- that Kyl is deliberately and with malice aforethought lying thru his teeth, and that almost all* the Publicans and their bought-and-paid-for media mouthpieces are doing the same, then this coy understatement insults the intelligence of his readers.
This is a wonderful blog that provides excellent information, often new to me, and even better analysis. I just wish this continual coy understatement could be dispensed with; I just don't see the value of it, and it's annoying as all get-out.

*Yes, some of them -- especially among the rank-and-file voters and lay activists -- are no doubt so completely stupid and blindered that they don't even realize they're expressing blatant untruths. But not the majority, and not the most powerful and important leaders.

Posted by: smartalek on January 17, 2011 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl's creative answer is one we're likely to hear again.

Of course we will. We've heard the same thing over and over since the days of St. Ronnie: everything bad that happens in the US is the result of failures from the previous Democratic administration or anticipation of failures of the next Democratic administration; everything good is the result of current or former Republican administrations. It doesn't matter if years or even decades separate events and Presidents, the above truth is eternal. You just need to believe (and clap your hands if you believe).

Posted by: GringoNoraca on January 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

These are income tax raises we are talking about -- not corporate taxes. If a manager of a corporation did not further a business plan that would make his corporation significant profit because of his own income tax situation he should/would be fired.

Posted by: patrick II on January 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

After observing Jon Kyl for decades I can come to no other conclusion then he really believes everything he says, and that he is asinine, thoughtless, and just plain dumb. I can't imagine why anyone would interview him except to embarrass him.

Posted by: max on January 17, 2011 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

what makes this triply cringe-worthy is that Kyl et al. were arguing for months that the uncertainty of tax policy was driving businesses into the ground. Now he's claiming that they must have known all along that their tax cuts would be extended.


Posted by: bruce k on January 17, 2011 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl is not unique. The Republicans are bereft of intellect, of any real plans. What the Republicans be forced to fall back on then ...?

Violent rhetoric, which will have to take the place of these.

I see that even Jeb Bush's suggestion that the Republicans should do minority outreach has been met with threatening language by conservatives.

RIDICULOUS. And they will only appear more and more ridiculous as time goes on and they have nothing but empty bullying words to offer.

Posted by: jjm on January 17, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Here's how it works: corporate profits are soaring because the business community anticipated that the Bush tax cuts would be extended. On the other hand, employment numbers are abysmal because the business community has been uncertain about the Bush tax cuts being extended.

It all makes sense now. And tax cuts, as we all know, pay for themselves. Just add water! Repeat if necessary. Let's all eat cake now, shall we?

Posted by: josef on January 17, 2011 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

That is just fuckin' shameless. That exchange is an example of where, if the voters were paying attention and heard Kyl say that retarded stuff, he couldn't get elected dogcatcher! God, he pisses me off....

Posted by: Sam Simple on January 17, 2011 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl, like many Cons, misrepresents economic activity by manipulating the cause and effect hidden by economic momentum. The economy has a momentum, and inertia, that any rational person realizes takes time to change course. It was the downward momentum of the Bush policies helped usher in the Great Recession. But since the Dems were in power in Congress (and trying to steer the ship away from disaster), they get blamed for it. Now the upward momentum of the economy began with Dems and Obama's policies, but the Cons pretend like the economy can turn on a dime. It can't.

Posted by: JWK on January 18, 2011 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

That is just fuckin' shameless. That exchange is an example of where, if the voters were paying attention and heard Kyl say that retarded stuff, he couldn't get elected dogcatcher! God, he pisses me off....

Posted by: Sam Simple on January 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly