Watching video clips of Romney’s flip-flopping on just about every major issue is a tiring experience. But his lurid history of pandering to exploit the latest trends in political idiocy should not distract voters from the raw truth of what he stands for today, which is an all-out capitulation to the agenda of the vulture capitalists.
The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuval explains it well in her WaPo op-ed, “Extremist in Pinstripes.” Vanden Heuval reviews Romney’s extremist positions on social issues, immigration, increasing the military budget and notes his call to push the Supreme Court even further to the right with his appointments.
She provides a disturbing account of Romney’s blase certitude in support of draconian cuts in Pell grants, Medicaid and food stamps, children’s health programs and aid to people with disabilities to “give multinationals a tax holiday” and give millionaires a nearly $300K tax cut, and adds:
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Romney, as Mike Huckabee once famously noted, “looks like the guy who laid you off.” At Bain, he was the guy who fired you. In a review of 77 major deals that Bain capital did when Romney headed the firm, the Wall Street Journal found that “22% [of the businesses that Bain invested in] either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses.” Of course, Bain produced remarkable returns for its investors, including Romney.
Romney’s flip-flopping proclivities are the easy target for commentators and pundits. But no one should be deluded by speculation that Romney will flip back toward moderate conservatism, if elected. As vanden Heuval argues,
…This isn’t the plan of a moderate. The conservative garb isn’t something Romney has donned for the primaries. These policies…are consistent with Romney’s background as a corporate raider. And as his fundraising shows, they play well in the plush offices of big finance where Romney made his fortune. He is a champion for the 1 percent, peddling a program that will ensure that working Americans bear the cost for the mess left by Wall Street’s extremes while the buccaneer bankers, corporate raiders and private equity gamblers are free to go back to preying on America.
Vanden Heuval’s article should provoke a sobering reassessment among those who have entertained the fantasy that Romney would govern as a moderate. As E. J. Dionne points out, chameleon Romney has proven highly adept as deluding his fellow Republicans across the party’s ideological spectrum that he reflects their views. Dems should not be so gullible, for there is every reason to believe his election would unleash the worst elements of vulture capitalism.
By: J. P. Green, The Democratic Strategist, January 11, 2012
Ezra Klein has an excellent point to make about Republicans and policy this morning. He’s writing about how many policies Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich once supported that turned out to be Kenyan socialism once Barack Obama adopted them. Jonathan Cohn has yet another excellent example: Newt was an enthusiastic backer (with John Kerry!) of comparative effectiveness research — that is, having the government collect data about which medical treatments actually work. That was way back in 2008, but as Cohn points out, after it became part of ACA a few months later it immediately became evil socialist rationing, something that Gingrich can now get in trouble for with conservatives on the campaign trail.
Klein concludes that the reason that Romney and Gingrich are stuck with having supported so many now-forbidden policy is because they are “wonks.” I think that’s too strong, however, or perhaps not strong enough, depending on your perspective. Klein provides a long list of Republicans who once supported an individual mandate on health insurance, but surely they weren’t all wonks? Nope. Most of them were just Republicans following the standard Republican line of the time, a line that was good enough until Barack Obama and the Democrats adopted a kitchen sink to health care reform and tossed in any decent idea that they could find (remember all that rhetoric back then about all the Republican-sponsored ideas included in ACA? It was true!).
No wonder that House Republicans are spending much of their energy repealing non-existent regulations about farm dust or affirming the US motto. Or why Romney’s entire foreign policy program appears to be a pledge not to go on an “apology tour” that never happened. It’s a lot easier to be certain that you always completely oppose the president’s program when you write your own fictional version of the president.
But Klein’s conclusion is right on the mark:
At the end of the day, the GOP will nominate somebody for president…The bigger problem will be if that individual wins. At that point, they’ll need actual solutions for the problems facing the nation. But the Republican Party has ruled out an individual mandate to help with health-care reform, a cap-and-trade program to mitigate global warming and speed the development of renewable energy options, tax increases to help reduce the deficit, and stimulus to help boost the economy. That leaves a potential GOP president with a lot of problems to solve, but few workable policies with which to solve them.
Well, they still have tax cuts for rich people.
By: Jonathan Bernstein, Washington Monthly, December 14, 2011
A few months ago, with Texas aflame from more than 8,000 wildfires brought on by extreme drought, a man who hopes to be the next president took pen in hand and went to work:
“Now, therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”
Then the governor prayed, publicly and often. Alas, a rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history. Day after pitiless day, from Amarillo to Laredo, from Toadsuck to Twitty, folks were greeted by a hot, white bowl overhead, triple-digit temperatures, and a slow death on the land.
In the four months since Perry’s request for divine intervention, his state has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Nearly all of Texas is now in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the worst in Texas history.
Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish. Farmers cannot coax a kernel of grain from ground that looks like the skin of an aging elephant.
Is this Rick Perry’s fault, a slap to a man who doesn’t believe that humans can alter the earth’s climate — God messin’ with Texas? No, of course not. God is too busy with the upcoming Cowboys football season and solving the problems that Tony Romo has reading a blitz.
But Perry’s tendency to use prayer as public policy demonstrates, in the midst of a truly painful, wide-ranging and potentially catastrophic crisis in the nation’s second most-populous state, how he would govern if he became president.
“I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this,’” he said in a speech in May, explaining how some of the nation’s most serious problems could be solved.
That was a warm-up of sorts for his prayer-fest, 30,000 evangelicals in Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Saturday. From this gathering came a very specific prayer for economic recovery. On the following Monday, the first day God could do anything about it, Wall Street suffered its worst one-day collapse since the 2008 crisis. The Dow sunk by 635 points.
Prayer can be meditative, healing, and humbling. It can also be magical thinking. Given how Perry has said he would govern by outsourcing to the supernatural, it’s worth asking if God is ignoring him.
Though Perry will not officially announce his candidacy until Saturday, he loomed large over the Republican debate Thursday night. With their denial of climate change, basic budget math, and the indisputable fact that most of the nation’s gains have gone overwhelmingly to a wealthy few in the last decade, the candidates form a Crazy Eight caucus. You could power a hay ride on their nutty ideas.
After the worst week of his presidency (and the weakest Oval Office speech since Gerald Ford unveiled buttons to whip inflation), the best thing Barack Obama has going for him is this Republican field. He still beats all of them in most polling match-ups.
Perry is supposed to be the savior. When he joins the campaign in the next few days, expect him to show off his boots; they are emblazoned with the slogan dating to the 1835 Texas Revolution: “Come and Take It.” He once explained the logo this way: “Come and take it — that’s what it’s all about.” This is not a man one would expect to show humility in prayer.
Perry revels in a muscular brand of ignorance (Rush Limbaugh is a personal hero), one that extends to the ever-fascinating history of the Lone Star State. Twice in the last two years he’s broached the subject of Texas seceding from the union.
“When we came into the nation in 1845 we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation,” says Perry in a 2009 video that has just surfaced. “And one of the deals was, we can leave any time we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”
He can dream all he wants about the good old days when Texas left the nation to fight for the slave-holding states of the breakaway confederacy. But the law will not get him there. There is no such language in the Texas or United States’ constitutions allowing Texas to unilaterally “leave any time we want.”
But Texas is special. By many measures, it is the nation’s most polluted state. Dirty air and water do not seem to bother Perry. He is, however, extremely perturbed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement of laws designed to clean the world around him. In a recent interview, he wished for the president to pray away the E.P.A.
To Jews, Muslims, non-believers and even many Christians, the Biblical bully that is Rick Perry must sound downright menacing, particularly when he gets into religious absolutism. “As a nation, we must call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles,” he said last week.
As a lone citizen, he’s free to advocate Jesus-driven public policy imperatives. But coming from someone who wants to govern this great mess of a country with all its beliefs, Perry’s language is an insult to the founding principles of the republic. Substitute Allah or a Hindu God for Jesus and see how that polls.
Perry is from Paint Creek, an unincorporated hamlet in the infinity of the northwest Texas plains. I’ve been there. In wet years, it’s pretty, the birds clacking on Lake Stamford, the cotton high. This year, it’s another sad moonscape in the Lone Star State.
Over the last 15 years, taxpayers have shelled out $232 million in farm subsidies to Haskell County, which includes Paint Creek — a handout to more than 2,500 recipients, better than one out every three residents. God may not always be reliable, but in Perry’s home county, the federal government certainly is.
By: Timothy Egan, The New York Times Opinion Pages, August 11, 2011
The death this past weekend of former Oregon Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, was not just the passing of a good and decent man with a strong sense of Western independence, but a realization that “this ain’t your mother’s Republican Party anymore!”
Of course, it hasn’t been for some time. The era of Senators Hatfield and Mathias and Percy and Baker and Javits and Case and Brooke and Scott and Dirksen and so many others is long gone. The moderates and progressives were drummed out or retired long ago and were replaced with Republican conservatives beginning in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
Even many of the hard liners who were replaced were still pragmatic conservatives who often worked across the aisle. The Bennetts, Hatches, Bonds, Grahams and others are practical, serious conservatives.
But if you look at the collection of candidates for president, if you look at what just happened with the debt limit insanity on the Hill, if you examine the inner workings of the Republican caucus in the House, you begin to wonder whether Washington is governable and whether the radicalization of the Republican Party is responsible for this meltdown. Has the Republican Party become an extreme Nihilist party?
Let’s look at the current state of politics within the Republican Party.
The upcoming Iowa straw poll and the debate tomorrow night will further push the already extreme candidates more to the extremes . There are so many potential nominees who have not only gone hard right on the social issues but have decided that they must call for abolishing the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, and even the IRS. They still oppose the TARP program, which kept the world from a depression, and they are proud to reject any form of additional revenue stream by signing inane pledges that handcuff America.
The extreme agenda of cut, cut, cut without regard for the consequences is backed up by statements that even Pell education grants for needy college students are “welfare.” All the sound and fury about the debt did not create a single job or advance economic stability or growth. In fact, the failure of Speaker John Boehner and the Tea Party to agree to efforts by President Obama to reach a $4 trillion grand bargain to right the economic ship was an example of radicals’ my-way-or-the-highway approach.
The American people, overwhelmingly, reject this extremism. They are fed up with the lack of progress and the extremism that has become the modern Republican Party. Their anger is across the board but it is more heavily directed towards what has become of the Republican Party—Tea Party ideologues who lack common sense and have no desire to actually solve problems. In the campaign of 2010 the Tea Party was more or less a Rorschach test, many people saw in it what they wanted. In April 2010, the strong unfavorable was 18 percent; it has risen to around 50 percent.
The scary market volatility, the lack of public confidence in the economy, and most important, the many Americans who are suffering the disasters of unemployment and foreclosure should be front and center for Republicans. Instead, we have a “get Obama” frenzy and a pull to the extreme right that precludes progress.
Speaker Boehner, who seemed close to negotiating the grand bargain with the president, was pulled back into the extremist fold. He even said that he got “98 percent of what I wanted” on the debt deal and declared himself happy with it! If he is happy, there aren’t many Americans who are there with him.
There are few Republican leaders who recognize that what they did with this budget deal led to Americans’ savings and retirements taking a severe hit, a downgrade from Standard & Poor’s that will ripple for years, and a decline in confidence for businesses and consumers.
The old Republican Party wouldn’t have done it; Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have done it; even recent conservatives committed to debt reduction and cutting spending wouldn’t have done it, if they had the courage to stand up to the radicals within the Party.
The time for the Republicans to rediscover their pragmatic, governing side is now. The time to reject the pledges, the ideological straitjackets, the wave of Tea Party hysteria is now. The public is demanding it and the country needs it. (And just a bit of advice from this Democrat: the overreaching and the extremism won’t win you many elections either!)
By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, August 10, 2011
Congressman John Mica, the Florida Republican blamed for single-handedlyshutting down the Federal Aviation Administration, sounded like a beaten man when he called me Thursday evening.
The usually biting chairman of the House transportation committee spoke with remorse about the standoff, which put 74,000 people on furlough or out of work, delayed airport-safety projects and cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
“I’ve had a brutal week, getting beat up by everybody,” Mica told me, minutes after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a deal that would end the shutdown and avoid the cuts to regional air service that Mica wanted.
“I didn’t know it would cause this much consternation,” Mica said. “Now I’ve just got to get the broom and the shovel and clean up the mess.” Switching metaphors, he said he wanted “to unclog the toilet, but it backed up. So I don’t know what to do, what to say.”
One thing he’s going to do is make amends. He said he would introduce legislation Friday to pay FAA workers for their furlough days. “We just want to cheer all those workers who have been left out on a limb by this,” he explained.
Mica’s experience shows the high-risk nature of business in the new Washington, where even routine issues like FAA funding can become conflagrations. With no goodwill between the two parties, or the two chambers, ordinary disagreements mushroom into governing crises, with unpredictable results.
In the debt-limit standoff, Democrats capitulated to most Republican demands to avoid a default. In the FAA confrontation, Republicans pursued similar brinkmanship — but this time Democrats resisted, let the shutdown happen and, at least in Mica’s view, won the fight.
Mica started out with a sensible aim: He wanted to clean up years of messy funding for the FAA. Lawmakers hadn’t been able to agree on issues such as rural-airport subsidies and landing slots at Reagan National, so they kept the agency going with 20 stop-gap funding bills since 2007.
But Mica overreached. Letting his anti-labor ideology take over, he tried to use the FAA bill to overturn a decision by the National Mediation Board to rescind an old rule that had made it unusually difficult for airline workers to organize. Delta Air Lines furiously lobbied Congress to intervene.
Mica knew Senate Democrats would resist, so he tried to create a bargaining chit: He drafted plans to cut funds for small airports in the home states of Reid (Nev.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), chairman of the Senate transportation panel.
The Floridian publicly admitted his ruse. “It’s just a tool to try to motivate some action” on the labor rule, he told a group of airport executives last month, according to Aviation Daily. “I didn’t plan it to be this national issue,” he told me.
Senate Democrats, seizing on Mica’s admission that the bill was a “tool,” refused to deal. They let the shutdown happen and railed against Mica after lawmakers left for recess.
Reid accused him of taking “hostages.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer pointed out that the shutdown cost taxpayers more than the program Mica tried to cut. Privately, Mica’s GOP colleagues harshly criticized him.
The Orlando Sentinel, near Mica’s district, took the congressman to task and said it was “pathetic” that “members of Congress now are enjoying their summer vacations, while some essential FAA inspectors are working without pay.”
On Thursday, Democrats announced a plan to reopen the FAA and said they would use waivers from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to avoid Mica’s rural airport cuts. Mica, pronouncing himself thwarted, said he was stunned that Democrats took Republicans “by the short hairs,” as he put it. “Quite honestly we did not expect that.”
They should have. The 10-term lawmaker was operating under archaic rules. “In our business, you use your legislative tools . . . and put a little leverage on it,” he said. “How else do I do it? Am I going to send them a bouquet?”
But Mica, as much as anybody, created a culture of distrust, where staking out bargaining positions leads not to compromise but to warfare. And now he’s surprised?
“People don’t have to get so personal,” he said with a sigh. “A lot of people hate me now and think I’m the worst thing in the world for what I did.” It’s “this sort of gotcha,” he said, “that’s changed the dynamics of people working more effectively together.”
Hopefully he’ll remember that the next time he sticks it to the other side.
By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 4, 2011