In 2006 Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy adviser to President Reagan and a treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, wrote a book “Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy” in which he leveled the accusation that the Bush administration wasn’t true to established conservative economic principles (of course, neither was Reagan). He is also on the record as having (correctly) blamed the Great Recession on Bush and the Republican Party, a little fact all our Republican presidential hopefuls – including self-proclaimed jobs guru Rick Perry – find inconvenient and therefore to be denied.
Writing in August 2009 he said:
Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.
Now he is calling Rick Perry an idiot because of what Rick Perry said about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
“I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion,” Perry said Monday in Iowa. He stood by his comments Tuesday.
Watch the video from CNN:
“Rick Perry’s an idiot, and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that,” Bartlett said Friday on CNN’s “American Morning.”
All well and good, but Bartlett then missteps when he accuses President Obama of not filling open seats on the Federal Reserve:
“But the thing is the politics of the fed itself are really a more serious problem…One problem has been historically that the president has not focused on the fed. He has had open seats on the fed almost his entire presidency and I think that this sends a signal that he just doesn’t really care very much about what the fed does.”
What Bartlett ignores is GOP obstructionism in Obama’s efforts to appoint anyone to anything, including the Fed.In the same article in which he blasted Bush and the Republicans for the Great Recession he made this point: “Because the president appoints the board, he has primary influence over its policies.” But the Republicans won’t let Obama appoint people to the board, will they?
Look what The Nation correspondent Ari Melber has to say about this situation recently on MSNBC:
ARI MELBER: Most of you know Congress just left for vacation. Normally when Congress is on recess, the president can make recess appointments to advance nominees that have been obstructed, but it turns out Congress is not really on recess. Republicans are holding symbolic sessions during their entire vacation in order to prevent recess appointments. This is just the latest ploy in a long obstruction campaign by the GOP.
Since Obama came into office, Republicans have blocked an unprecedented number of nominees from ever getting a vote. Take judicial nominees. Republicans have blocked almost half of the nominees for judicial nominations, the worst obstruction rate in U.S. history. And the targets aren’t random, either. GOP obstruction has hindered female and minority nominees the most.
Here’s a disturbing statistic from the People for the American Way, and I’m quoting now: “Every district court nominee with unanimous opposition from the Senate Judiciary committee Republicans has been a woman or a person of color.” You know, people forget that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was first nominated to an appeals court back in the day by President Clinton, but Republicans wouldn’t allow her a vote on that nomination. Then, when President Obama nominated her to be the third woman to ever serve on our high court, the same Republicans complained she didn’t have the experience as a judge — even though they were the ones who kept her off the bench.
And meanwhile, nominees for jobs shaping economic policy – obviously the No. 1 issue in this country – have been totally shut down. Obama nominated Nobel economist Peter Diamond to the Federal Reserve Board over a year ago. Republicans filibustered, he was renominated two more times, and he ultimately withdrew in disgust.
The top spot at the famous Consumer Protection Bureau remains empty. Republicans even brazenly blocked votes on nominees for the Board of Protection commissioner at the Homeland Security department and the head of Industry and Security at the Commerce department. Both of those posts were finally filled through recess appointments last year, but it’s only gotten worse.
This week, White House officials openly said they need Tim Geithner to extend his term as Treasury Secretary, in part because Republicans would filibuster a vote on his replacement.
Look, you don’t fight unemployment by trying to shut down one of the most important jobs on the president’s economic team. The solution is pretty simple — Senator Reid and President Obama should call the Senate back in session now, in this hot August summer. They should refuse to adjourn until there are votes on all these nominees. They can use quorum calls, break the silent filibuster that most Americans don’t even know is happening, and they can keep every member working seven days a week and refuse to adjourn unless it’s for a real old-school recess – you know, when recess appointments are on the table.
Just imagine the president speaking to the nation about making government work again instead of just pleading for compromise with his tormentors. Imagine him seizing the initiative on a concrete action plan, and imagine him making a case for an American government based on the people who want to serve our government, to run our schools, protect our borders and put our people back to work. It says a lot about this Congress that they found a way to hinder government and recovery even while they’re on vacation. Well look, let’s bring these guys back to Washington.
MATT MILLER: Ari Melber, great point. And also, what it does is echo the fact for those who say there’s an equivalence between Republican and Democratic responsibility aren’t looking hard enough at what the GOP is doing to block progress in a number of these areas. We’ll have to pick that conversation up another time. Ari, terrific rant.
But it’s not just Nobel Prize-winning economists who are blocked, not just the big-name guys who have to pass muster; Senate confirmation is required for more than 400 executive and judicial branch posts and according to the White House, at the end of June there were 200 waiting for a hearing and a vote we know they will likely not get.
If government is dysfunctional, we don’t have to look far afield for the reasons why. The House has failed to act at all except in punitive fashion against Obama and against women and minorities and the poor (when they’re not legislating to make corporations and the rich richer) and Republicans in the Senate filibuster any appointment Obama tries to make. Bartlett is right that the Republicans caused the Great Recession. He is right that Rick Perry is an idiot. But he is wrong when he accuses Obama of signaling that he doesn’t care. The folks who don’t care are the same ones who caused the problem in the first place.