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Audio: Frank Rich on the Debt Deal “Disaster”

| August 3, 2011
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Nine Bay Area Democrats voted for the final debt-ceiling legislation that President Obama and Republicans painfully hammered out, and five voted yes, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The yeses were reluctant yeses, the nos were hell-nos. For instance…

From Barbara Lee:

“Enough is enough. We cannot allow the extreme Tea Party Republicans to advance their agenda to dismantle our government by rewarding their extreme tactics with this bad deal.”

From Pete Stark:

“We are in the midst of a completely manufactured crisis that was orchestrated by this extreme faction of the Republican Party. They are a minority in Congress and in our nation, yet they are holding our nation’s economy hostage because Republican leadership continues to pander to them at the detriment of our country and its future.”

From George Miller:

“Congress has been taken over by the right wing of the Republican Party, the Tea Party wing that has a radical agenda to end Medicare, cut Social Security and slash health care for the elderly and the poor. Their goal is not deficit reduction. But deficit reduction is being used as the weapon to cut these critical commitments that are so fundamental to our society.”

As for President Obama, he continues to draw raving-mad reviews from liberals on what’s being characterized as his capitulation to Republicans. Along those lines, the erstwhile New York Times and current New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich today appeared on KQED Radio’s Forum program, and was asked by host Michael Krasny exactly what he thought about the whole thing.

“Um,” Rich began. “I think it’s a disaster.”

Listen to the interview or read the transcript below the audio file.

Frank Rich criticizes Obama and the debt deal

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First of all it’s a disaster for the country because the fact remains a lot of people are suffering through unemployment, losing their houses. We have a stagnant recovery, virtually no growth. We have a federal government that has no coherent or any plans to deal with what’s going wrong. And then we have, as many have noted, a bill that accomplishes very little except renewing the debt ceiling, which should have been an automatic mechanism anyway. So that fake problem was solved. And on top of that we have something that is going to induce short-term spending cuts at a time when we need money in this economy to drive the move toward jobs.

The embarrassing spectacle of what played out in Washington, I don’t have to pile on there, everyone knows it was an absolute farce, regardless of one’s political views, and everyone behaved essentially like a child. Obama I guess did not behave like a child, he behaved like an adult, as if that were its own reward. But I feel he did not lead, and he’s bought into this idea that somehow he can win the next election by convincing this vague group of people in the middle, independent voters, that he’s the only adult in the room. Well that and a quarter won’t get you a subway fare. And I think he’s done himself a tremendous amount of damage. The best thing he has going for him is the divisions in the Republican party and the lunatics that have taken over the asylum down there.

But his own base in many ways is very disillusioned, so he’s caused a real schism there hasn’t he?

He has, but it’s hard to picture that anyone in his base is going to vote for Mitt romeny or a Michelle Bachmann. That said, it could very well dampen turnout and enthusiasm. It’s not as if young voters and African American voters are going to vote for the opposition, but they might just stay home. I think this administration has this magical belief that he can in a campaign automatically re-create the grandeur and the excitement of the first time around. I’m not so convinced. I think it’s a form of magical thinking, and on the assumption unemployment is going to remain this high or close to it and that nothing is going to help Americans who are really hurting, that’s very bad for Obama.

Even if the Republicans don’t want to do a damn thing on their own to hope anyone — indeed they don’t — but you have a situation where the presumptive frontrunner in that party, Romney, is going around pretending to be Tom Joad; he’s acting as if he’s this great savior of working class America. He’s appearing before shuttered factories throughout the country, presenting himself as a jobs creator as Obama was not. In real life he was a venture capitalist who shredded jobs in companies that his company took over and broke up for parts. That he can get away with it at all is a problem for Obama because Romney is a total phony.

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Category: Economy, Politics

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  • Brad

    It is time to turn off KQED and Michael Krasny. When a drama critic is considered a reasonable commentator on anything other than drama, we have clearly turned the asylum over to the inmates. Frank Rich is not an economist, he is not a businessman, he is a bloviating narcissitic blowhard. The suggestion that raising the debt ceiling should be automatic because it was raised previously is to argue against all forms of innovation, on the one hand and to advocate that our representatives breach their fiduciary duty, on the other. If you are going to have commentary on an important topic, please get individuals of substance that can provide meaningful analysis rather that trivial invective