In April, House Democrats “celebrated” the 100th day of the new Republican rule in the chamber. Most notably, Dems emphasized the fact that the GOP, despite a year of campaign promises, haven’t even considered any jobs bills, with Republicans instead preferring to waste time on pointless gamesmanship and culture war crusades.
As if to say, “Oh yeah?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) turned to Twitter to respond to the Democratic argument:
And here we are six weeks later.
Cantor said that “everything seems to be going in the wrong direction,” but denied that Republicans deserve a share of the blame for the stagnant economic recovery.
Well, Eric, blame is a tricky thing, isn’t it?
Even in April, Cantor’s argument was foolish. Indeed, by Cantor’s reasoning, job growth should be impossible. How can all of these jobs be created in the midst of Obama-induced uncertainty? And with crushing tax rates so high? And a massive debt? And with pesky regulations stifling the engines of ingenuity?
We were apparently supposed to believe that Republicans’ mere presence in the House of Representatives is enough to overcome these burdensome hurdles.
That is, until the jobs picture deteriorates, at which point, Republicans bear no responsibility whatsoever.
Heads Cantor wins; tails Dems lose.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly-Political Animal, June 6, 2011
When it comes to organizations that appreciate the Republican approach most, the National Rifle Association certainly comes to mind, but Chris Brown flags a different group that seems pleased.
In a video released [Friday] Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn encourages terrorists to use American gun shows to arm themselves for potential Mumbai-style attacks. Gadahn’s video laid out a new tactic for Al Qaeda to continue their murderous terrorist agenda:
“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
At gun shows buyers can purchase guns from private sellers without passing a background check.
Because the discourse allows no meaningful discussion of restricting gun ownership, this news will probably spark exactly zero debate on Capitol Hill.
But it’s a reminder of just how complete the NRA’s victory really is. Al Qaeda itself is urging radicals to take advantage of loose American laws to arm themselves, presumably to aid in acts of terror … and policymakers who fear the NRA more than they fear terrorists don’t say a word.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly-Political Animal, June 6, 2011
Conservative Newspeak?: Grover Norquist Compares GOPers Who Support Lifesaving Health Care Programs To Cancer cells
In the annals of Orwellian Newspeak, Grover Norquist, president of the libertarian group Americans for Tax Reform, may have established a new precedent for what kind of logic-defying propaganda is accepted in our political discourse — and for what journalists will uncritically reprint sans context or question.
In Monday’s Washington Post story on how deep the anti-tax fervor runs inside the Republican Party, Norquist is quoted criticizing three Republicans, including Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), for considering anything other than cutting government programs like Medicare and Medicaid as a solution to the national debt. As the Post reports it (emphasis mine):
The work of reducing the national debt must be done entirely by shrinking government, he said. Any compromise that includes taxes would hinder that goal and taint the Republican brand.
Norquist compared Coburn, the most outspoken of the Senate trio, to a “malignant” cell in the body politic. “So,” Norquist said, “we use chemo and radiation to protect all the healthy cells around it, so it doesn’t grow and metastasize.”
That’s right, Norquist is unequivocally saying that efforts to preserve health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid that often use chemo and radiation to cure cancer — these efforts are, in fact, the real malignant cancer that require chemo and radiation to kill.
Orwell long ago warned of a political system that would insist with a straight face that “war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.” But my guess is that he never envisioned one of the leaders of a major political party claiming that curing cancer is actually cancer — and my guess is that he certainly never envisioned one of the world’s leading newspapers printing that allegation without at least questioning it’s logic.
By: David Sirota, Contributing Writer, Salon, June 6, 2011
Ten years ago today, the wealthiest Americans caught a multi-billion dollar break from their benefactor, then-president George W. Bush. In the decade since, through two wars, natural disasters, a plummeting economy and a soaring debt, the wealthiest Americans have gotten to keep those Bush tax cuts. Happy birthday, everybody!
As the Republican Party now lines itself up behind Rep. Paul Ryan on his mission to cut the resulting deficit on the backs of working people and the elderly, I find myself surprisingly and strangely nostalgic for another GOP hero, whose legacy, at least when it comes to taxes, has become woefully misunderstood. Can it be that I find myself nostalgic for Ronald Reagan?!
Of course, I’m not alone in my nostalgia. I’m joined by the entire Republican leadership in this, but I think our reasons may be quite a bit different. In the spirit of unity, I’d like to suggest to Republicans in Congress that they look closely at the record of their favorite 20th century hero and adopt yet another policy named after the Gipper. I’m no fan of much of President Reagan’s legacy, but in a new spirit of bipartisanship, and historical accuracy, I’d like to present Republicans in Congress with an idea: the Ronald Reagan Tax Reform Act of 2011.
A key element of the Reagan lore believed by today’s GOP is that Reagan’s embrace of “trickle-down economics” is what caused any and all economic growth since the 1980s. In fact, after Reagan implemented his initial tax-slashing plan in 1981, the federal budget deficit started to rapidly balloon. Reagan and his economic advisers were forced to scramble and raised corporate taxes to calm the deficit expansion and stop the economy from spiraling downward. Between 1982 and 1984, Reagan implemented four tax hikes. In 1986, his Tax Reform Act imposed the largest corporate tax increase in U.S. history. The GDP growth and higher tax revenues enjoyed in the later years of the Reagan presidency were in part because of his willingness to compromise on his early supply-side idolatry.
The corporate tax increases that Reagan implemented — under the more palatable guise of “tax reform” — bear another lesson for Republicans. The vast majority of the current Republican Congress has signed on to a pledge peddled by anti-tax purist Grover Norquist, which beholds them to not raise any income taxes by any amount under any circumstances, or to bring in new revenue by closing loopholes. This pledge, which Rep. Ryan’s budget loyally adheres to, in effect freezes tax policy in time — preserving not only Bush’s massive and supposedly temporary tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but also a vast mishmash of tax breaks and loopholes for specific industries won by well-funded lobbyists.
The problem has become so great that many giant American corporations have become so adept at exploiting loopholes in the tax code that they paid no federal income taxes at all last year — if Republicans in Congress follow their pledge to Norquist, they won’t be able to close a single one of the loopholes that are allowing corporations to avoid paying their fair share.
Even Reagan recognized the difference between just plain raising taxes and simplifying the tax code to cut out loopholes that subsidize corporations. In 1984, he arranged to bring in $50 billion over three years, mainly by closing these loopholes. His 1986 reform act not only included $120 billion in tax hikes for corporations over five years, it also closed $300 billion worth of corporate loopholes.
These kinds of tax simplification solutions are available for Congress if they want them. As I wrote in April, nixing Bush’s tax cut’s for the wealthiest Americans would help the country cut roughly $65 billion off the deficit in this year alone. Closing loopholes that allow corporations to shelter their income in foreign banks would bring in $6.9 billion. Eliminating the massive tax breaks now enjoyed by oil and gas companies would yield $2.6 billion to help pay the nation’s bills.
But before Republicans in Congress change their math, they have to change their rhetoric — and embrace the reality of the economic situation they face and the one that they’d like to think they’re copying. In 1986, during the signing ceremony for the Tax Reform Act, Reagan explained that “vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.”
It’s time for the GOP to take a page from their hero’s playbook. If they do so, they might be able to find some allies that they never thought possible. It’s time for “everybody and every corporation to pay their fair share.” We can all get along. Sign me up for “The Reagan Tax Reform Act of 2011.”
By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For The American Way, Published in Huffington Post Politics, June 7, 2011
Break out the bubbly, because there will be celebrations today on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms and mansions all across America. Why? Because today is the 10th anniversary of the big Bush tax breaks for bankers and billionaires and the businesses that bankroll their big-budget campaigns.
Today is an opportunity to ponder these questions: If the Bush tax cuts are so great, why has the economy been so bad since they became law 10 years ago? And how about this brain teaser: If the GOP theology of cutting taxes for the rich brings in more revenue, why is Democratic President Bill Clinton the only president in the last generation to leave a surplus behind for the next president?
In 1980, President George H.W. Bush called it voodoo economics. Bush 41 conveniently changed his position when he became Ronald Reagan’s running mate that year. But the first President Bush was right the first time. The idea that tax revenues will go up when you cut taxes has cast an evil spell over the U.S. economy going all the way back to Ronald Reagan. In 1981, the new GOP math became 1 + 1 = 3. With this kind of fuzzy math, it’s no wonder that President Reagan left behind a massive budget deficit.
George W. Bush may have had George H.W. Bush for a father, but Ronald Reagan was his role model. The latest incarnation of voodoo economics was the creation of the second President Bush. The tax cuts for bankers and billionaires that became law in 2001 quickly turned the Clinton surplus into the Bush budget deficit as big as Donald Trump’s ego. Voodoo is what Republicans do so well.
But Bush 43 did not stop there in handing out goodies to Wall Street. In 2008, the president asked his Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, to bail out Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street investment firms to the tune of three quarters of a trillion dollars. Of course, President Bush never even considered an attempt to rescue the millions of working Americans who first lost their jobs and then their homes because of malfeasance on Wall Street.
Last month, the Center for Budget Priorities released a study that demonstrated that the two biggest reasons for the current budget deficit were the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So what do the Republicans do? Do they vote to cut Pentagon spending or end dole welfare for wealthy Americans? Of course they don’t. They gut Medicare. Genius!
Yesterday, Frank Patitucci, CEO and Chairman of NuCompass Mobility Service, called on Republican Speaker John Boehner to increase taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year. Patitucci explained his position by saying businesses need a strong middle class to prosper.
But I don’t want to be a party pooper or rain on Wall Street’s parade, so party hardy, guys. Don’t scrimp on the Dom Perignon and the caviar. Santa Claus comes only once a year. Let’s worry about the GOP cuts in healthcare for seniors and nutrition programs for women and their infant children another day.
By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, June 7, 2011