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There is no better argument against the "Democrats are no different than Republicans" canard than seeing someone attempt to defend it.

Today's exemplar is provided by Jon Walker of Firedoglake, who offers up this piece of analytical roadkill.   Mr. Walker does us all a good favor, by showing that the argument that that "Democrats=Republicans" is so weak that anyone buying it could not win a policy debate with a bowl of Cheerios.  Wear your asbestos goggles, because teh stupid burns below.

Mr. Walker provides us with the core of his argument:

There is great concern that the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives and even possibly the Senate in the 2010 elections. While most prognosticators are predicting huge wins for the Republican Party, their current seat deficit is so great that if they do win back the majority in the House, it will likely be by less than a dozen seats. If Democrats do manage to hold on to the House, it will likely also be with a very narrow majority. While I’ve been told with much hand waving to be very scared about the prospect of Speaker John Boehner, what no one in the Democratic party has legitimately explained to me–or the rest of America–is why we should care. . . be it Republicans or Democrats with narrow control of the House.

For the past two years, Democrats have at every turn repeated the completely fictitious "you need 60 votes in the Senate" myth to duck accountability and justify their wasteful corporate giveaways. Even if the Democrats do manage to hold on to the House and Senate, they will have only tiny majorities in both. With only 53 Democratic senators, there is no hope that Democrats can pass anything substantial–things on which they have already failed to act –as long as they are committed to giving the Republican minority some sort of quasi-parliamentary veto power.

On the flip side, there is no way Republicans can win the House and a 60-seat majority in the Senate (let alone the 67-vote majorities they would need to override an Obama veto). I’ve been told for two years a mere 59 Democrats in the Senate are powerless due to the filibuster; by this same logic, we have nothing to fear from Republican gains because they will never be able to get anything through a Democratic filibuster, and even if they do, Obama can veto it.

Democratic voters have no reason to vote for Democrats, or even much reason to vote against Republicans.

The Democratic leadership has made it clear that they can’t promise anything, even if voters do turn out to support them this November. And the last two years of accountability-dodging propaganda also makes fear mongering about a Republican-controlled House seem silly. Democrats in the Senate can (theoretically) stop legislation, either by majority vote or the much ballyhooed filibuster, and if not, Obama can veto it. Talk of how a segment of Republican candidates favors privatizing Social Security or eliminating Medicare does demonstrate that they are out of touch with mainstream America, but in all honesty there is zero possibility that either move would come about as a result of Republican action alone, with or without winning narrow control of the House.

There needs to be a tangible reason to support Democrats this cycle, and there just isn’t.

(emphasis in original)

Oh dear.  Where to begin?

Let us start with the US Constitution.

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

If Republicans take the House, they will have the absolute power to block any and all federal discretionary spending.  Their consent would be absolutely necessary to borrow money to finance any deficit spending.

In order to exercise this power, they don't need to worry about filibusters or vetoes.  They can just sit on their ass and do nothing.  And shutdown the entire federal government.

And, since Mr. Walker apparently can't read a history book and wasn't sentient during the 1990's, it bears noting that they did it within one calendar year of taking over the House in 1995.

Since Mr. Walker also doesn't read up on House Republicans these days, it also bears noting that they're planning on running that playbook again, with horrific consequences.

"It was a mess frankly, and devastating to the civil service," said Donna Shalala, who served as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the last government shutdown, which ran from December 16, 1995 through January 6, 1996. "It seems to me it's un-American."

"Almost all employees are sent home," says former Labor Department Secretary Robert Reich, who served alongside Shalala. "Most have no idea when they'll be paid again."

According to a 2004 report of the Congressional Research Service, "Government shutdowns have necessitated the furloughing of several hundred thousand federal employees and affect all sectors of the economy."

So what, Mr. Walker would likely ask (though this is supposition since he never thought of this in the first place).  The answer:

Shalala ran down the list of functions that would be stopped.

"Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements...welfare checks to the state, Medicaid checks to the state."

"HHS was given a lot of money for implementing the new health care plan, and it would be hard to do without the money," she added. Together, that one appropriation accounts for a huge amount of the federal budget, acording to Shalala. "[we're talking] almost half of the budget of the federal government. That's like close down the government."

During the 1995-1996 shutdown, according to CRS, "[n]New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance (information about the spread of diseases, such as AIDS and flu, were unavailable); hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped, resulting in 2,400 "Superfund" workers being sent home."

To make matters worse, the economy today is in much worse shape than it was in 15 years ago. The impact of employees out of work, and beneficiaries without checks, will hit the country much harder in the next year than it did under President Clinton. "It would stop all new enrollees into the [Social Security] system," Shalala said.

It would be Grover Norquist's wet dream, and it is likely to happen.  Disaster capitalism at its very worst.

Besides ruining the environment, the economy, hundreds of thousands of lives, and shredding the social safety net, what other bad things could flow from a Republican takeover?

Josh Marshall spells it out.

What I'm curious about, though, is whether the Dems are ready for the sheer, shuddering, really just deafening chorus of defeatism and ideological self-doubt Democrats are going to face on November 3rd. I've learned from experience that you simply cannot make logical, linear predictions about how these events will play out. I've also learned, as much as each partisan side likes to grouse about its own tough luck, that Dems have a much tougher time dealing with those moments. . . .

The headline will read "Angry Country Repudiates Obama Agenda, Embraces Small Government Conservative Values." And that will be the Times. Believe me, it won't be pretty.

In any case, a lot of folks are thinking, well, sure the Republicans take the House and maybe they even take the Senate. But Obama's got the veto pen and the big legislation has already been pushed through. And if they come after Social Security, c'mon, let them try: Obama can veto whatever they pass. And they'll kill themselves for 2012.

But all of this is based on the premise that the Democrats -- congressional leaders and the White House -- are going to be something like the same people on November 3rd as they were on November 1st. And a lot of painful history, the post-Scott Brown victory period being only the most recent example, says that's a very bad assumption.  

(emphasis in original)

It seems disingenuous for those who consider Barack Obama and Democrats to be spineless wimps who just want to suck up to Republicans to suggest that they wouldn't get rolled by a triumphant GOP returning to power with an electoral mandate.

Stupidity is the enemy of progress and progressives.  If anyone peddles stupidity trying to dampen progressive opposition to Republican rule, they're not on your side.


Since many simply refuse to acknowledge that Mr. Walker wrote the words in that article, please see this:

Given the Democrats’ Congressional paralysis of the last year, and Obama’s veto power, the fear mongering over sweeping Republican changes is baseless. I’ve heard only two legitimate policy cases for why a Democratic base would really not want Republicans to take the House this year.The first is that Obama is a secret conservative who will happily join a triumphant Speaker Boehner in passing the Republican platform. (Note: claiming your president is secretly excited to work against the party’s own platform is not a good way to increase base enthusiasm.) The second is that if Republicans control the House, Obama won’t be able to take a piss without Darrel Issa subpoenaing the urinal, making it impossible for Obama to get anything done. Sadly, this argument would resonate better if Obama had used his powers during some part of the current session to bypass Republican obstruction and advance progressive goals (like quickly putting Elizabeth Warren in charge of the CFPB, for instance).

Mr. Walker has apparently not heard any suggesting that the House Republicans could shutdown the government or defund programs they oppose.

Mr. Walker needs to start reading the news.

Originally posted to Geekesque on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 08:30 AM PDT.

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