I don't see the Park51 controversy as a mere distraction from the country's "real" issues of unemployment and economic trouble. What matters more than our nation's tradition of religious and political freedom? But it's clear to me that the "mosque" issue is this August's version of last August's "death panels" – another faux-Fox controversy manufactured by divisive right-wingers to keep us from focusing on our country's serious problems.
What would Republicans do without the "mosque" flap, if they had to vigorously defend, in detail, their economic program? Sunday on "Meet the Press," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was as preposterous as House Minority Leader John Boehner on the same show two weeks ago, blustering about having to account for how much extending the Bush tax cuts for the megarich – set to expire in 2011 -- will deepen the deficit. Just as Boehner sputtered and refused to answer repeatedly, then blamed "this Washington game and their funny accounting" for the vexing fact that protecting the megarich will add $3.2 trillion to the deficit, so did McConnell obfuscate. "Why did it all of a sudden become something that we, quote, 'pay for'?" McConnell asked host David Gregory, calling the tax cuts "existing tax policy."
It's hard to believe the entire country doesn't remember (with outrage) that Republicans under George W. Bush didn't have the courage to make the tax cuts permanent when they passed them in 2001. Phasing the cuts out in 2011 masked the enormous hit to the federal budget, and also ensured the GOP could pass them via reconciliation, with a simple majority. (Remember how Bolshevik that idea was when the Democrats proposed using it for healthcare reform?)
I also don't understand why, if as the Republicans claim, these tax cuts are the secret to job growth, two Bush terms only saw the number of jobs grow by 1.1 million, when jobs grew by 22.7 million under Bill Clinton, at the same time that taxes on the rich were higher. And that's according to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact.com, which fact-checked a Bush-Clinton job-growth comparison made by liberal Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, and found he was wrong – he actually overestimated job growth under Bush.)
Oh, another McConnell whopper: He praised the Tea Party, saying "It's been entirely positive," even though of course Tea Party candidate Rand Paul defeated McConnell's handpicked choice for Kentucky's open Senate seat, Trey Greyson. It's becoming routine to see these "mainstream Republicans" lie about the Bush record, play to their fringe and squirm.
I discussed GOP lies about tax cuts and jobs on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Monday. Here's the video: