Carroll County Times

John Culleton: GOP continues on destructive path

The sequester was supposed to be a mechanism so drastic that no one would stand by and let it go into effect. But it didn't take into account the basic motivation of the Republicans in Congress.

President Barack Obama, for all his brilliance, has a blind spot. He refuses to recognize that the Republicans want only to reduce the size of the government workforce and reduce the taxes on the wealthy. Nothing else matters. In fact, an economic decline would be to their political advantage. And the sequester is costing jobs every day.

European nations fell into an economic trough, just as we did.

Several of those countries, particularly the United Kingdom and the nations adjoining the Mediterranean, chose to adopt drastic austerity measures. But that made the economic situation even worse, which in turn cut down on tax revenue and made their debt situation worse as well.

But nations of northern Europe, like Germany, chose the opposite tactic. They made investments designed to stimulate economic activity. They developed government and industrial partnerships. They are pulling out of recession, and their major problem is immigration. The people of the more southern nations are flocking to where the jobs are.

Faced with this clear example of what works and what doesn't, the Republicans chose the destructive path of austerity rather than the constructive path of investment. Obama simply doesn't grasp that they would be that stupid and/or that unpatriotic.

Defeating his re-election is no longer a motivation. But defeating his likely Democratic successor, Hillary Clinton, has replaced that failed objective. The sequester will cost millions of jobs. That will hurt the economy. And that helps the Republicans in their quest to return to power in the White House.

That quest is unlikely to succeed, because no candidate who could work his or her way through the tea party dominated Republican primaries could possibly be elected.

The sensible Republicans have lost control. Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush, or Gerald Ford, or Richard Nixon couldn't get nominated today even if any of them were in their prime. Whatever their faults, the destruction of the nation's economy would be too high a price for any of them to pay for winning a presidential election. But for the current Republican leadership, no price is too high for the nation to endure so long as they got partisan advantage in the next election.

Obama is a conciliatory person, and that is his fatal flaw. Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare, and thus it is designed to keep the insurance companies prosperous. But even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, whose common sense and innate patriotism occasionally overcome his partisanship, has stated that the only sensible alternative is a single payer system.

Obama, as usual, compromised in advance, and ruled out even a public option. Given the much lower overhead cost of programs like Medicare when compared to the profit-oriented corporate insurance giants, a public option would over time turn into effectively a single payer system. The most efficient vendor would take over the marketplace.

But Obamacare is burdened with the inefficiencies and greed of the private insurers, and so the Republicans attack it as being considerably less than perfect. It is noteworthy, however, that they have no workable alternative to offer.

In addition to crippling the economy with the sequester and attacking Obamacare on the basis of its Romneycare-based inefficiencies, the Republicans are trying to make some political hay out of the death of four U.S. citizens in Benghazi.

It appears that State Department staff asked for more help from the Defense Department and the people in that agency found reasons why they couldn't provide help on time. True to form, the Republicans refused to call any witnesses from Defense. They didn't want the facts to interfere with their campaign against Hillary Clinton. It is four deaths in Libya versus 4,000 in Iraq. You do the political math.