Friday, February 14, 2014


Paul Krugman writes:
... when it comes to Americans down on their luck, conservatives become ... advocates of highly intrusive government. For example, House Republicans tried to introduce a provision into the farm bill that would have allowed states to mandate drug testing for food stamp recipients. (A commenter on my blog suggested mandatory drug tests for employees of too-big-to-fail financial institutions, which receive large implicit subsidies. Now that would really cause a panic.)
Why doesn't someone on our side actually try to get that drug-tests-for-bankers proposal enacted into law? Why isn't this actually introduced as a bill or an amendment?

Republicans love to inject the politics of resentment into the legislative process. It isn't just demanding drug tests for poor receivers of benefits. It isn't just that Kansas bill that tells newly legalized gay couples that anyone in the state can legally refuse them service. It's this:
That was some spread Barack and Michelle Obama put out the other night for Fran├žois Hollande....

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis wants to know what example the White House is setting with a 2,500-calorie dinner (with 153 grams of fat to boot). Because that's a day's worth of calories the USDA recommends for an average man. And it's three times the calories the USDA allows American students in the school lunch program....

In response, Davis has introduced a bill requiring that all White House meals, from staff cafeterias to state dinners, follow the same USDA rules the government now imposes on the nation's schools....
Yeah, that's right: You have the president of a country that's a major U.S. ally coming to a White House state dinner, a special event that's the approximate equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner for an ordinary person, and the White House isn't supposed to splurge on the calories a little bit, according to this bill.

Is the bill going to pass? No. But it's out there. It's being talked about on the right -- I quoted the New York Post editorial, but it's also a topic at Fox News and The Washington Times and the Daily Caller and so on and so on.

Where's our comparable Two-Minutes' Hate? Hey, Bernie Sanders, propose a drug-tests-for-bankers bill. Then ... well, where's our noise machine? Other elected liberals? MSNBC prime time? Stewart and Colbert? Blogs?

Angry venting on the right, broadcast through multiple media streams, builds tribal solidarity. The constant reinforcement of that tribal solidarity is a big part of why Republicans win so many non-presidential elections. We could use a little resentment, too.


aimai said...

I agree with this, Steve. In fact I was just kind of alluding to this issue in a discussion over at Lawyer's Guns and Money. There is a win/win aspect to the Kansas law which is that 1) its agressive and in your face for christianists to push their dogma through what they see as "their" legislative system. 2) to the extent that outsiders like the federal government, the ACLU, and liberals rage against it or push back or even overturn it then the reaction itself becomes a cause of re-victimization and re-affirmation of tribal identity.

I would absolutely celebrate Democrats introducing laws like "prevention of drug abuse among bankers" on behalf of the shareholders. No distribution of bonuses at all to people who aren't drug tested regularly.

But I do think the right wing has hte advantage of us because a sense of being a "persecuted hegemon"--a revelling in imagined slights and hatreds, is such a component part of their political identity. And they have a massive hectoring/lecturing/explaining media presence to shape their understanding of these issues so that they never really feel like htey are losing.

The New York Crank said...

While we're at it, how about a bill that applies the same nutrition guidelines to Senate and House dining rooms, and to meals purchased by the legislators and their staffs that are put on expense accounts?

In fact, how about a rule that any legislator who introduces an alternative to Obamacare must first place him/herself and their family on that insurance for five years?

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Victor said...

How about a bill where Atheists and Agnostics don't have to serve or deal with Fundamentalists of ALL religions, in any capacity, because fundamentalism is against our core belief system - and especially, the not serve the obnoxious Christian ones?

Unknown said...

Tater tots and veggie burgers for visiting diplomats, like Reagan would have wanted!!

Unknown said...

And don't forget that ketchup counts as the vegetable!

Jules said...


The GOP has been overrun by a bunch of very dimwitted and egotistical people who couldn't introduce a decent bill if you threatened to stake them out on a fire ant's hill.

They do these things because it the best they can do. They resent being asked to do any work at all, so they toss out bills based on the last thing they heard Rush say and then back to letting lobbyists wash their balls.

As an added bonus, they can go home and whine to their carefully gerrymandered constituents. "Waaah, mean old DemoncRATS blocked all my lovely bills. Vote for me again."

I wouldn't tolerate that shit for five seconds from my CongressCritters.

Raymond Smith said...

I would support a Bill that requires all members of Congress have to pass a breath test for alcohol and urine test for drugs prior to voting on any proposed legislation.
This just might help them make some type of decision.

L also propose that all members of Congress are put on a salary that is based on the amount of days they work per year. Thus for full salary must work a 5 day 40 hour week.

Unknown said...

The trouble would be in convincing anyone that Democrats are crazy enough to want such legislation to pass. Republicans don't have that problem.

Procopius said...

I really favor a law requiring weekly drug testing of all management level employees of the six largest "banking institutions" (because who knows what a "bank" is any more) and definitely daily drug testing for all managers of hedge funds. Random monthly tests for all other employees. Results must be negative before they are allowed to begin trading You know, from "Bonfire Of The Vanities" to "Liars' Poker" I've read dozens of stories about how widespread the use of cocaine is at those places. If The Drug War was a serious effort to reduce drug use, those would be the places to start.