Hey!  We got the first food safety reform in 80 years yesterday!  There’s now less chance (for example) that your child will become ill or die of food poisoning.

And we got such a strong launch of the Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell debate yesterday (see below), it’s hard to believe a few Republicans won’t come along to get this done, too.

True, the Republicans yesterday blocked the extension of unemployment benefits – they refuse to help families desperate to feed their kids unless we also help small business owners like the Koch billionaires.  (Read on.)

And, true, they plan to block the renewal of the START treaty, even though former Republican Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker along with the ranking Republican on of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, strongly urge support.

But I inherited the happy gene, and I think we’re going to get those through, too, along with extension of tax cuts on income below $250,000.

We’ll see.

As maddeningly difficult as the Republicans have made it, and as angry and disappointed as so many people are . . . on the one hand, because they don’t see our problems as having been 30 years’ in the making and partly our own fault for over-consuming and under-taxing; and on the other, more immediate, hand, because they don’t accept that Obama is not king, and that 60 Senate votes really are required to pass any legislation (and 67 to ratify a treaty) . . . there is actually quite a lot to feel pretty good about as the second year of the Obama presidency winds down.

We avoided a depression and business is slowly coming back; we made a good start at reforming the health care system after 80 years of trying; we enacted meaningful financial reform, credit card reform, education reform, and tobacco regulation; we regained much of our lost standing in the world and signed a treaty with Russia decommissioning 700 more nukes on each side; we encouraged stem cell research and seeded dozens of potential home-run alternative energy innovations; passed the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act and the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation.  Our 2010 deficit came in lower than the 2009 deficit we were handed (the 2009 fiscal year started October, 2008, even before Obama was elected); and, by end-running a Republican filibuster, we’ve managed to set up, by Executive Order, a bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission that had actually been a Republican proposal until Obama signed on to it, to start getting the budget far closer to balance (just as President Clinton, swimming against the Republican tax-cuts-for-the-rich tide, did).

And look at this good news:

The TARP was castigated as a $700 billion bailout.  In fact, per the CBO, it’s turning out to have been more like a $25 billion bailout.

(In that regard, I commend to you Hank Paulson’s On the Brink, recounting the events leading up to and following the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse and near meltdown of the global financial system.  He gives high praise to President Bush and to Congress, especially my friend Barney Frank, for doing what needed to be done.  I think you will be hard-pressed to come away thinking that he and his colleagues failed to serve their country well, or that he had any conscious or subconscious desire to see his former rival Lehman Brothers fail.*)

*Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail tells much the same tale through different eyes.

And the auto bailout worked, too!  (See Steve Rattner’s Overhaul, another example of government intervention that most Republicans opposed – working, in this case to save hundreds of thousands of jobs at what will ultimately be little or no cost to the taxpayer.)

And so today, I am, at once:

. . . going out of my mind at the way the Republicans are insisting we borrow $70 billion a year to extend tax cuts on income above $250,000 (even as they decry the giant National Debt that Reagan, Bush and Bush left us with) – and pretending this is smart economics (see below);

. . . truly saddened at all the good incumbents who were thrown out of office last month (and fearful of the consequences);

. . . and yet, at the same time, awfully proud of the enormous amount Obama and his team have accomplished, even though they, and most of the readers of this page, wish it had been even more.

SMALL BUSINESS

Rob Brown:  “I marvel at the irrationality of extending tax cuts to the over $250K income crowd, especially for the stated reasons of the proponents.  I meant to write a couple of months back after seeing an Olbermann segment re the ‘small business’ issue.   The gist was that the definition being used for ‘small business’ included S Corporations.  The de facto definition resolved to:  small business meant ‘a small number of owners.’  They showcased a number of examples of huge S-Corp companies that no one would ever associate with the small business category.   My favorite: Bechtel, the largest construction company in the US.

☞  Other small business owners: the billionaire Koch brothers, who financed much of the Republican electoral success. The Republicans are absolutely determined to borrow the money from the Chinese or whoever will lend it to us to extend the tax cuts on income above $250,000. They claim it’s simply to help “small business” – “the job creators” – but as has been noted over and over, that’s just a crock. (I beg you again: if you disagree, please click and scroll down to items #1-#5 under Mitch McConnell.)

GO AHEAD – TELL

I’m sure you’ve heard the news . . . and I’m sure John McCain is still trying to thwart the will of the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a majority of the American people . . . but here it is, from the just-released report:

Based on all we saw and heard, our assessment is that, when coupled with the prompt implementation of the recommendations we offer below, the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low.  We conclude that, while a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will likely, in the short term, bring about some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention, we do not believe this disruption will be widespread or long-lasting, and can be adequately addressed by the recommendations we offer below.  Longer term, with a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism, and respect for all, we are convinced that the U.S. military can adjust and accommodate this change, just as it has others in history.

☞  Amen.

 

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