Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5

From Professor Krugman, "Republicans Against Reality":

… How did the G.O.P. get to this point? On budget issues, the proximate source of the party's troubles lies in the decision to turn the formulation of fiscal policy over to a con man. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has always been a magic-asterisk kind of guy — someone who makes big claims about having a plan to slash deficits but refuses to spell out any of the all-important details… What's happening now is that the G.O.P. is trying to convert Mr. Ryan's big talk into actual legislation — and is finding, unsurprisingly, that it can't be done. Yet Republicans aren't willing to face up to that reality. Instead, they're just running away.

When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.

Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party's base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities — deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy.

At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told — for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don't do anything for people like them. (Don't let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can't get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to…

What makes this frightening is that Republicans do, in fact, have a majority in the House, so America can't be governed at all unless a sufficient number of those House Republicans are willing to face reality. And that quorum of reasonable Republicans may not exist.


Fox News's Chris Wallace challenged House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and the GOP-controlled House for failing to pass key appropriations before the government runs out of money in September, demanding to know why the party is wasting time holding its 40 Obamacare repeal vote and pursuing other highly partisan partisan measures.



Eric Cantor confirmed today that the House will neither vote on or debate the Senate immigration reform bill. He also confirmed that the House will vote on a "series of bills," indicating that they will follow a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.

The next few years going to be brutal on the GOP's approval rating.


N.C. Republicans Experiencing The Good Life

It'll be interesting to see where all the little Republican Congresscritters scurry off to during their well-unearned recess, but if this past week is any indication, the exclusive destinations for constituency outreach could be wondrously magical, like, The Carolina Country Club, which isn't as squalid as it sounds:


Think Progress:

$10,000 will buy you 12 tickets to a VIP reception honoring North Carolina lawmakers who just voted to tack abortion restrictions onto a motorcycle safety bill and to enact the most aggressive voter suppression law in the nation. Don't have that much money lying around? That's fine, the North Carolina Republican House Caucus Leadership fund is selling tickets to an upcoming country club fundraiser for as little as $150.

One group you probably will not see at this event, however, is black people.

That's because the venue for this Republican fundraiser, the Carolina County Club in Raleigh, NC, just admitted its first African American members this month. Their first black members, an energy executive and her husband, reportedly are the first black people admitted to the club in its entire 103-year history.

At least they're not there plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government, right?


Keeping Up With The Dow Joneses

The Dow and S&P 500 closed Friday at record highs.

The problem with this is the same as it's been since 1980, which is, of course, not very many people in this country actually own stock. And, since 2007, that number has been decimated:


52% of Americans currently claim to own stocks, including 401(k)s, down from 62% who claimed to have owned stock before the Bush economy crashed.

But here's the thing, out of that 52% of Americans, the wealthiest among us are continuing to choke the life out of the real economy until we're turning from blue, to purple and red states in the national face.

10 percent of Americans own 80 percent of the stocks in the United States.


The invisible hands around the necks of overworked/underpaid America isn't the government, it's as it has been since Reaganomics invaded our national sensibilities– a small minority of thieves and corporate welfare vampires who are siphoning off all the blood and sweat and tears of America, tying up their il-gotten gains in immoral Ponzi schemes, derivative speculation, environmental catastrophe, and hoarding it from the people who need it most– offshore, like some awaiting armada of corporate pirate ships sending ashore marauding scouts of lobbyists to destroy labor unions and rescind democratic redress for the looting of national wealth and resources– pillaging communities and the public commons, and leaving next to nothing for the beggar-hands of humanity's 'beacon.'

The president is out trying to rally the country for a fairer balance between wealth and poverty, and his plan is as it's always been.

Republicans have countered with the Keystone XL Pipeline and the midnight massacre of the American middle class.


Republicans recently attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection law for the 40th time, but why?

Because it gives women access to preventive health services and makes it illegal to charge women different rates than men?

Gives seniors access to cheaper drugs, free preventive care, and reforms Medicare Advantage?

Goes after waste and fraud in Medicare?

Protects the 1-2 Americans who have a pre-existing condition?

Reduces the growth in national healthcare spending?

Or perhaps it's because 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are related to medical bills, and one of the many ways in which this law changes that is the abolishment of lifetime caps on life-saving measures and mandates that you pay no more than 8% of your annual income on health insurance? Maybe it's because Republicans have an affinity toward the indefinite sickening and bankrupting of Americans?


• Takes measures to prevent all types of discrimination in regards to your right to health care, including discrimination based on gender, income, and health issues.

• Reforms and expands Medicaid to an estimated 15 million of our nation's poorest. That's 6.1 million less than the last estimate due to States opting-out out of providing coverage, despite 100% federal funding for the first 3 years and 90% thereafter.

• Provides $20 billion in tax credits for as many as 4 million Small Businesses to offset the cost of purchasing insurance on the Health Insurance Exchanges.

• Improves community health care centers.

• Prevents "price gauging" by hospitals.

Without healthcare reform America will continue to suffer the consequences of a health care system controlled by private companies, whose bottom line is money and not health.

That last part is telling. How many presidents do we know of who signed off on policy and backed it up with statements that effectively kick open the doors of health insurance corporations and pumps a shotgun in the name of taking back our freedom and dignity?


Last month, Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, as government officials,pressured the NFL to back out of a tentative public service agreement that would have helped educate the public on the benefits of the ACA, which, oddly enough, is the type of government interference, or threat of government retaliation in the private sector that Republicans are always accusing this administration of, portraying them in the mainstream press as nothing short of unAmerican scoundrels. There is, officially, no moral, or ethical compass left in the GOP.

So, as Republicans continue to purposefully keep America in the dark, ignorant of the importance of this law, although patience seems to be winning the day, despite media efforts to muddy the debate and allow the GOP to go on virtually unobstructed in their intellectually-violent endeavors, it behooves the GOP to continue to threaten to shut down government over implementation of this law because when it's all said and done, this is the clearest path we've ever had to realizing universal healthcare in this country. Can't have that.


From the Washington Post:

FANCY FARM, Ky. — Kentucky's longest-serving U.S. senator, Mitch McConnell, waited for the chants of "We want Mitch!" to die down Saturday afternoon. He smiled coyly at his Republican fans, then launched into talking about the 2014 Senate race, a run for what would be his sixth term. He didn't talk about his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. Instead, he attacked her father…

McConnell told the crowd gathered at the 133rd annual Fancy Farm Picnic — a quirky church fundraiser in rural western Kentucky that has evolved into a required political campaign stop — that they will have to make a decision in the coming year: "We're going to decide what kind of America we want to have, what kind of Kentucky we want to have. There are only two answers to this question: Barack Obama's vision for America — or Kentucky's."

And with that, McConnell laid the groundwork for what will likely be one of the most intense, expensive and nastiest Senate campaigns in Kentucky history. McConnell has been in Congress since 1985 and is now the Senate's top-ranking Republican, with a reputation of being confident and uncompromising….

But in that time, McConnell has seen his popularity in Washington and back home slowly erode, even within his party. This is especially true with Republican senators who were swept into office by the tea party movement and have taken strong stances against the established party leadership. Prominent conservative groups have been slow to offer their endorsements of McConnell, though he has the strong support of fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite.

"The truth is, there is a reason that Senator McConnell is disliked, not only by the voters of Kentucky but by the entire United States, and that is there is a disease of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. And after 30 years, Senator McConnell is at the center of it," Grimes said in a speech that was at times difficult to hear over booing from McConnell supporters and chants of "We want Mitch."…

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