Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT…. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd chatted with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) by this morning, and to his credit, Todd raised a question many in the media haven’t bothered to ask.

TODD: Yesterday, the Census came out and said one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line. Do you look at that story today — you know, you open up your USA Today, right, and you see that story — and you see Washington is debating the tax rates for the wealthy, and you sit there and say, isn’t that a disconnect in America right now?

BAYH: It is a disconnect, Chuck. What we need to be focused on is growth, how do we create jobs, how do we expand businesses. That needs to be job one right now. And all these other issues involving, oh, fairness and things like that can wait.

Oh, for crying out loud.

In 2009, at the end of nearly a decade of conservative governance that ravaged the country, 43.6 million Americans found themselves in poverty, the highest number since the government started keeping track more than a half-century ago. The number of Americans without health insurance went from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009. We’re in the midst of a jobs crisis, and those who are employed are working more for less.

But “fairness and things like that can wait”? What does that even mean? Pulling people out of poverty and strengthening a safety net isn’t a matter of “fairness” necessarily; it’s a matter of strengthening the country and giving working families a chance to get ahead.

Is he saying income inequality — the worst since before the Great Depression — is unimportant? At least not as important as $700 billion in tax breaks for people who don’t need them and won’t spend them?

Bayh said “we need to be focused on is growth, how do we create jobs, how do we expand businesses.” That’s not an unreasonable position, but if the conservative Democrat means this, why would he side with Republicans on tax breaks for the rich that don’t grow the economy, don’t create jobs, and don’t expand businesses? For that matter, why has Bayh spent so much time arguing that deficit reduction and spending cuts are so important, when those undermine growth and job creation.

I realize that Bayh, rather than work on issues he claims to care about, is walking away. I also realize that he’s very likely to be replaced with a corporate lobbyist who’ll be considerably worse on every issue I can think of.

But having said that, I can’t say I’m going to miss Bayh’s misplaced priorities and his habit of reinforcing patently false Republican talking points.