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Kelly Picks a Fight: John Boehner & Crew

Kelly Picks a Fight: John Boehner & Crew

I'm so riled up over the recalcitrant shenanigans by the Republicans on this stimulus package that I could spit... on John Boehner's shoe. They lost by such huge margins in the past two elections, yet they have the nerve to keep professing that they know what the people want. Their confabulation about tax cuts is unwarranted and misguided. Economists across the board say so.

The Economic Policy Institute created a chart showing the bang generated for every buck of stimulus money. As you can see, the return on dollars spent on things like Food Stamps, Unemployment Benefits and infrastructure spending far surpasses that of tax cuts. Far. And yet tax cuts comprise one-third of the stimulus package with only 18% going to infrastructure.

stimulus1.jpg

When you think about it like I have, the fuzzy math is pretty clear. For the millions of unemployed workers, a tax cut does nothing. For the millions of debt-laden families, a tax cut pays down their debt a wee bit. For the millions of solvent-but-not-well-off families, a tax cut boosts their savings a little. Those are solid facts, right there. CNN did a poll last year about the tax rebate checks and found that a mere 21% of Americans planned on actually spending their rebate compared to the 41% who would pay down debt and the 32% who would put it into savings. And those stats were before the worst of the crisis was upon us.

When you deduct those groups from the American population, the people who are left are the well-off families who have no debt and plenty of savings. More than likely, they are the 3% that told CNN they would give the money to charity. To me that means they didn't need the tax rebate to begin with and, therefore, don't really need a tax cut now. And, honestly, while paying down debt and boosting savings are both good things to do, neither helps our ailing economy so I would prefer to have that money spent in higher-yielding ways.

So why are the Republicans displaying such hubris in the face of both facts and electoral losses? Well, one hypothesis I heard posed the other night made more sense to me than most. The idea is that if the GOP weakens the stimulus bill enough, it won't work and the Dems will take the fall for it. Basically, they are playing craps with the U.S. – if not the global – economy in hopes of looking good on the back end.

So, then, why are President Obama and the Democrats so concerned about getting the Repugs on board? I keep hearing talk about Americans wanting bipartisan cooperation and Obama needing to preserve political capital. You know what? Like Rep. Peter DeFazio from Oregon, I'm all for cooperation when the other side is right (or even reasonable) about the matter at hand, but not when they are flat wrong and simply clinging to avarice out of habit at the expense of the rest of us. And political capital will mean very little if we don't turn this mess around.

As always, Rachel Maddow covered the whole mess in a comprehensive, easy-to-understand manner: