Archive for February, 2010

It’s not hypocrisy. It’s lying.

February 22, 2010

Democrats and many in the media are accusing the Republicans in Congress of hypocrisy in opposing the stimulus package and then asking for money for their districts from the stimulus funds.  This is not actually hypocrisy on the part of the Republicans and can be viewed as reasonable.  One could argue that it is a bad idea for the US to go into even more debt to create temporary jobs; but given that the US is going to go into more debt, everyone wants their share.  Wanting a share of money that shouldn’t be spent at all is as American as apple pie.  (However, it is hypocritical for a Congressman to consider any government spending to be wasteful unless it is in his or her district or state.  But this type of hypocrisy is so common in Congress that it is hardly worth mentioning.)

On the other hand, many Republicans in Congress are arguing that the stimulus bill did not create any new private sector jobs at the same time that they are going to ribbon cutting ceremonies and touting their role in getting stimulus money that leads to new jobs.  This position is not hypocrisy.  It is lying.  They are either lying to their constituents at the ribbon cutting ceremonies or they are lying when they say that the stimulus is not working.  Possibly, they are lying both times.

On a side note, ex-Governor Mitt Romney said that the stimulus “did not create any net new jobs other than in government.”  He was not lying.  He was just being totally sleazy by inserting the word “net” where it did not belong and where it would cause confusion.  This is not to say that Romney doesn’t routinely lie.  It is just to say that he prefers being sleazy to lying when given a choice.

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The game theoretic advantage goes to the Republicans

February 8, 2010

Pundits have asked themselves why it is so difficult for the Democrats to get things done even with 60 votes in the Senate, whereas the Republicans seem to do just fine with 50 votes in the Senate.  I suspect that there are a number of reasons for this.  But one reason that deserves mentioning is that Democrats believe in the importance of the federal government, and Republicans believe in the importance of thwarting Democrats.

Consider the following table, which illustrates the values to Democrats and Republicans when the Democrats are in majorities in Congress.

When Democrats control congress

keep government going

gridlock

Republicans 1 9
Democrats 9 1

The numbers are made up.  But the key element is that Republicans would rather see nothing done at all than seriously compromise with the Democrats to pass legislation.

On the other hand, consider the reverse situation in which Republicans are in charge.

When Republicans control Congress

keep government going gridlock
Republicans 7 3
Democrats 7 3

Here the Democrats really don’t want government to shut down, and they are willing to go far more than half way to meet the Republicans.  In this case, even the Republicans are willing to compromise a little.  For example, the Republicans were willing to greatly increase the National debt under Bush rather than having permanent gridlock so long as the wealthiest Americans could get a tax cut and Bush was able to start two wars; however, on other important issues such as having two ultra-conservative judges appointed to the Supreme Court, they stood by their principles and were even willing to get rid of filibusters.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, except perhaps that is sucks to be a Democrat.