What are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest? Hispanics, women, and young people. Who are Republicans pissing off the most? Latinos, women, and young people.
It’s almost as if the GOP can’t help itself.
Start with Hispanic voters, whose electoral heft keeps growing as they comprise an ever-larger portion of the electorate. Hispanics now favor President Obama over Romney by more than two to one, according to a recent Pew poll.
The movement of Hispanics into the Democratic camp has been going on for decades. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Replicating California Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s disastrous support almost twenty years ago for Proposition 187 – which would have screened out undocumented immigrants from public schools, health care, and other social services, and required law-enforcement officials to report any “suspected” illegals. (Wilson, you may remember, lost that year’s election, and California’s Republican Party has never recovered.)
The Arizona law now before the Supreme Court – sponsored by Republicans in the state and copied by Republican legislators and governors in several others – would authorize police to stop anyone looking Hispanic and demand proof of citizenship. It’s nativism disguised as law enforcement.
Romney is trying to distance himself from that law, but it’s not working. That may be because he dubbed it a “model law” during February’s Republican primary debate in Arizona, and because its author (former state senator Russell Pearce, who was ousted in a special election last November largely by angry Hispanic voters) says he’s working closely with Romney advisers.
Hispanics are also reacting to Romney’s attack just a few months ago on GOP rival Texas Governor Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition at the University of Texas for children of undocumented immigrants. And to Romney’s advocacy of what he calls “self-deportation” – making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants and their families that they choose to leave.
As if all this weren’t enough, the GOP has been pushing voter ID laws all over America, whose obvious aim is to intimidate Hispanic voters so they won’t come to the polls. But they may have the opposite effect – emboldening the vast majority of ethnic Hispanics, who are American citizens, to vote in even greater numbers and lend even more support to Obama and other Democrats.
Or consider women – whose political and economic impact in America continues to grow (women are fast becoming better educated than men and the major breadwinners in American homes). The political gender gap is huge. According to recent polls, women prefer Obama to Romney by over 20 percent.
So what is the GOP doing to woo women back? Attacking them. Last February, House Republicans voted to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Last May, they unanimously passed the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” banning the District of Columbia from funding abortions for low-income women. (The original version removed all exceptions – rape, incest, and endangerment to a mother’s life – except “forcible” rape.)
Earlier this year Republican legislators in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Alabama pushed bills requiring women seeking abortions to undergo invasive vaginal ultrasound tests (Pennsylvania Republicans even wanted proof such had viewed the images).
Republican legislators in Georgia and Arizona passed bills banning most abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. The Georgia bill would also require that any abortion after 20 weeks be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. Republican legislators in Texas have voted to eliminate funding for any women’s healthcare clinic with an affiliation to an abortion provider – even if the affiliation is merely a shared name, employee, or board member.
All told, over 400 Republican bills are pending in state legislatures, attacking womens’ reproductive rights.
But even this doesn’t seem enough for the GOP. Republicans in Wisconsin just repealed a law designed to prevent employers from discriminating against women.
Or, finally, consider students – a significant and growing electoral force, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Attack them, of course.
Republican Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s budget plan – approved by almost every House Republican and enthusiastically endorsed by Mitt Romney – allows rates on student loans to double on July 1 – from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That will add an average of $1,000 a year to student debt loads, which already exceed credit-card debt.
House Republicans say America can’t afford the $6 billion a year it would require to keep student loan rates down to where they are now. But that same Republican plan gives wealthy Americans trillions of dollars in tax cuts over the next decade. (Under mounting political pressure, House Republicans have come up with just enough money to keep the loan program going for another year – safely past Election Day – by raiding a fund established for preventive care in the new health-care act.)
Here again, Romney is trying to tiptoe away from the GOP position. He now says he supports keeping student loans where they were. Yet only a few months ago he argued that subsidized student loans were bad because they encouraged colleges to raise their tuition.
How can a political party be so dumb as to piss off Hispanics, women, and young people? Because the core of its base is middle-aged white men – and it doesn’t seem to know how to satisfy its base without at the same time turning off everyone who’s not white, male, and middle-aged.
By: Robert Reich, Robert Reich Blog, April 26, 2012
Republicans still can’t decide whether there is a War on
Caterpillars Women, or whether President Obama started it, or whether it’s a fictional invention of the media or the Democrats, or whether it’s a Democratic War on Women Ann Romney.
This week, Michele Bachmann said, “There is no war on women. There’s never been a war on women.” Which is either on or off message, depending on the day. For example, Sen. John McCain on Meet the Press, March 20, 2012:
GREGORY: Do you think that there is something of a war on women among Republicans?McCAIN: I think we have to fix that. I think that there is a perception out there because of how this whole contraception issue played out — ah, we need to get off of that issue, in my view.
But this week, during a Senate debate on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, McCain flip-flopped on the problem he’d previously acknowledged. He took to the floor to make his case while his party launched an unprecedented opposition because they don’t like the part where it includes protection for immigrants, lesbians and Native American women. Or, as Melissa McEwan (aka Shakespeare’s Sister) brilliantly described it, “Protect the sanctity of traditional domestic violence!”
While McCain ultimately voted to reauthorize the act, he first had to spend more than 10 minutes explaining why women are perfectly equal already and, just as his fellow Republican Bachmann claimed, the War on Women is mere fiction:
My friends, this supposed “War on Women” or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are political in their purpose and effect. The first, purely political; the first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter, and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television. Neither purpose does anything to advance the well being of any American. [...]To suggest that one group of us or one party speaks for all women or that one group has an agenda to harm women and another to help them is ridiculous if for no other reason than it assumes a unity of interests, beliefs, concerns, experiences and ambition among all women that doesn’t exist among men or among any race or class. [...]
Thankfully, I believe men and women of our country are smart enough to recognize that when a politician or political party resorts to dividing us in the name of bringing us together, it usually means that they’re either out of ideas or short on resolve to address the challenges of our time. At this time in our nation’s history, we face an abundance of hard choices. The vicious slogans and the declaring of phony wars are intended to avoid those hard choices and to escape paying a political price for doing so. [...]
Leaving these problems unaddressed indefinitely and resorting to provoking greater divisions among us at a time when we most need unity might not be a war against this or that group of Americans, but it is surely a surrender: a surrender of our responsibilities to the country and a surrender of decency.
Apparently, Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping is contagious, and John McCain has a bad case of it.
As I previously wrote, and as readers of this series well know, Republicans can deny it all they want, but there is a War on Women. It’s real, and it’s dangerous, and it’s not about zingers and slogans:
It’s about a constant legislative assault by the Republican Party, at the state and federal level, on women’s equality and basic rights, from health care to equal pay to funding programs to combat violence against women. Women aren’t stupid, even if Republicans, like Herman Cain, insist that “men are much more familiar with the failed policies than a lot of other people.”
Despite the best efforts of the 31 Republicans (yes, all men) who voted against it, the Senate passed the not-watered-down Violence Against Women Act. Next stop is the House, so tell your representatives to pass the Violence Against Women Act.
By: Kaili Joy Gray, Daily Kos, April 28, 2012
Catholic nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature. No, nuns rock!
They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs. As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.
They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits. Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.
So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns.
The Vatican issued a stinging reprimand of American nuns this month and ordered a bishop to oversee a makeover of the organization that represents 80 percent of them. In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.
What Bible did that come from? Jesus in the Gospels repeatedly talks about poverty and social justice, yet never explicitly mentions either abortion or homosexuality. If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.
Since the papal crackdown on nuns, they have received an outpouring of support. “Nuns were approached by Catholics at Sunday liturgies across the country with a simple question: ‘What can we do to help?’ ” The National Catholic Reporter recounted. It cited one parish where a declaration of support for nuns from the pulpit drew loud applause, and another that was filled with shouts like, “You go, girl!”
At least four petition drives are under way to support the nuns. One on Change.org has gathered 15,000 signatures. The headline for this column comes from an essay by Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns.
“How dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world?” Hunt wrote. “How dare the very men who preside over a church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious?”
Sister Joan Chittister, a prominent Benedictine nun, said she had worried at first that nuns spend so much time with the poor that they would have no allies. She added that the flood of support had left her breathless.
“It’s stunningly wonderful,” she said. “You see generations of laypeople who know where the sisters are — in the streets, in the soup kitchens, anywhere where there’s pain. They’re with the dying, with the sick, and people know it.”
Sister Joan spoke to me from a ghetto in Erie, Pa., where her order of 120 nuns runs a soup kitchen, a huge food pantry, an afterschool program, and one of the largest education programs for the unemployed in the state.
I have a soft spot for nuns because I’ve seen firsthand that they sacrifice ego, safety and comfort to serve some of the neediest people on earth. Remember the “Kony 2012” video that was an Internet hit earlier this year, about an African warlord named Joseph Kony? One of the few heroes in the long Kony debacle was a Comboni nun, Sister Rachele Fassera.
In 1996, Kony’s army attacked a Ugandan girls’ school and kidnapped 139 students. Sister Rachele hiked through the jungle in pursuit of the kidnappers — some of the most menacing men imaginable, notorious for raping and torturing their victims to death. Eventually, she caught up with the 200 gunmen and demanded that they release the girls. Somehow, she browbeat the warlord in charge into releasing the great majority of the girls.
I’m betting on the nuns to win this one as well. After all, the sisters may be saintly, but they’re also crafty. Elias Chacour, a prominent Palestinian archbishop in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, recounts in a memoir that he once asked a convent if it could supply two nuns for a community literacy project. The mother superior said she would have to check with her bishop.
“The bishop was very clear in his refusal to allow two nuns,” the mother superior told him later. “I cannot disobey him in that.” She added: “I will send you three nuns!”
Nuns have triumphed over an errant hierarchy before. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church excommunicated an Australian nun named Mary MacKillop after her order exposed a pedophile priest. Sister Mary was eventually invited back to the church and became renowned for her work with the poor. In 2010, Pope Benedict canonized her as Australia’s first saint.
“Let us be guided” by Sister Mary’s teachings, the pope declared then.
Amen to that.
By: Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 28, 2012
Political arithmetic is always suspect, and one should always examine carefully the claims of those seeking votes. Smart observers have learned to distinguish between the claims of political candidates and their advisers and proposals that have been evaluated by independent scorekeepers such as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
This principle was aptly illustrated by the “budget analysis” Mitt Romney’s chief economic adviser, Glenn Hubbard, recently put forward. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, Hubbard constructs a budget plan that he imagines President Obama might propose someday, engages in a set of his own extrapolations and then makes assertions about it. He does not discuss the actual Obama plan or how it has been evaluated by the CBO. Nor does Hubbard invest his credibility in defending the claims that Romney has made about his own fiscal plans. He simply states that “Yes, President Obama and Mitt Romney have budgets with competing visions. But Gov. Romney’s budget makes tough choices” — without delving into the specifics or trade-offs that Romney’s “tough choices” entail.
The president put forward a plan this year that would reduce deficits by more than $4 trillion over the next decade. It would bring federal discretionary spending to its lowest levels since the 1960s. It includes $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in additional revenue. It also asks everyone to pay his or her fair share of taxes, repealing the Bush tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year and closing loopholes and shelters such as preferences for private jets, hedge fund managers and offshore investments.
The independent CBO confirms that the Obama budget would stabilize the debt as a share of the economy — returning us to a tenable fiscal path. It would do that while allowing increased investments in education, research and infrastructure that are critical to stronger, shared economic growth in the years to come. By focusing on building a strong economy, the budget expands the tax base and reduces pressures for future tax increases.
Rather than criticize this approach, Hubbard ignores it — and instead chooses to invent assumptions that bear no relationship to the president’s actual policies. His figures are not explained, but they apparently arbitrarily assume that the president must raise taxes to pay for spending above a level of Hubbard’s choosing.
Rather than filling imaginary gaps in the president’s budget, which has been spelled out in sufficient detail to permit evaluation by independent experts, Hubbard should perhaps address some of the many gaps in Romney’s plans.
Start with the taxes. The Romney campaign has been very clear about what the former governor is promising: $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of extending the Bush tax cuts, with those benefits heavily weighted toward the country’s wealthiest taxpayers. Romney himself has acknowledged the lack of details, stating in reference to his tax plan that “frankly, it can’t be scored.” I have been party for many years to searches for “high-income tax shelters” that can feasibly be closed. I know of no reputable expert in either political party who would find that there is anything even approaching $5 trillion in potential revenue to be generated from this source.
Romney has also proposed a massive defense buildup, even while he says he will cut spending deeply enough to balance the budget. I think it’s clear why he won’t tell voters which cuts he would make: In the past, disclosing his planned budget cuts was politically damaging.
We have seen this movie before. When President Bill Clinton left office, our country was paying down its debt on a substantial scale. I was privileged as secretary of the Treasury to be buying back federal debt. George W. Bush campaigned on a program of tax cuts supported by economic advisers who were not subject to the rigors of official budget scorekeeping. The results — trillions of dollars of budget deficits — speak for themselves.
This is a consequential presidential election. As the country continues to recover from the largest economic crisis in generations, we need to strengthen the job market, address big fiscal challenges and build an economy that is based on sustainable, shared economic growth. Voters should have a chance to choose between clear alternatives. Obama — consistent with his obligations as president — has laid out a multiyear budget embodying his vision for the future, and it has been evaluated by independent experts. It is time for Romney to do the same.
By: Lawrence Summers, Opinion, The Washington Post, April 26, 2012