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Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2011

SESSIONS' STRIKING MYOPIA.... Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has long been one of the chamber's least impressive members, but his Washington Post op-ed today on fiscal issues is striking in its inanity. It's almost as if the senator is trying to be unserious.

The far-right Alabamian has suddenly discovered the federal debt, and demands that President Obama show "strong leadership" to address it. That, in and of itself, is rather amusing -- Sessions voted for massive tax breaks, two wars, and a massive expansion of Medicare, all of which was financed entirely through the deficit. Indeed, Sessions' preferred policies added $5 trillion to the national debt in just eight years, and left a $1.3 trillion deficit for Obama to clean up in the midst of a global economic crisis.

In effect, Sessions is demanding Obama show "strong leadership" to fix the budget mess Sessions helped create, but wants none of the blame for.

But that's not the funny part. This is.

Before the financial crisis of 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reassured Americans that he had the "housing correction" under control and had "confidence in our capital markets and in their resilience." Just a few months later, Paulson declared that our financial system was "on the verge of collapse" and that "we have not in our lifetime dealt with a financial crisis of this severity."

For years, Washington officials played down the systemic risks behind the crisis while they pushed policies that hastened its arrival.

Today, we are again rushing in the wrong direction.

Last month, President Obama would agree to maintain current tax rates only if Congress would agree to increase federal deficit spending. We are headed toward a cliff, yet the president hits the accelerator.

It's hard to navigate through Sessions' confusion, but he seems to think the national debt -- the one he personally helped make much worse -- has pushed us to the brink of collapse, comparable to the conditions in 2008. With that in mind, Sessions is outraged that the president negotiated extended unemployment benefits, while Sessions and his party sought hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, all of which they insisted be financed through the deficit and added to the debt.

The senator's leaps of logic here are dizzying. Sessions is worried about the debt that he helped create. Late last year, he demanded tax breaks that made the debt worse. And now he's incensed that Obama hasn't done more to fix the problem.

The op-ed goes on to endorse British-style austerity measures, holding the debt limit hostage, and draconian, job-killing spending cuts. Indeed, it's worth emphasizing Sessions wrote an entire op-ed about "economic policy," but didn't mention jobs or employment at all, as if job creation is simply not a priority for him, despite the 9.4% unemployment rate.

Sessions noted in his piece, "The Washington bubble has never been so thick." Senator, something's thick, but I'm afraid it's not the Washington bubble.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

Is Sessions stupid in a Palinesque way? No. He's just playing the game where Republicans get to pose in the toga of rectitude while taking no responsibility for governance. The GOP main constituencies depend on government spending. They would revolt if Sessions and company were perceived to be halfway serious about cutting spending. And they participate in this burlesque for that reason. This is why being a Republican is virtually akin to saying you're a sociopath. When your words mean absolutely nothing, you're either insane or a criminal.

Posted by: walt on January 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

seo mocne [url=http://www.doda-elektroda.eu/]wpolscemamymocneseo[/url] wpolscemamymocneseo

Posted by: Ingesteve on January 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans will cut, or try to cut, funding for the NEA, Planned Parenthood, PBS and various other right-wing boogeyman programs. And succeed or fail, they'll claim they struggled valiantly in the face of socialist thugs bent on destroying America. Then they'll go out for drinks with corporate lobbyists.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The cuts the Republicans perennially demand--for all the things that people like, such as NPR, PBS, etc.--are just for show.

What I still do not understand is what precisely is behind this new Republican (and NYT and WSJ) focus on the horror of our debt. Had the Bush tax cuts elapsed on schedule, there would be no deficit this year.

How long can this ridiculous theatre of the Republicans go on, year after boring year, when they are out of power, and cannot control 100% of all spending? Once Democrats get in then they yell about it, because they do not like where the money goes--not in their pockets, that is, or that of their wealthy patrons.

But who, exactly is behind this debt screaming? It must be the financiers on Wall Street and / or global financiers? Are they afraid they won't get paid back for what they lend us? I wish someone would clarify. The news media has made headlines of this on zero basis ....

Posted by: jjm on January 24, 2011 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Senator, something's thick, but I'm afraid it's not the Washington bubble."

This has to rate as one of my all-time favorite Steve Benen lines; if not the best one ever!!!

Way to go Steve...

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on January 24, 2011 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Senator, something's thick, but I'm afraid it's not the Washington bubble."
I'm with AmusedOldVet. That was an alltime classic.

That this racist imbecile Sessions is a Senator, is an embarrassment to the country.
Thanks Alabama. But then, you're Alabama. What could we expect from the likes of you?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 24, 2011 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

One is surprised that a Senator from Alabama is a moron?

Posted by: TCinLA on January 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sessions is a bit of a dim bulb but his masters are not. They have the deficit issue won so they will stick with it. The economy will improve despite government involvement and the GOP will probably get credit for it. In the end they will have wrecked it, hampered those trying to fix it and then take credit for the improvement without having actually done a thing.
But Democrats...things don't go down like that unless you allow it..and that you did.

Posted by: Richard on January 24, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bipartisanship, baby!

Thanks again WaPost.

Posted by: Librul mediduh on January 24, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, let me take this opportunity to apologize for the quality of politician we elect here in AL.

Posted by: martin on January 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

According to a Tax Foundation study, Alabama received $166 billion in federal spending than its citizens paid in federal taxes over the period 1981 to 2005. Only Maryland, Missouri, Virginia and Washington DC enjoyed federal largess to a greater extent than did Alabama. Yet for all of those years, Alabama voted Republican, the party that was running up these surpluses paid to the state and deficits to the federal government. Let's ask for the money back.

Posted by: Robert Abbott on January 24, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sessions works to ensure continued support for the military installations in AL, namely Redstone's tenents and Fort Rucker, plus the National Guard. His state's job feeds are centered on these installations and the loss of funds to any of them would place AL, and Sessions, in grave straits.

That said, the top 20 appropriations projects Sessions supports is military, with the 1 exception of PEO, which is a contractor supporting the military.

And living in AL, his social interactions and golf partners will include the upper echelon of those installations, all AL representation in WA are in their gun sights. Sessions actually can demand taking a hard line on the deficit, as long as its on the social program side of the house and not the defense side.

Best of both worlds...

Posted by: Skip on January 24, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Before the financial crisis of 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reassured Americans that he had the "housing correction" under control and had "confidence in our capital markets and in their resilience."
Sessions - go fuck yourself
And in 2005 Greenspan declared "There is a slight froth in the housing market" When the seeds of the destruction had been sown and the various houses of cards were being stacked .
Who could have predicted? /snark

Posted by: John R on January 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Before the financial crisis of 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reassured Americans that he had the "housing correction" under control and had "confidence in our capital markets and in their resilience."
Sessions - go fuck yourself
And in 2005 Greenspan declared "There is a slight froth in the housing market" When the seeds of the destruction had been sown and the various houses of cards were being stacked .
Who could have predicted? /snark

Posted by: Knee Andrethal on January 24, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

People think "debt" is bad, so must be bad for the economy.

People think ("money given to poor people" (unemployment benefits) is bad, so must be bad for the economy.

People think taxes are bad, so must be bad for the economy.

There's no inconsistency here to answer for. Voters are too ignorant to understand otherwise. And Democrats are too craven (and corrupt themselves) to point out the facts. For example:

"Sessions voted for massive tax breaks, two wars, and a massive expansion of Medicare, all of which was financed entirely through the deficit."

The majority of Democratic politicians voted for these items also.

Posted by: flubber on January 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

This is hardly an original thought, but I was struck today with notion that the United State political-economy is now nothing more or less than one elaborate con-game. The GOP in their inane, insane way, and the Democrats in their more sober, but still equally mendacious way, are all running a big con job on the citizens. I suppose all governments of all large societies are like this to one degree or another, but with the kind of utter nonsense Sessions was spewing, it does seem our system has reached some kind of zenith (or nadir, if you like) in this area.

Let's face it. We're nothing but a bunch of marks for the grifters in government and corporate executive suites.

And the American public as a whole is profoundly ill-equipped to engage in even the most elementary forms of critical thinking. Fewer than 30% of adult americans have a college degree--not that this guarantees critical thinking ability, it doesn't--and a much smaller percentage of the population has any kind of post-graduate or professional degree.

In short, our Owners are RIGHT to regard us as a bunch of ignorant marks, ripe for fleecing. We are. And grifters like Sessions make that crystal clear to any reasonably thoughtful person when they spew nonsense like this.

Posted by: LL on January 24, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, Sessions' preferred policies added $5 trillion to the national debt in just eight years

You may want to recalculate this figure. It's much closer to $7 trillion if you use fiscal year budgets for 8 years.

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Posted by: flyonthewall on January 24, 2011 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, usually posts such as this end with your usual surmise that the politician in question is either deeply confused or lying (although your prose is so much more genteel). These posts irk me no end since it's clear that at best most Republican politicians are willfully confused. However the confusion is so widespread that it is no doubt a well coordinated effort. But in this instance you've made it clear that the politician in question really is intellectually lacking. Now I'm not sure which is worse.

For another example of breathtaking stupidity see TPM's story of Bachmann's latest speech. She and Sessions should really take it on the road.

Posted by: Letitia on January 24, 2011 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the fact that he's a dumb as a box of rocks, every time I see Jeff Sessions with those beady eyes and bat ears I feel like calling the National zoo to ask if there's a fence down somewhere.

Posted by: max on January 24, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the fact that he's a dumb as a box of rocks, every time I see Jeff Sessions with those beady eyes and bat ears I feel like calling the National zoo to ask if there's a fence down somewhere.

LMAO

Posted by: LL on January 24, 2011 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans can only do well in the next election cycle if unemployment is high, so they promote bad policies under the guise of deficit reduction.

Nothing new here...

Posted by: golack on January 24, 2011 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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