January 28, 2009

Time to Side-Step the Obstructionists and the Mis-Informed

Over the past two days, more than 60,000 jobs have been eliminated by companies like Sprint (8,000), Home Depot (7,000), Texas Instruments (6,000) and Caterpillar (20,000), making it abundantly clear that the recession is plowing on, and that the economy has yet to bottom out. But as President Obama and Congressional Democrats work to pass an $825 billion stimulus package, it has been equally clear that the Republican opposition is intent on waging an ideological war for their party's universal cure-all: tax cuts. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains however, it is spending that is needed; not more tax cuts:
Let’s lay out the basics here. Other things equal, public investment is a much better way to provide economic stimulus than tax cuts, for two reasons. First, if the government spends money, that money is spent, helping support demand, whereas tax cuts may be largely saved. So public investment offers more bang for the buck. Second, public investment leaves something of value behind when the stimulus is over.
But what about tax cuts as long-term strategy? GOP Congressman Dave Camp, for one, says that he believes they must be part of our planning for the years to come:
“The planning for 2010 in a business sense is happening now,” said Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan. “So it isn’t too soon to talk about making permanent the Bush tax cuts.”

Mr. Camp, who serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, added: “I think that has to be part of the discussion. It can’t simply be what gets us through the next quarter. It has to be what gets us through the next decade.”
That certainly seems reasonable - even proactive - so let's look at the effects of tax cuts over the past two administrations and see what the data actually tells us. Since 1992, the largest increase in employment to population ratio (the percentage of the populace that has a job) occurred after President Clinton's tax increases of 1993. By contrast, President George W. Bush's tax cuts - the very hallmark of his administration - appear to have reduced employment if they have had any effect at all:

In fact, by any objective measure of their effect on job creation, the Bush tax cuts were a miserable failure, not only missing their stated goals, but, it can be argued, making things worse:

But if tax cuts can't be tied directly to stronger employment, isn't it true that they are the foundation of pro-growth economics? Actually, not so much. Author Larry Beinhart decided that he'd check into the accepted wisdom of tax cuts, and found some very startling things:
  • Large income tax cuts are followed by a bubble and then a crash.
  • High income taxes correlate with economic growth.
  • Income tax increases are followed by economic growth.
  • Moderate income tax cuts are followed by a flat economy.
  • All of this is especially true as applied to the top tax rates, the amount paid on income that exceeds the highest bracket.
Mr. Beinhart describes his results in the following manner:
These are the brute facts.

I call them that because there doesn't appear to be any theory to explain them.

A noted conservative (a sane one, not William Kristol) recently wrote to me in a private eMail exchange on this subject:

"I am unaware of any (or many) respectable economists (maybe I've missed some) who have suggested that higher taxes have proved to be a formula for better economic growth."

Actually, I am too.

Even now, in the midst of the Bush disaster, I constantly see and hear tax cuts, particularly at the top, described as "pro-growth." So I went and looked at the numbers - tax rates, tax cuts and tax hikes - and placed them alongside job growth, the Dow Jones, growth in the GDP and median income.

The brute facts say the opposite of the myth.
I realize that this will be controversial, but data is data - we're not (or we shouldn't be) arguing philosophy. If tax cuts don't effectively boost the economy in the short term, as we desperately need any stimulus to do, and if they aren't linked to employment growth, or longer-term success, why are we still talking about them? For that matter, why are we still listening to Republicans when it comes to economic policy?

As the New York Times demonstrates in a review of economic performance across Democratic and Republican administrations, we probably shouldn't be. Looking at metrics for gross domestic product (GDP), treasury debt, inflation, S&P 500 performance and employment, it is undeniable that the country has very simply done better under Democratic stewardship than it has with Republicans at the helm. (Click each chart to enlarge. Originals here.)

What then of Republicans in Washington? Right wing performance artist Rush Limbaugh, for instance, has made it clear that he believes conservative true believers should want President Obama to fail. Unquestionably, there is some percentage of Republicans in government who feel the same way, and who will obstruct Mr. Obama's recovery efforts at every turn, no matter what the consequences to the country. In the meantime, members of the opposition working in good faith - but who genuinely believe that tax cuts are the right thing to do both now and in the future - are wholly unsupported by historical data or an understanding of economics, and cannot be relied upon to contribute to a solution.

The president is to be lauded for his efforts to heal America's political rifts, but if only as a matter of pure pragmatism, now is no time to risk the interests of the nation in the service of obstructionist ideologues and the chronically misinformed. Mr. Obama will need to act quickly, with or without Republican support, and we must hope he learns that lesson sooner, rather than later.

January 23, 2009

Letting Police Incompetence Trump Individual Rights

Somewhat overlooked in last week's pre-inauguration fervor was a very significant ruling from the Supreme Court, in the case Herring v. United States (*.pdf). In a 5-4 split led by Bush appointee and Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court upheld the conviction of Bennie Dean Herring on federal drug and gun charges, finding that evidence discovered after his arrest, which was based on incorrect information from police files, could still be used against him.

The exclusionary rule, a principle of constitutional law rooted in the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable search and seizure, has long maintained that evidence obtained illegally - either intentionally or through negligence - should be suppressed. The Herring decision significantly diminishes that legal protection. From the New York Times article on the ruling:
Bennie Dean Herring was arrested on what the Coffee County, Alabama sheriff's department thought was a valid warrant from a neighboring county. It turned out that the warrant for Herring's arrest had been recalled five months earlier.

Herring argued that police negligence should automatically lead to the suppression of evidence found after an unjustified arrest.

But Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court, said the evidence may be used ''when police mistakes are the result of negligence such as that described here, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements.''
Fans of movies in which righteous cops chase down criminals who have escaped justice because a judge invalidated evidence based on a "technicality" might think this is a good thing. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted in her dissent, however, this ruling "leaves Herring, and others like him, with no remedy for violations of their constitutional rights."

For law-abiding citizens, that might not seem important, but what is so often lost in debates about decisions like this is that the ultimate goal of the exclusionary rule is not to prohibit the use of evidence obtained by improper searches in court, but to ban the bad searches themselves. While the focus is usually on whether criminals go free because evidence needed to convict them is inappropriately acquired, the real issue is that discouraging the police from conducting improper searches is designed to safeguard the innocent, not the guilty.

If law enforcement does not have an incentive like the exclusionary rule, which is intended to ensure that all searches and seizures - not some, or most, but all - are reasonable and proper, then they lack an incentive to exercise care in whom they search and why they search them. Worse, the Herring ruling opens up the very real possibility that unscrupulous or lazy police officers might simply stage errors to provide cover for themselves in improper searches such as this one from Indiana in 2007:

Now, you might agree with the sheriff's deputy in the video above, or find the camera man unlikable or annoying, but the man who made the tape is totally, 100% within his rights. You might also feel that the health inspector should be allowed to do her job or that she has just cause for being on the videographer's property, but again, the man with the camera is completely correct that she has no right whatsoever to enter his property. The Bill of Rights is not designed for the convenience of the state; it is designed for the protection of the citizenry.

The fact of the matter is that there are very clear procedures for obtaining a search warrant. If there is insufficient evidence to support a warrant - or if law enforcement personnel can't be bothered to get one or to properly process one, as in the Herring case - that should mean that no search is performed, and any evidence obtained without a warrant, without genuine probable cause or through improper means - should be suppressed. Without that protection, the opportunity for police harassment is enormously expanded, and suborning individual rights to police incompetence holds potential for the massive abuse of authority by law enforcement agencies and personnel.

January 19, 2009

George W. Bush: A Man Who Must Never Be Forgotten

Tuesday marks the end of the administration of President George Walker Bush. As has become traditional, during the closing weeks of his final term, Mr. Bush has sat for a number of interviews, given a farewell press conference, and even assembled a document entitled "100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration Record" (*.pdf) devoted to the topic of his legacy. The press, so often cowed and ineffective during the last 8 years, has been either indifferent or - continuing the pathetic fiction that "balance" means giving equal weight to both sides of an argument, no matter how clearly counter-factual one side may be - inclined to ask, in all seriousness no less, if George Bush will be remembered as a good president or a bad one.

President Bush's defenders note that he targeted aid to Africa, that he acted to conserve vast swaths of ocean territory, and that he "kept us safe" after the attacks of September 11, 2001. At first blush, these claims do indeed seem positive, but of these arguments for our outgoing chief executive, only marine conservation withstands more than the briefest scrutiny, especially when balanced against the genuinely staggering record of failure, venality, stupidity, arrogance and corruption that has been assembled by the White House since 2000.

While Mr. Bush poured money into African nations, he did so in a manner that supported all manner of despots and dictators and made programs to combat AIDS dependent on ineffective and ideologically-driven abstinence education. With regard to 9/11, one need only reflect that, not only has no link between the Bush Administration's policies and actions ever been established in preventing further terrorist attacks on the United States, but the anthrax mailings took place after September 11th and have never been solved.

More importantly still, the Clinton White House left clear warnings about al-Qaeda as they turned over the reins of power, and Mr. Bush's then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice ignored a presidential daily briefing called Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S. just weeks before aircraft were flown into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. It is no stretch to say that Mr. Bush completely failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the first attack by foreign terrorists on American soil, and he should be remembered more for that than any alleged successful defense of the homeland in the wake of 9/11.

President Bush's Approval Rating

Chart showing George Bush approval data from 2001 to the end of 2008

The simple fact is that George W. Bush is leaving office with the lowest approval rating of any president - including Nixon - ever recorded, and with very, very good reason. In this article at Salon, for instance, experts in seven fields quantify the toll in terms of dollars lost, lives forfeit, damage that will need to be undone, and ground that will have to be made up across the economy, infrastructure, Iraq, human rights, health care, Hurricane Katrina and climate change. On balance - even considering his best efforts in certain areas - Mr. Bush has cut a path of unprecedented destruction across the United States and the world.

In an effort to address attempts to put a shine on Mr. Bush's resume - and perhaps taking a cue from the presidential daily briefing fiasco - the excellent Jon Swift eviscerates arguments that President Bush has been a positive force for much of anything, summing up the 43rd president's record thus:
But of all the reviews of the Bush legacy that I have read, none has come close to nailing the historical importance of George W. Bush in the way that William Rivers Pitt does in a truly outstanding column entitled The Greatest Greatness of George W. Bush. (Please read the whole thing - I recommend it highly.) Mr. Pitt makes a compelling case for the way in which we must remember this president:
We the people are going to save you from ignominious oblivion. We will remember. You could be the president who doomed America, the worst president of all time, but we must not, will not let that happen. You will be remembered differently, because we will hold the memory of you high, and behold you, and say, "Never, never, never again." We have tasted the soot and smelled the blood on the wind; we have seen how fragile our way of government is when placed in the hands of low men such as you, and because of that, you will be remembered for all time.

Your greatness will be defined by how we rise to overcome and undo what you have done. Your greatness will stand forever if we never, ever forget the hard, bitter lessons you taught us. We are responsible for this republic, for our Constitution, and for each other. We are our brother's keeper. You taught us that by becoming our Cain. You nearly slew us, but here we stand, and we defy the place in history you would relegate us to. We defy you, and by doing so, we rise.

Something like you must never again be allowed to happen to this country, and if we save ourselves by preventing you from ever happening again, your greatness is assured. You are the tallest of all possible warnings, and a promise all of us must solemnly and stalwartly keep. If we can damn you to the past, we will save our own future.

May you live forever, you son of a bitch.
From where I sit, that could not be more on target. For at some point down the road - just as occurred with Richard Nixon - there will be an effort to rehabilitate the image, the actions - and yes, the legacy - of George W. Bush, and that must not be allowed to happen. Not out of feelings of anger or resentment - though they be entirely justified - but because America cannot withstand another president like him.

President-elect Obama is on a whistle-stop journey to his inauguration, and in Baltimore, he had this to say:

And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.
If it took the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush to remind us of what is really important, and to forge the circumstances that have brought us the opportunity for a truly promising leader like Barack Obama, then some good will indeed have come from the last eight years. Because as my father often says, no man is total failure; he can always be held up as a bad example.

Still not convinced that the country has suffered mightily at the hands of George W. Bush? Keith Olbermann runs through the last eight years in eight minutes, below.

January 14, 2009

The GDP Smokescreen

Chart of Growth in U.S.Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The Fall 2008 issue of Cornell Enterprise, a publication of Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, features a very interesting article on not only the shortcomings of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of our national health, but some potential alternatives for gaining a clearer picture of where we actually stand as a country. Even more revealingly, it provides metrics that more accurately describe the relative strength of the United States at this point in its history, as well as in relation to other countries.

Gross Domestic Product first arose as a useful measurement during the Great Depression, a time prior to which no national metric for economic well-being was in use. Today, it is one of the most closely-observed and widely-quoted metrics around the world, and beyond its simple function to provide a tally of all cash-based, legitimate business activity, it has come to serve as a gauge of both overall prosperity and general happiness. Unfortunately, GDP has some serious limitations.

First, it isn't particularly accurate:

While the Gross Domestic Product is supposed to measure the total output of goods and services, it doesn't, and probably can't, says Karel Mertens, assistant professor of economics at Cornell.

For instance, GDP doesn't count the work of spouses who stay at home taking care of kids and cooking meals. But if the same family were to spend money on a nanny and carry-out from Burger King, the GDP would go up. Barter isn't counted either. If a mechanic changes the oil in his barber's car in return for a haircut, the GDP is static. If they pay each other, the GDP goes up.

Nor does the GDP count transactions in the murky black market, where stolen goods are marketed and consumers stock up on everything from bootleg DVDs to moonshine whiskey.
And second, a strong GDP figure is in no way an assurance of societal or even economic health:
Community activist Jonathan Rowe, who testified before the Senate Commerce Committee this year, defined the GDP as "a big statistical pot that includes all the money spent in a given period of time. If the pot is bigger than it was the previous quarter, then you cheer. The money could be going to cancer treatment or casinos, violent videos, or usurious credit card rates. . . . The money in the pot could betoken social and environmental breakdown — misery and distress of all kinds. It makes no difference. You don't ask. All you want to know is the total amount, which is the GDP."
While the U.S. now ranks 8th in the world in per capita GDP (down from second) - which is at least a top 10 showing but hardly a podium finish - other indicators of our national development are even more disturbing. The United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI), for instance, combines factors for life expectancy, education and literacy and purchasing power. The United States ranks fifteenth overall - behind Australia - and the individual components of HDI are even more alarming: the U.S. is 20th in education, trailing Slovenia; and 31st in life expectancy, just edging Cuba.

Similar alternative measures like the Institute for Innovation in Social Policy's Index of Social Health (ISH), which tracks sixteen indicators of societal strength, also reveal that, overall, America has actually lost ground in the decades since the 1970s:

Likewise, the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) includes per capita GDP, but also subsumes such factors as long-term environmental damage, crime, pollution, dependence on foreign assets and income distribution. Although GPI shows more uniform progress than ISH, when it is compared to per capita Gross Domestic Product, GDP's capacity for overstating national health is clearly revealed. While American GDP climbed sevenfold during the last half of the 20th century, in marked contrast, GPI increased significantly less than half as much, and most of that rise occurred prior to 1970.

Given the entrenched usage of Gross Domestic Product, it is unlikely that it will disappear as an important indicator of economic strength anytime soon. While it is unclear what modifications to GDP are most important - or even upon which agreement can be reached - when discussing the social health of the United States, metrics like HDI, ISH and GPI need to be considered.
"The GDP is a very crude, one-size-fits-all measure," says Stuart Hart, Samuel C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise and professor of management. "It measures total economic activity regardless of the result of that activity. At the end of the day, if the GDP is your metric, then we're going to go over the cliff."

In fact, the U.S. has found itself dangling over the precipice despite a growing GDP. Consider recent events. On August 28, the Commerce Department announced the GDP had grown at a healthy 3.3 percent clip in spring and early summer, more than three times the anemic pace of the winter months. Hopeful investors pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by more than 200 points by day's end.

Then the dominoes began to topple. Within a month, the government took control of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Bank of America agreed to buy troubled Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers went under, the government bailed out insurance giant AIG, bank regulators seized Washington Mutual, and Congress agreed on a $700 billion bailout package for financial firms to try to stop the chaos. Meanwhile, the housing crisis and unemployment worsened.

"No one can question that the GDP has been growing," says Hart. "But what's the point?"
Be sure to keep that in mind the next time anyone tries to use GDP growth to sell you on the alleged strength of the economy during the first seven years of the Bush Administration.

For more, here is a short clip from an interview with Professor Robert H. Frank, one of the country's foremost thinkers on the relationship between economics and society. (And an instructor I was lucky enough to have as both an undergraduate and a graduate student!)

January 10, 2009

Closer Than We'd Like to Think

Although political leaders have not been shy in noting the very grave state of the U.S. economy, much care has been taken to distance the current downturn from the Great Depression of the 1930s. Key to that faint reassurance has been the comparison between unemployment rates then - which were around 25% at their worst - and joblessness today, which has surged past seven percent nationally, as of December figures announced on Friday.

Unfortunately, an article from Reuters points out that, in reality, even this cold comfort is denied us:
"We are in a very, very different place than the U.S. economy was in the 1930s," James Poterba, president of the National Bureau of Economic Research told a recent Reuters Summit.

Or are we? Figures collected for Reuters by John Williams, from the electronic newsletter Shadowstats.com, suggest that, while we are not there yet, the comparison is not as outlandish as it might initially seem.

By his count, if unemployment were still tallied the way it was in the 1930s, today's jobless rate would be closer to 16.5 percent - more than double the stated rate.

"I expect that unemployment in the current downturn, which will be particularly deep and protracted, eventually will rival, if not top, the 25 percent seen in the Great Depression," Williams said.

He and other critics have one particular sticking point with the current way of measuring unemployment: the treatment of discouraged workers.

Under President Lyndon Johnson, the government decided individuals who had stopped looking for work for more than a year were no longer part of the labor force. This dramatically decreased the jobless rate reported by the government.
It may well be that removing "discouraged workers" from the final tally makes sense - that it's the best way to express the state of "true" joblessness. Unfortunately, that wasn't the way it was done back in FDR's day, and from an unemployment perspective, that fact renders meaningless any distance between nominal rates then and now. We are a lot closer to the dire circumstances of the Great Depression than most people had thought, and in any discussion of President Bush's legacy and the merits of his administration, this cannot be forgiven or forgotten.

January 6, 2009

No Time to Cater to Hypocrites

Republicans, who never once tried to pare back President George W. Bush's rampant, irresponsible, off-budget spending for his misadventure in Iraq, are suddenly portraying themselves as the guardians of taxpayer money now that the country is in dire need of fiscal stimulus, and President-elect Obama's plan to shore up the economy with public sector spending is center stage. Although there is perhaps some merit to the idea that the GOP is trying to "reclaim its brand" in the wake of sweeping electoral defeats in November 2008, the fact that it is the same old hacks and political thugs declaring themselves born-again reformers reveals this posturing to be nothing more than a sham.

Let's be perfectly clear: After the walloping the Republican Party took in the last election, men like House Minority Leader John Boehner and his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell have nothing to gain and everything to lose if Team Obama is successful in righting the ship of state that they and the Bush Administration ran aground. As Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia Center of Politics notes, “Their job is to sit and wait to see if Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress fail. Not a very good option, but that’s what it amounts to.” If Mr. Obama's "New New Deal" economic stimulus plan cushions the effects of the current deep recession, the very economic ideology on which Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell have staked their political lives will have had the final nail driven into its coffin.

And if you think that's exaggeration, consider the newest conservative talking point making the rounds (and if you are a student of either history or economics, hold onto your jaws to keep them off the floor): Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies actually extended the Great Depression. It's popped up everywhere from small blogs, to new books masquerading as reputable history, and the most crackpot advocates of this theory are even going one better, claiming that FDR's policies that the New Deal didn't have any positive effect, or even that they caused the Depression - never mind that it began in 1929 before he had even assumed the presidency.

To be frank, this is utter nonsense, as detailed in a short, but excellent article by David Sirota at Salon:

On deeper examination, I discovered that the right bases its New Deal revisionism on the short-lived recession in a year straddling 1937 and 1938. But that was four years into Roosevelt's term - four years marked by spectacular economic growth. Additionally, the fleeting decline happened not because of the New Deal's spending programs, but because Roosevelt momentarily listened to conservatives and backed off them. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937-38, FDR "was persuaded to balance the budget" and "cut spending and the economy went back down again."

To be sure, you can credibly argue that the New Deal had its share of problems. But overall, the numbers prove it helped - rather than hurt -- the macroeconomy. "Excepting 1937-1938, unemployment fell each year of Roosevelt's first two terms [while] the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent," writes University of California historian Eric Rauchway.

What about the New Deal's most "massive government intervention" - its financial regulations? Did they prolong the Great Depression in ways the official data didn't detect?


According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "Only with the New Deal's rehabilitation of the financial system in 1933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression." In fact, even famed conservative economist Milton Friedman admitted that the New Deal's Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). was "the structural change most conducive to monetary stability since ... the Civil War."

OK - if the verifiable evidence proves the New Deal did not prolong the Depression, what about historians - do they "pretty much agree" on the opposite?

Again, no.

As Newsweek's Daniel Gross reports, "One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression."

But if there is one thing that eight years of George W. Bush should have taught us, it's that rightwing talking points don't get generated by the grassroots; they are messaged, with discipline, from the top down, especially when they are as fact-free as this one, and that matters intensely in the battle for public perception. Stung already by a slapdash financial sector bailout from the Bush Administration that has been administered without meaningful oversight or accountability, taxpayers are justifiably gun shy when it comes to shelling out hundreds of billions more of their dollars.

President-elect Obama has already declared that oversight will be a key element of his plan, vowing to ban all legislative earmarks in order to maximize its effectiveness. This is as it should be, but in recent days, he has also begun talking about sourcing as much as $300 billion of his proposed $775 billion stimulus package from tax cuts rather than new government expenditure. From a budget perspective, tax cuts are no different from deficit spending, but they are widely divergent in their effects. As Paul Krugman puts it:
Let’s lay out the basics here. Other things equal, public investment is a much better way to provide economic stimulus than tax cuts, for two reasons. First, if the government spends money, that money is spent, helping support demand, whereas tax cuts may be largely saved. So public investment offers more bang for the buck. Second, public investment leaves something of value behind when the stimulus is over.
There are good reasons - namely speed-of-implementation - for including tax cuts along with public spending, but the proportion being reported - approximately 40% - is both out of whack and alarming in its implications for any success from the stimulus package. In a separate article, Mr. Krugman has a detailed explanation for those with an economic bent, but it boils down to the fact that depending this much on tax cuts in lieu of spending will almost certainly doom the stimulus to - at best - mediocre results:

And that gets us to politics. This really does look like a plan that falls well short of what advocates of strong stimulus were hoping for — and it seems as if that was done in order to win Republican votes. Yet even if the plan gets the hoped-for 80 votes in the Senate, which seems doubtful, responsibility for the plan’s perceived failure, if it’s spun that way, will be placed on Democrats.

I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we’re talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says “See, government spending doesn’t work.”

Bluntly, this is no time to be anything less than bold, and it is no time to cater to the likes of hypocrites like Mitch McConnell or John Boehner. Let's hope that the incoming Obama Administration team sees past its own rhetoric of bipartisanship to do what needs to be done.