(originally published at The Huffington Post)
In the debt-ceiling debate Republicans are holding the country hostage again, demanding that the country shift to a radical pro-big-corporate/big-wealth agenda as the ransom. At the same time the Tea Partiers say don't raise the debt limit, period, and let the country default, hoping that out of the resulting chaos and desperation they can rebuild the economy in an Ayn Randian, rule-by-the-rich vision.
Either way, this is a radical, unprecedented attempt to redefine our form of government, largely privatizing for a few the wealth of We, the People while stifling our voice. If we give in to this extremist vision of cut and gut, America will lose the engine that made us prosperous.
Sabotaging Economy Short-term
In the short-term it is looking more and more like Republicans are deliberately sabotaging efforts to recover the economy and create jobs, as a strategy to turn voters against President Obama in the coming elections. The cuts that Republicans are demanding threaten jobs and the recovery. From the post Debt-Ceiling Deal's Cuts Could Crash Economy:
Withdrawing government spending literally "takes money out of the economy." We have a crisis because of lack of demand. Republican solutions of giving the wealthy and corporations even more money and tax cuts obviously will not work because the rich don't create jobs, we do. The rich are already richer than ever, with a greater share of the income and wealth than ever, and giant corporations are already sitting on tons of cash.
So with the stimulus winding down, and state and local budget cuts causing layoffs of teachers, firefighters and other government employees, Republicans are demanding even more layoffs from federal budget cuts as a "cure." But cutting government as a prescription for creating jobs sounds a lot like their claim that cutting taxes increases revenue. The problem is a lack of demand, and budget cuts taking hundreds of billions out of the economy only makes that worse.
So are Republicans doing this on purpose, to tank the economy, improving their 2012 election chances?
Late last year, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen surfaced the question, saying that in light of Republican efforts to take capital out of the economy, stop the focus on unemployment, and take economic growth off the agenda in favor of deficit reduction,
I obviously can't read the minds of GOP policymakers, but it seems at least worth talking about whether they're prioritizing the destruction of a presidency over the needs of the nation.
Early this month Henry Blodget asked Are Republicans Intentionally Sabotaging Economy For Political Gain? Click through for the video.
More recently, in Democrats Explicitly Call Out GOP For Sabotaging The Economic Recovery, TPM reported:
In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate's top Democrats argued that Republicans don't want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they'll improve President Obama's re-election chances.
"Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The harshest denunciation came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the man who crafted the Dems' new "jobs first" message.
"We are also open to hiring incentives, perhaps in the form of a payroll tax cut for employers that was floated by the administration.... [T]hat might not be our first choice, that shows how willing we are to work with the Republicans to create jobs. It's pro-business, it's a tax cut, and many Republicans have been for it in the past. But now all of a sudden they're coming out against it,"