Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country

Not my words: the words of a career Republican Congressional budget staffer.

You’re free to disagree with that sentence, but the man who wrote it, Mike Lofgren, was a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill for 28 years, 16 of them working for the Republicans staffs of the House and Senate Budget Committees. He’s not an Obamabot like me, and he presumably knows what he’s talking about.

He also writes:

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

Lofgren concludes:

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America’s status as the world’s leading power.

And that, of course, is the basis of my plea, and Keith’s to the progressive critics of the Administration: no matter how frustrated you are, please do nothing to further what Lofgren calls “acts of political terrorism.” Abuse of power – holding the national credit hostage, interfering with the right to vote – is natural. The only check on it is an outraged electorate. Let’s keep the outrage focused where it belongs.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

26 thoughts on “Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country”

  1. IOW, the go along to get along Republican establishment, that was perfectly happy with being a legislative minority, and which only cared for the opportunity for rent seeking when outside forces propelled it into the majority, doesn’t like Republicans who aren’t Democrats lite. Oh, big surprise.

  2. Mark,

    I think it would help the cause a lot if Obama himself displayed some outrage at Republican tactics, every now and then. A fair portion of the criticism directed at him has been at his own lack of outrage. It is a mistake to think that his “progresive critics” are simply those to his left who are unrealistically angry over policy outcomes. Much criticism, certainly much of mine, is aimed at a failure to arouse the kind of outrage we both think is justified – a failure to explain (to understand?) the kinds of things Lofgren is saying.

  3. The lack of courage jab is a bit of leftwing self-delusion. It’s not that he lacks the courage of your convictions. It’s that he has is own convictions, and they’re not yours. They mostly have to do with vacations in Bali and having the fairways cleared, but he has ’em.

  4. Sorry, Brett, but Obama’s taken less vacations than the type of president you voted for. Obama certainly has convictions that are based in public policy. The convictions are of a center-right Republican from a couple of decades ago (outside of a soft spot for gays that has more to do with the current zeitgeist than anything principled). We of the progressive side of the ledger have no intent at this time to support Obama, and are praying for a primary candidate against him. Still, we recognize that if the Republicans nominate Perry or Bachmann or someone like that, we have to be far more careful should Obama be renominated. And being in California, we now have to worry about our state being held hostage to other states, as someone thought it was a good idea to only partially undermine the Electoral College.

  5. I’m sure that for people like Mark and Keith, who have contractually guaranteed long-term employment and salaries which place them well within the top 10% of income earners, the prospect of a President Perry is, indeed, truly frightening. Perry, his fellow travelers in the Republican Party and the people who support them have no respect for the one thing, superior intellect, which afford Messrs. professors their social and economic standing. It makes sense for Mark and Keith to defend the status quo. They are prospering within it.

    Of course there are significant differences between what the Democratic and Republican Parties have to offer. What isn’t discussed so much here are the similarities the two dominant parties share and how these similarities affect the everyday lives of people less fortunate than Mark and Keith more than do the differences.

    The most obvious point of affinity between teams red and blue is foreign policy. Despite quibbling over details, all is right in the Washington DC halls of power as long as the military is being used actively to secure access to resources and markets, somewhere, anywhere. So much the better that there is little accounting of the true costs of our imperial adventuring. Vast amounts of resources are misallocated and unimaginably large numbers of innocent people are killed, maimed and/or displaced. But, hey: USA! USA! We’re Number One! This won’t be changing anytime soon so there’s nothing to be gained electorally in the United States by harping on it. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are bi-partisan proof of this.

    Another obvious similarity, one that could be germane to the 2012 election if the Democrats had any brains, is economic policy and how it has evolved over the last thirty years to the detriment of the middle and lower classes. Look at this graph of the percentage of jobs lost relative to peak employment tracked over time for each post-WWII recession. The similarity of the lengths and slopes of the 2001 and 2007 lines tells you all you need to know about priorities among the ruling class, Democrat and Republican alike.

    There are any number of policies Obama could propose Thursday night in addressing the unemployment calamity that would fire up discouraged liberals. Sincere populist rhetoric followed by concrete legislation would bring a lot of disaffected voters back into his fold (here are three proposals, for example). Sure, the boldest proposals would never pass congress, but then nothing the president actually does propose will likely be acted on. Nevertheless, the process would began the long, slow task of moving the political center back towards the left. That the president will offer only weak tea initiatives (pun intended) that will do little to improve economic conditions tells you all you need to know about Obama’s comfort with the center continuing to drift rightwards. As Brett notes above, the president does not share many convictions with the Left.

    A more dramatic picture of the long-term effects of ruling class priorities can be seen here. What does it matter to people in the bottom 80% of the income distribution whether we’re being screwed by President Obama or President Perry? Despite personal effort and contribution to rising rates of productivity, collective income will continue to either remain flat or decline based on individual circumstance. The deck is stacked regardless of which party is doing the shuffling. What kind of future is that?

    Too bad for Mark and Keith if they are made worse off should the Democrats lose next year. For way too many in this country it doesn’t matter who wins. (For proof of this, just look at voter participation rates.) Economically, we’re screwed either way. Not having any disposable income to donate, the only power I have short of taking to the streets is to withhold my vote and convince as many people as I can to do the same. The moment I signal an intention to support the Democrats is the moment they stop caring what I think (not that they care much now). If enough people do likewise the Democrats will either change for the better or go the way of the Whigs.

  6. Over @ Crooked Timber, a commenter on a post, yesterday I think, put it in a nutshell:

    Obama does not deserve to be re-elected, and the American people don’t deserve to be governed by Republicans.

  7. Do some research on your own for once… Mike Lofgren retired making 140K/year as a staffer for the Senate Budget committee (not ‘on the GOP side’), after working many years as an unbiased member of the House Budget committee… he donated $750 to a GOP candidate back in 1992 but that was it… he was never elected to anything for the GOP and never played any role in creating policy for the GOP. He’s a nobody bureaucrat who made a lot of money on taxpayers backs producing phony numbers for both parties. His essay is worth nothing.

  8. Good point, Conservative Teacher. So maybe Lofgren wasn’t an active GOP member. Still, he saw up close what was going on, and after getting out of the DC fishbowl, spoke a deep truth about the wackiness that is currently in vogue at the highest levels of the Republican Party. Doesn’t that count for something more than if say, Michael Moore or Bill Maher said it?

  9. Mike Lofgren posted an essay signed with the following:

    Mike Lofgren retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Congressional staffer. He served 16 years as a professional staff member on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees.

    ACT’s contention is apparently either that Lofgren was deliberately lying or that Lofgren knew less about his partisan status than did ACT. Others may choose to believe that Lofgren isn’t lying, and is better informed about his career than is ACT.

    Also in ACT’s vitriolic little comment is the claim that the job of the House and Senate budget committees is to process phony numbers concocted by their staffers. That ACT would make such assertion is wholly consistent with an important part of Lofgren’s essay.

  10. ACT clearly knows nothing about the functioning of the Congress. There are no “committee staffers.” There are Democratic staffers and Republican staffers.

  11. the left fears, the right hates” — Lofgren paraphrasing another author.

    It’s hard to deny that the Democrats are becoming increasing afraid of the Republicans. I think this largely explains Obama’s timidity as well as those in Congress. The question is is it a rational fear? And if so what to do?

  12. It always amazes me that some people, e.g. ACT, never seem to question projections of “75-year unfunded liabilities” for Social Security and Medicare as “phony numbers”. Somehow, “numbers” that imply we have to whack entitlement spending or our children are all gonna die seem divinely inspired to these guys. It’s only OTHER “numbers” that are “phony”.


  13. Hmm, Brett Bellmore clearly has a lot of certitude about the preferences of a president who he is not at all certain was even born in the United States. Fascinating.

  14. There’s plenty of room for outrage against Democrats who enable Republican terrorism by giving into it preemptively at every opportunity. Outrage against Obama is necessary if one’s outrage against Republicans is to ever be useful for anything other than throwing a hissy fit.

  15. ACT: No need to tell us you’re a Conservative, that much was more than obvious by the content of your message, so typical of today’s Conservative style of “debate”.
    You start out by accusing your opponent of that which you are obviously guiltier of (“Do some research on your own for once…”), as demonstrated by Warren’s excellent rebuttal.
    You continue by attacking the credibility of the man your opponent presents as knowledgeable on the subject matter. Again, Warren nicely points out the error of your statements to that regard.
    You conclude by declaring the essay on the subject matter worthless based solely on the fallacy of your previous arguments.

    All personal attacks against the messengers, and not one word of rebuttal on the message. So typical it made the “Conservative” in your handle redundant.

  16. Lofgren has given us a all-hands-on-deck alert! The Ralph Nader wing of the Democratic party had better not sit this election out, or Whale Oil, Beef Hooked!

  17. “Let’s keep the outrage focused where it belongs.”

    On that awful Negro in the White House. For once I concur.

  18. I’ll second Anonymous. President Obama has made it quite clear that he cares not one whit about the preferences of those who are already committed to vote for him, so there is no point in being one of those. That he would be swayed by the prospect of winning back my vote, when that would require him to move leftward, towards the liberal center, is also a dubious proposition – but at least one with a non-zero probability of being correct. So the best I can do is to repeatedly state out loud that I will vote for candidate Obama in 2012 if and only if he does visibly move leftward, towards the liberal center, before the 2012 elections.

    I don’t hold high hopes for this strategy – mostly because I can’t back it up with a thing that really matters in America, i.e. a fat checkbook – but at least, my conscience will be cleaner.

  19. eb, how clean will your conscious be if a Republican president nominates someone to the Supreme Court who gives Scalia and Thomas a majority even without Kennedy? There will be no more swing vote, but there will be five justices whose sole mission is to implement far-right policies. For starters, thousands of people will die from inadequate health insurance. Will you have a clean conscience then?

  20. Obama’s approach to changing the culture of Washington is like a candidate who recognizing that there’s too much money in politics decides he’s going to cap his campaign fund at $1M. He thinks he can change the game by not playing it. Only children are that naive.

  21. A-freakin-men to Tim. And Bill Clinton tried that crap too……trying to be above it all, Third Way, and whatever the hell else he did that I now can’t remember. Naive is actually a mild way to put it. As Bernard, way up top, put it, a little outrage directed at republicans would be nice and would probably go a long way to re-establishing his bona fides with his base. One thing in particular that I would like to see is for him to stop this crap about “some people say” or “some people think.” Why can’t he just come right out and say “Republicans want to do this or that”.?? I’m sure that he will say the next election will be a clear choice blah blah blah……..well, if he wants to make it a clear choice he needs to start being clear!

  22. I realize that’s just an analogy, Tim, but surely you can find a better one, in the case of a President who opted out of public financing so that he could raise and spend a record amount of money. I mean, it’s kind of like saying, “Hefner’s approach is like a man who takes a vow of chastity…”; Rhetorically, it just doesn’t work.

  23. You know, I really wasn’t a Firebagger for a long time, but this sums it up pretty well for me:

    This is where I start:
    “To assess the President’s performance, one must start with a more coherent story of what Obama and the country faced in January 2009 and what those conditions called for after eight disastrous years of the Bush presidency.”

    This is where the president starts:
    “Independents! That’s who I need. I’ll show them that I am the adult in the room. My base will always be there.”

    Umm, not necessarily.

  24. I’ve got a series of posts that show Lofgren is barely a RINO and while he lists plenty of good facts, his conclusions are terrible. Check them out at my blog linked at my name.

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