Frank Rich: ‘Heady with hubris’ teabags will shut it down again (plus, Koch Brothers Coup in DC)

Frank Rich does what he’s doing a lot of lately; he weaves two columns into one. Both virtual columns are worth reading, but they need to be teased apart.

In the first “column” (the first strand of his interwoven two), Rich considers whether the Teabags in Congress will shut the government down like their Contract-on-America counterparts did in 1995. He concludes that while 1995 was a GOP disaster, they think this time will be different:

Rather hilariously, the Republicans’ political gurus still believe that Gingrich’s ruse can work. In a manifesto titled “How the G.O.P. Can Win the Budget Battle” published in The Wall Street Journal last week, Fred Barnes of Fox News put it this way: “Bragging about painful but necessary cuts to Medicare scares people. Stressing the goal of saving Medicare won’t.” But the G.O.P. is trotting out one new political strategy this time. Current House leaders, mindful that their ’95 counterparts’ bravado backfired, constantly reiterate that they are “not looking for a government shutdown,” as Paul Ryan puts it. They seem to believe that if they repeat this locution often enough it will inoculate them from blame should a shutdown happen anyway — when, presumably, they are not looking.

Rich offers other evidence of the coming disaster, including the fact that “much of the Beltway press has bought the line that comparisons between then and now are superficial.” Sounds like they’re encouraging the Congressional Teabags to go for it.

Rich, of course, thinks this will be another disaster, mainly because of the state of the economy. Killing support from government just when most people — including our eagerly-duped teabag cousins — most need it, almost guarantees that dreaded W-shaped recovery. Get ready. Seriously; get ready.

But it’s Rich’s second strand I want to focus on, since it echoes a theme we touched on earlier, when considering the Koch Brothers Coup in Wisconsin. Rich documents the unspoken obvious — that Washington is Wisconsin on steroids. The Republican budget proposal is a cesspool of sucking to the super-rich, Kochs included (my emphasis below):

In this bigger picture, the Wisconsin governor’s fawning 20-minute phone conversation with a prankster impersonating the oil billionaire David Koch last week, while entertaining, is merely a footnote. … Look to Washington for the bigger story. As The Los Angeles Times recently reported, Koch Industries and its employees form the largest bloc of oil and gas industry donors to members of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee, topping even Exxon Mobil. And what do they get for that largess? As a down payment, the House budget bill not only reduces financing for the Environmental Protection Agency but also prohibits its regulation of greenhouse gases.

Here again, the dollars that will be saved are minute in terms of the federal deficit, but the payoff to Koch interests from a weakened E.P.A. is priceless. The same dynamic is at play in the House’s reduced spending for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (charged with regulation of the esoteric Wall Street derivatives that greased the financial crisis). The reduction in the deficit will be minimal, but the bottom lines for the Kochs and their peers, especially on Wall Street, will swell.

These special interests will stay in the closet next week when the Tea Partiers in the House argue (as the Gingrich cohort once did) that their only agenda is old-fashioned fiscal prudence.

The Koch Brothers Coup — has a nice ring to it. Coming to a sad dying superpower near you.

My take: I’m saddened to bring the blindingly obvious to the unseeing (present company excepted, of course). It’s literally the least I can do, which leads me to this.

Isn’t it also obvious that, as the Billionaires Coup gets closer and closer to victory, their hubris brings them closer and closer to killing the cow they’re milking?

I don’t think that answer is in question. They really are flirting with killing the country. (Well, they’re probably well past “flirting”; the roofie’s been administered, teabag-style.) Frank Rich’s column makes exactly this point, if obliquely.

So which is it? Have the super-rich decided they don’t need America any more? Or are they just so in love with Supply Side Jesus that they don’t know they’re burning the house down with them inside?

In other words, when this country becomes a faltering second-world economy with a useful first-world military, have the super-rich prepared their financial escape? Do the rich really need the rest of us?

In my view, this is the right question, the only one without an obvious answer. But stay tuned; people have started looking at this in earnest, as have I.

GP


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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