Ben Bernanke, former Bush appointee to Federal Reserve Chairman and former Princeton Economics professor slammed modern Republican economic policies in his new memoir. According to Bernanke, a life-long Republican, the far-right extremism that has taken over the Republican Party in the name of extreme conservatism: “It’s the stupid economics.…[they] saw inflation where it did not exist and, when the official data did not bear out their predictions, invoked conspiracy theories. They denied that monetary or fiscal policy could support job growth, while still working to direct federal spending to their own districts. They advocated discredited monetary systems, like the gold standard.”
Chad Stone, chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, agrees, saying that “Bernanke’s right; these views aren’t conservative – they’re kooky.” Republicans shut down the government in 2013 over disputes regarding the debt limit and the size of our national deficit. They held the raising of the debt ceiling hostage in a desperate attempt to
reduce government debt derail President Obama’s progressive agenda – a 16-day-long shutdown that is estimated to have cost our economy $24 billion and incalculable damage to the Republican brand. This easily preventable economic instability during a fragile recovery led Bernanke to condemn the Republican “fiscal policymakers, [who] far from helping the economy, appeared to be actively working to hinder it…it is like a family running up large credit card bills and then refusing to pay.” Something we may be able to forgive our neighbors for, but not our elected representatives — “nothing justifies taking the economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt limit.”
Bernanke notes that “continual run-ins with hard-right Republicans – such as noted Fed critic Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman – gradually pushed him away from the party that first put him in charge of the Fed in 2006, adding that “I tried to listen carefully and accept thoughtful criticisms…But it seemed to me that the crisis had helped to radicalize large parts of the Republican Party.”
There is a litany of recent events that illustrate Bernanke’s and Stone’s beliefs about the continued craziness and radicalization that now represent the Republican Party. As a political party, Republicans refuse to display any sense of responsibility by continuing to threaten the economy and the American people. Failing to learn their lesson, once again the Republicans are threatening to shut down the government over the discredited phony Planned Parenthood videos unless the organization, which provides healthcare services to millions of women and men, was defunded.
The Republicans overwhelmingly lost this battle in Congress, but had they succeeded, they had no problem with the fact that 46 million Americans could have gone hungry. The loss ultimately led to the resignation of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), who ran into opposition from the small but powerful fringe group in his own party, the forty members of the so-called “Freedom Caucus”, over his lack of willingness to shut down the government – again.
Given the radical crazy behavior that has become the GOP, one of the last moderate Republicans is giving up on the party for good. “I lost patience with Republicans’ susceptibility to the know-nothing-ism of the far right. I didn’t leave the Republican Party. I felt that the party left me.”
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.