Citing the widely-repeated meme on the right that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax (not to be confused with taxes in general), James Kwak has two theories:
The first is that the modern Republican Party is funded by the very rich… The result is that the parties’ platforms now reflect the wishes of their major funders, not their median voters. This is why Republican presidential candidates spent the primary season competing to offer the most generous tax breaks to the rich—while Paul Ryan’s budget slashes Medicare, a program supported by the Tea Party rank and file. For the rich people who call the shots, it’s simply in their interest to lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor. End of story…
The other, even-more-disturbing explanation, is that Republicans see the rich as worthy members of society (the “producers”) and the poor as a drain on society (the “takers”). In this warped moral universe, it isn’t enough that someone with a gross income of $10 million takes home $8.1 million while someone with a gross income of $20,000 takes home $19,000.* That’s called “punishing success,” so we should really increase taxes on the poor person so we can “reward success” by letting the rich person take home even more. This is why today’s conservatives have gone beyond the typical libertarian and supply-side arguments for lower taxes on the rich, and the campaign to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich has taken on such self-righteous tones.
The most trafficked post ever on my own site continues to be this Graph of Doom look at the Newt Gingrich’s tax plan back when he was still running. It was stunning then and now how much the Republican primary candidates were tripping over each other to demonstrate how much they would give back to the ultra-rich. (See here for a full comparison of all the candidates.)
But, as Kwak says, they really seem to be invested in this Randian stuff. It should also be a reminder how badly Republicans are likely to govern. There on the ups now not because of any actual argument, but because of 1) the continuing unemployment crisis and 2) their skill at organizing. Their actual policy ideas would be laughable if they didn’t have an actual chance of becoming law.
There’s a halfway plausible argument that Romney would prefer to go big on Keynesian stimulus, like Nixon did, but when it comes to domestic policy, a determined Congress holds the whip hand. Be warned.
By: Ryan Cooper, Washington Monthly Political Animal, June 6, 2012
Maine Governor Paul LePage has been waging war on the state’s unions.
The fight around Wisconsin’s public employee unions has in the national spotlight frequently over the last 18 months—culminating in Governor Scott Walker defeating an effort to recall him from office. But while most were at least a little familiar with the Badger State’s turmoil around the right to organize and collectively bargain, few have watched the unfolding drama in Maine, where Governor Paul LePage has courted controversy in his discussion of the state’s unions.
The governor made headlines a year ago when he removed a mural, deemed too favorable to unions, from the side of the state’s Department of Labor building. (In March, a federal judge ruled in favor of LePage’s decision.) But the art was only the beginning.
LePage has been in a protracted battle over a collective bargaining agreement with the public employee union Maine State Employees Association, which happens to be the biggest union in the state. Stateline has a great summary of the fights, which include various complaints against the governor; “the most significant, which has been granted a hearing, alleges that the state failed to negotiate in good faith and interfered with the rights of MSEA workers.” The governor has also pushed right-to-work legislation—which makes union fees voluntary and generally weakens or kills unions in states—in the typically moderate, pro-union state. The legislature doesn’t seem to be quite so excited about killing labor in the state, but it did take away union rights from independent childcare providers according to the Portland Press Herald.
But LePage’s relationship with labor turned particularly sour at a town hall meeting at the end of April, when, as the Bangor Daily News reported, the governor answered a question about fees by saying, “The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it’s hard.” Corrupt and lazy to boot!
Not only did the remarks rile the union leaders, but, as many local media noted, two GOP lawmakers also spoke out to defend state workers. LePage even sent a letter himself, clarifying the remarks to say that “some employees … had been corrupted by bureaucracy.” The note was far from an apology. “If you are dragging your feet because you do not like the direction the Administration is headed, then it is time to either get on board or get out of the way,” LePage wrote.
The results in Wisconsin will likely offer a game plan to other anti-union governors, showing they can count on the national GOP establishment to back them up. Maine may well become a state to watch as public employee unions in particular get targeted.
According to Waterville’s Morning Sentinel, when asked about the Wisconsin results, LePage said, in a fake Jamaican accent, “Yah, mon!”
By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, June 7, 2012
Alberto Gonzales, the first Latino United States Attorney General, said on Thursday that Mitt Romney needs to do more to connect with the Latino community. In an interview with Yahoo News, Gonzales questioned whether Romney has really made an effort to reach out to Latinos, even as the campaign has tried to woo Latino voters:
“I think that members of our party have spoken about this in a way that’s not only anti-immigration but anti-Hispanic, and I think that’s harmful to the long term future of the party,” Gonzales said [...]
“Policy is important, but the tone is equally important,” he says. “He has to find some way to make a personal connection to the Hispanic community. Bush was able to do that. … Many of us had the sense that Bush understood us. He believed in us and we believed in him,” he said.
“I think [Bush] was able to make a personal connection, and I’m not sure that Governor Romney has done that yet.”
Romney’s position on issues important to Latinos, including the DREAM ACT and overall immigration policy, tend to differ from those of the majority of the Latino community. Gonzalez, on the other hand, is an advocate for some version of the DREAM Act and opposes Arizona’s SB 1070.
The former attorney general also reiterated that he did not believe Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the prominent Latino vice presidential favorite, is ready to be president, saying, “What I try to emphasize is that I think a presidential nominee should look [for] someone who can be president on day one.”
By: Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress, June 7, 2012
I have a keen interest in military strategy and tactics. Probably because I’m a political strategist and tactician. Wednesday night, I watched a documentary on the Military History Channel about the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II. The unselfish actions of U.S. sailors there prevented a military disaster and demonstrated what was great about the Greatest Generation.
General Douglas MacArthur had just landed his invasion force in the Philippines in October of 1944. A large Japanese naval fleet, including the biggest battleship in the world, the Yamato, was bearing down on Leyte Gulf to destroy our invasion forces on the beach. The only American naval force available to stop the attack was a small task force of destroyers and escort carriers called Taffy 3 (Task Force 3).
The large Japanese force dwarfed and outgunned Taffy 3 but the Americans blunted the attack by sending three destroyers up against big Japanese battleships. The small destroyer force was able to slow down the larger Japanese fleet long enough for the main American fleet to ride to the rescue and save the day. In the process, the Japanese sunk all three of the destroyers and hundreds of brave, young American sailors went down with their ships. But the selfless dedication of the men in Taffy 3 saved MacArthur’s invasion force from total destruction.
There’s a world of difference between the selfless sacrifice of Taffy 3 and the Republican Party. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows that only four of 10 Republicans believe that government has a responsibility to help people who can’t help themselves. In contrast, six out of every 10 independents and three out of every four Democrats believe that government should step up to help down-on-their-luck Americans. Republicans weren’t always this selfish. In 1987, six in 10 Republicans wanted government to work for the common good.
The GOP slogan for campaign 2012 should be “Every man for himself” or “Women and children last.” Republicans of course, make exceptions for their sugar daddies. If you’re a banker or a billionaire you can count on a lot of help from Republicans in power. If you’re an unwed mother in need of prenatal medical care or a poor hungry kid in need of a school lunch, you can forget about any help from the GOP Mean Machine.
The Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan budget clearly illustrates the party’s fiscal philosophy. The GOP budget cuts aid for prenatal care, school lunches, and child healthcare. The Republican proposal is careful, however, to protect tax breaks for the 1 percent. The best example of the cruelty in the GOP budget is that it cuts federal aid to help seniors pay for home heating oil while it maintains $4 billion dollars a year in federal tax freebies for the oil companies. If you have filled your tank recently you know big oil doesn’t really need the money.
My political philosophy comes from Hubert Humphrey, who said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadow of life, the needy and the handicapped.”
If my belief in these words makes me a bleeding heart liberal, let me bleed.
By: Brad Bannon, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, June 7, 2012