More on John Shadegg

What does retiring representative John Shadegg’s stubborn, stupid rant on MSNBC on 30 November 2010 tell us?

Look over the following from http://www.pensitoreview.com/2010/12/01/why-was-gop-rep-shadegg-so-giddy-about-tossing-2-million-jobless-americans-to-the-wolves-at-christmas/ and then let’s talk.

Mike Barnicle’s debate with outgoing Arizona GOP-T Rep. John Shadegg on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has gotten attention because of the outrageous new Grover Norquistian talking point about unemployment benefits that Shadegg trotted out:

It wasn’t Shadegg’s audacious lying that was remarkable — you can see that 24/7 on Fox — it was his swagger, the near-giddiness with which he consigned 2 million unemployed Americans to the wolves at the same time that he was demanding tax breaks for people so wealthy they don’t need to work.

BARNICLE: What about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy. Immediate.

SHADEGG: No, they’re not. Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.

BARNICLE: Unemployed people spend money, Congressman, because they have no money.

SHADEGG: Ah — ah — So your answer is it’s the spending of money that drives the economy. I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drive the economy.

BARNICLE: But if you spend money in a variety store –

SHADEGG: Actually, the truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can. Job creators create jobs.

A little later, Barnicle followed up on unemployment benefits:

BARNICLE: Let’s go back to what you said about unemployment checks. Unemployment checks, people don’t spend that money?

SHADEGG: No. They will spend as little as they can because they’ll hold on to it as long as they can. In reality, they don’t create jobs. You still haven’t told me how unemployed people create jobs.

Shadegg was, of course, lying. In reality, consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy — and unemployment checks are immediately stimulative. Unemployed people use their checks to pay rent or mortgages, keep their utilities on, buy groceries and generally keep local economies active. The unemployed may not create jobs but the cash from their benefit checks prevents supermarkets and other retail outlets from having to lay off workers.

Shadegg also repeated the demonstrably false claim that the wealthy people who have received the Bush tax breaks are “job creators.” These wealthy folks — whom Republicans spin as “small business owners” — have had these tax breaks for 10 years. So here’s a question for these millionaire small-business owners: Where are the jobs?

What could make a group of politicians — especially pols who campaign as promoters of “Christian values” — behave so heartlessly? What would make them so eager to vote to make their own constituents penniless?

During the midterm campaigns, GOP Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell repeatedly described the single plank in his party’s platform for the next two years this way: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Other times he described undercutting the president as the Republicans’ “top priority.”

Not jobs, not cutting the deficit, not tax cuts for the wealthy nor even denying benefits to the unemployed — the “single most important thing” Republicans are doing now and will do until November 2012 is work to undermine the president of the United States.

In service to his party’s top priority, Shadegg went on “Morning Joe” armed with carefully rehearsed debate points, ready to do what Republicans do best — forcefully make arguments that are false and empty sound ironclad and irrefutable in order to convince listeners that lies are the truth.

But it really wasn’t Shadegg’s audacious lying that was remarkable — you can see that 24/7 on Fox — it was his swagger, the near-giddiness with which he consigned 2 million unemployed Americans to the wolves at the same time that he was demanding tax breaks for people so wealthy they don’t need to work.

What Shadegg’s bravado telegraphed is that Republicans are so confident about their position that they don’t feel the need to feign compassion, to cloak themselves in false piety.

In poker terms, Shadegg’s glee is a “tell.” When Republicans put this sort of unctuous certitude on display, it’s a sign they have started to believe their own spin and are misjudging the public support for their position. We’ve seen it before — in the lead-up to their shutting down the government in 1995, when they impeached Pres. Clinton in 1998, and in days before the Supreme Court ruled on Bush v. Gore in 2000. During the run-up to George Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq, Republicans’ misplaced certitude turned ugly when they started questioning the patriotism of anyone who doubted their claims about Saddam’s WMD stockpiles, his inquiries about Nigerian yellow cake or his nuclear-armed drones capable of flying 7,000 miles from Baghdad to Miami.

It’s a small comfort that it’s Republicans, not Democrats, who end up paying a political price for their over-reaching. The public blamed Speaker Newt Gingrich, not Pres. Clinton, for the government shutdown. Pres. Clinton’s approval ratings rose to the mid-sixties during the impeachment and remained there for the rest of his term. Voter remorse kicked in within months after Bush, not Al Gore, was inaugurated — Bush received a boost in popularity after the 9/11 attacks but eventually became the least popular president in the history of presidential polling.

After Bush invaded Iraq, Americans quickly learned that his pretexts for the war were all false — that either he had lied to them about the danger posed by Iraq or he’d taken the nation to war based on bad intelligence, making him the most incompetent commander-in-chief the United States has ever had.

Unfortunately, it’s the American people, not Republicans or Democrats in Washington, who pay the real price for the GOP’s serial over-reaching. In every instance of it, by the time the truth behind has been revealed, the damage has been done — and none have paid a bigger price for Republican over-reach than the needless sacrifice of the thousands of military personnel who were killed and wounded in Iraq.

It appears now that we’re about to experience deja vu all over again. Republicans are poised to upend the lives of 2 million people in order to score political points now, ignoring the fact that these unemployed Americans are not just voters, they are these same Republican pols’ constituents.

Another indicator that Republicans are in over-reach mode is that they’re ignoring the optics of kicking folks who are already down at the shank of the holiday season. Can you spell G.R.I.N.C.H.?

And talk about a war on Christmas!

It doesn’t require psychic ability or even a keen sense of political science to predict blow back from the public if Republicans go through with this. What’s truly depressing, though, is that, as before, by the time there is a reckoning, the damage to the 2 million jobless Americans and their families will already have been done.

Transcript from MSNBC (including edits, corrections):

BILL BARNICLE: Congressman, please forgive me, but I’m kind of an economic illiterate, but I keep hearing from some Republicans they would vote for extension of unemployment benefits that are to expire today if those unemployment benefits are paid for, yet these same Republicans say they will vote to extend all the Bush tax cuts when those are unpaid for. My question to you is in this lame duck session that we’re approaching, would you vote for the extension of unemployment benefits right now, today, up or down, yes or no?

REP. JOHN SHADEGG, R-ARIZ.: If they were paid for and if we extend the tax cuts. The issue is jobs. Come on! The american people sent this message pretty clearly. They want us focused getting this economy going. I’m sorry you can’t see that helping people with unemployment and not enacting massive new tax increases, which will damage the job creation market are linked. they make sense together. Of course, Republicans don’t want to tax the job creators because that will bring revenue down. Increasing — you cite me an economist who says increasing taxes in a down economy is a good idea. I’m waiting.

BARNICLE: What about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy. Immediate.

SHADEGG: No, they’re not. Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.

BARNICLE: Unemployed people spend money, Congressman, because they have no money.

SHADEGG: Ah — Ah — So your answer is it’s the spending of money that drives the economy. I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drive the economy.

BARNICLE: But if you spend money in a variety store –

SHADEGG: Actually, the truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can. Job creators create jobs. If you want to unburden the economy –

BARNICLE: You ever been unemployed?

SHADEGG: Yes, I have.

BARNICLE: Did you save it?

SHADEGG: Matter of fact, I will be. In about 32 days, I will be unemployed and I’ve been unemployed in the past. The issue is do we want to continue to do what the current administration or the current congress has done, which is ignore the issue of jobs and increase taxes and not focus on the needs of the American people or do we want to try something that might work, like not increasing taxes on the economy? This is a tax increase in a down economy. I still didn’t hear you name the economist who says it’s a good idea to raise taxes in a down economy.

BARNICLE: I don’t trust economists. They got us into this trouble to begin with. Let’s go back to what you said about unemployment checks. Unemployment checks, people don’t spend that money?

SHADEGG: No. They will spend as little as they can because they’ll hold on to it as long as they can. In reality, they don’t create jobs. You still haven’t told me how unemployed people create jobs. Your answer is, I don’t trust economists. Look, we’ve been doing what you proposed we continue to do, raising unemployment and extending that.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: John Shadegg, John, John, don’t be personal here. we know you’re going to be unemployed and everybody knows — Here’s the thing. People don’t know that this S.OB. act of your is just a routine.

Note that Shadegg deploys an ancient rhetorical device:  He states propositions that have a patina of truth but lead to false conclusions.

Poor people do spend as little as possible — but it is impossible for almost all of them to save because they must spend all they receive merely to make ends meet.

Job-creators do create jobs.  Tautologies are often true.

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