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Hoyer Can't Handle Questions

davidswanson's picture

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer spoke Tuesday morning in a large private room (the Columbus Room) at Union Station in Washington, D.C. and took questions. He had no answers for the questions I put to him.

Hoyer's topic was fiscal responsibility, and he said that his proposals -- which were all pure vagueness -- would be appropriate to enact "as soon as the economy is fully recovered." Don't hold your breath.

Hoyer, as is the custom, bragged about cutting and trying to cut particular weapons systems. So I asked him how he could have neglected to mention two closely related points (as is the custom):

1-He's been increasing the overall military budget.
2-He's been funding the escalation of war completely off the books.

He replied that all such issues should be "on the table." But he did not explain his failure to put them there or suggest how he would act on them.

None of the assembled Washington Press Corpse followed up.

But two people did ask good questions about why in the world he would want to go after Social Security or Medicare. One guy asked why we couldn't go after Wall Street instead. Hoyer mumbled about passing regulatory reform, and blamed Bush.

Hoyer repeatedly deferred to the president. In fact, he said that if the president's commission on the deficit produces any recommendations, and if the Senate passes them, he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will put them on the floor for a vote -- no matter what they might be.

Later Hoyer informed us that only a president can stop spending. I spoke up and asked him "If you don't pass it, how does the President sign it?" He stared back at me like a donkey in the headlights. He said nothing.

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madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Thanks for the on-the-ground reporting.

It seems like Obama does, in fact, know quite well how to lead, and that Congress is blindly following him. It seems like Obama is not, in fact, the naive neophyte being misled and poorly-advised by "bad apples" in the Democratic Party. It seems like electing "more and better Dems!" will do nothing, because the leadership is committed to obeying Obama's every command.

Golly gee wilikers.

Maybe Obama is just a bad person who does bad things.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

Hoyer and the rest of the DC leadership is in such a bubble, your questions completely blindsided him. A pity they've forgotten (or had never heard) of the great economist Bill Vickrey:

This then is the goal I lay before you. Real full employment, at levels higher than have been experienced in peace-time over at least the last century, is to be reached within two or three years and maintained thereafter, with magnificent results not only in increased output and income, but reduced poverty, ill-health, drug abuse, crime, and commitment to the maintenance of a useless military superfluity. But to do this we have to toss out our shibboleths of budget balancing, puritanical abstinence, maintaining the value of the almighty dollar and servicing a "favorable" balance of trade, and instead focus our attention on the real resources, human and material, that we have on hand and figure out how to use them effectively to produce real welfare...

For too long we have unquestioningly allowed numbers on books of account to control our lives. Such accounts have their place, but when they are allowed to compel us to tolerate the wastage of human resources and all the concomitant social problems that unemployment provokes, we must look at the "real" side of the coin. William Jennings Bryan used to conclude his stock campaign oration with "you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." today we might say "we must stop shooting ourselves in the foot with a blunderbuss of financial rectitude."