Kevin O'Brien

Tags ››› Kevin O'Brien
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Talks Of America's "Twilight" In Wake Of Obama's Re-election

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Deputy editorial page editor Kevin O'Brien used his weekly platform in the pages of The Cleveland Plain Dealer to parrot national conservatives by encouraging the Republican-led House of Representatives to continue its policies of obstruction and explaining that people who voted for President Obama are either socialists or consider the president to be a "fun fad." 

    In his November 7 column titled "It's twilight in America," O'Brien also argued that Obama is "bent on [America's] fundamental transformation" -- a prospect furthered by a "rogue Congress" that passed the president's healthcare bill in spite of "what was then popular." O'Brien called on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to continue acting as a "firewall" of obstructionism. He wrote (emphasis added):

    For the half of America that understands the peril in which their country stands, the House remains the firewall, just as it has been these last two years. And for at least two more years, the House will not let us down.

    It all seems the perfect recipe for gridlock, and gridlock probably will seem to be the result.

    But in this presidential term, nothing as healthy as gridlock will be achieved, because Barack Obama's re-election changes everything.

    Absent a miracle, the president will achieve the fundamental transformation he desires for America.

    The passage of Obamacare by a rogue Congress that ignored what was then the popular will has put this country on a course toward socialism and a different popular will.

    Given the chance to change that course with this election, Americans -- by a very thin margin in the popular vote -- declined.

    O'Brien also attempted to explain to readers exactly why voters would have chosen Obama over GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (emphasis added):

    Some declined because they just don't see a problem. For young voters, especially, Obama is a fun fad -- a celebrity president who promises them all sorts of wonderful things that are either free or that someone else will pay for. Many of them will come to their senses when they realize they're permanently worse off than their parents, but that will take time.

    Some declined because they actually see socialism as a desirable outcome. They have been fed the progressive line from kindergarten through graduate school, and they believe it sincerely. They also plan to be among the elites who, in a more enlightened country, will make the decisions for the rest of us. To them, Obama is a kindred spirit.

    Some declined because a bigger, more activist, more paternal government benefits them directly, either by employing them or by providing for them in other ways. Mitt Romney may not have been right about their numbers -- his off-the-cuff reference to 47 percent of the population was a little high -- but he was right about their existence, their political priorities and their strength in the voting booth.

    But I think most declined because they're simply afraid of what lies ahead. Rather than facing the problems of incipient fiscal calamity and sociocultural rot, they opted for more reassurances from an Obama-led Washington that all will be well if we just tax more and spend more.

    O'Brien's message to Ohioans echoes the themes national conservatives have been pushing since Election Night -- to encourage more GOP obstruction and to explain away Obama's re-election by dismissing half of the electorate as wards of the state or people who just want "free stuff."

    Meanwhile, editorial boards at Ohio newspapers in nearby Columbus and Toledo argued that the president won re-election because Republicans followed the conservative movement too far to the right. From the Toledo Blade:

    Republicans must step out of the shadows of the party's far-right wing. If the Tea Party continues to dictate the Republican Party's platform, the GOP not only will fail to broaden its base, but also will continue to alienate traditional, more moderate Republicans.

    And the Columbus Dispatch noted:

    Now it's time for responsible Republicans to take their party back from the fringe that loses them elections. It's not true that Republicans needed better candidates. They had excellent contenders. The problem was that the electable ones couldn't leap the lunacy barrier erected by the right wing.

  • Plain Dealer's Kevin O'Brien Pushes The Paul Ryan Budget While Ignoring Reality

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    In a March 22 column, Cleveland Plain Dealer editor Kevin O'Brien commenced a pedantic cheerleading session in support of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) controversial new budget plan. After glibly comparing Senate Democrats to preteen children, O'Brien argued that Ryan's infamously austere cuts "would not cut government far enough fast enough." Unfortunately, O'Brien's slash and burn philosophy of congressional budgeting ignores the real-world impact those cuts would have on fellow Ohioans.

    He wrote:

    If [Democrats] admit that entitlements are devouring revenues at an alarming and ever-increasing rate, they won't be able to demagogue Social Security and Medicare anymore.

    If they admit that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that they passed all by themselves isn't going to do the main things they promised -- save money and insure the uninsured -- they open themselves to accusations that they knew all along that it was a scam. And the accusations would be true.

    If they admit that they fully intend to just keep packing the nation's bedroom closet with debt until it explodes, the voters might punish them.

    So, no honesty, no discussion, no vote, no budget.

    Of course, O'Brien ignores the realities of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (PPACA) successes and the harsh human element of Ryan's plan. The PPACA is two years old, and according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, plenty of previously uninsured Ohioans are now covered as a result of the law. More than 2,000 Ohioans with pre-existing conditions are now covered, and more than 80,000 young adults in the state have gained coverage. The health care security of more than four million residents is no longer threatened by lifetime caps on their coverage.

    And as for entitlements, O'Brien doesn't tell his readers that under Ryan's budget (which again, he doesn't think goes far enough), more than 1.8 million vulnerable Ohioans will be at risk of losing food stamp benefits and slipping into hunger. This is according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which yesterday released a detailed look at how Ryan's budget would devastate children, seniors and people with disabilities. From the CBPP:

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan includes cuts in SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $133.5 billion -- more than 17 percent -- over the next ten years (2013-2022). [...]

    The overwhelming majority of SNAP households are families with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Almost three-quarters of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter are in households that include senior citizens or people with disabilities.

    By ignoring this grim picture, O'Brien hasn't simply missed the significance of the cuts. He's revealed volumes about where his priorities lie. As he noted:

    [A] budget isn't just a statement of spending and income expectations. It's also a statement of beliefs -- a numerical representation of what is important.

    A true statement, to be sure; and Mr. O'Brien's budget proposals reveal just what -- and who -- is important to him.