Let’s take a trip back to 1992. Then-Gov. Bill Clinton, in his campaign manifesto, said: “Middle-class taxpayers will have a choice between a children’s tax credit or a significant reduction in their income tax rate.”
By February 1993, President Clinton’s position on a middle class tax cut had morphed into this:
Before I ask the middle class to pay, I’m going to ask the wealthiest Americans and companies, who made money in the ’80s and had their taxes cut, to pay their fair share. And I’m going to cut more government spending. But I cannot tell you that I won’t ask you to make any contribution to the changes we have to make.
To justify the reversal, Clinton cited a budget deficit that was $50 billion larger than what he thought it was before the election. Fast forward to today.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney has pledged to cut income tax rates by 20 percent for every American, not just the middle class. He has also embraced Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan, which would convert the program from a defined benefit to a defined contribution scheme.
Romney emerges from Michigan committed not only to the Ryan plan, but also to a 20 percent cut in tax rates, above and beyond his prior commitment to making the Bush tax cuts permanent. …That’s not the race I’m sure Romney intended to run. But it will be hard to change now.
Yes, hard to change now—and impossible to realize once in office.
Such deficit-exploding tax cuts will never become law. Romney—a sane man—already knows this. There will be no need for Clintonian “evolution.” And, especially if the Senate remains under Democratic control, the odds for which increased with Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise retirement announcement, the Ryan plan stands little chance of even reaching President Romney’s desk.
To review: Mitt Romney has set himself up to (ahem) severely disappoint conservatives who already suspect his ideological convictions.
As I see it, Romney could blunt this backlash-in-the-making by picking up the pieces of last year’s aborted Grand Bargain. There is a solid left-right consensus on raising badly-needed federal revenue by reigning in the billions we spend through the tax code. Pair reduction in tax expenditures with modest entitlement reforms and you can see at least the lineaments of restored budget sanity.
This is probably the best outcome our political system can manage these days.
The question is, as president, would Mitt Romney be able to sell it to conservatives who don’t trust him?
By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, February 29, 2012
While GOP senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged to fight the Obama’s administration’s modified regulation requiring health insurers and busnisses to offer contraception coverage without additional cost sharing, the revised rule “appears to have won over” two of the five Republican women senators.
Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME) — both of whom have sponsored legislation requiring insurers to offer contraception benefits in all health plans — are in favor of the new compromise, which would allow religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and hospitals to avoid providing birth control. Their employees will still receive contraception coverage at no additional cost sharing directly from the insurer:
“It appears that changes have been made that provide women’s health services without compelling Catholic organizations in particular to violate the beliefs and tenets of their faith,” Snowe said in a statement. “According to the Catholic Health Association, the administration ‘responded to the issues [they] identified that needed to be fixed,’ which is what I urged the president to do in addressing this situation.
“While I will carefully review the details of the president’s revised proposal, it appears to be a step in the right direction,” Collins said in a statement. “The administration’s original plan was deeply flawed and clearly would have posed a threat to religious freedom. It presented the Catholic Church with its wide-ranging social, educational, and health care services, and many other faith-based organizations, with an impossible choice between violating their religious beliefs or violating federal regulations. The administration has finally listened to the concerns raised by many and appears to be seeking to avoid the threat to religious liberties posed by its original plan.”
Republicans in the senate seem determined to oppose the compromise and have introduced legislation that would allow employers or individuals to opt out of any benefit that undermines their moral beliefs. “They don’t have the authority under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to tell someone in this country or some organization in this country what their religious beliefs are,” McConnell told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “This issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down,” he said.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who led the GOP’s opposition to the original rule, has yet to issue a statement on the measure and did not respond to ThinkProgress’ query about her position. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also did not respond. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) co-sponsored a 1999 bill requiring contraception equity in insurance coverage and has not yet to weigh in on the current debate.
By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, February 13, 2012
Hypocrisy: Republican Senators Including Snowe And Collins Co-Sponsored Federal Contraception Mandate In 2001
Republicans have gone to war against President Obama’s regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage, portraying the measure as a “government takeover” of health care and pledging to repeal the rule in Congress. The measure, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, says that companies offering coverage must also provide birth control insurance (but exempts houses of worship and nonprofits primarily employing and serving those of the same faith).
The Obama measure closely resembles state laws providing equity in insurance coverage for contraception in six states and actually offers far more conscience protections than previous Congressional efforts to expand women’s access to birth control. For instance, a 2001 bill co-sponsored by Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Lincoln Chafee (RI), Gordon Smith (OR), John Warner (VA), Arlen Specter (PA) — S. 104 — sought to establish parity for contraceptive prescriptions within the context of coverage already guaranteed by insurance plans, but offered no opt-out clause for religious groups who opposed contraception:
SEC. 714. STANDARDS RELATING TO BENEFITS FOR CONTRACEPTIVES.
`(a) REQUIREMENTS FOR COVERAGE- A group health plan, and a health insurance issuer providing health insurance coverage in connection with a group health plan, may not–
`(1) exclude or restrict benefits for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or generic equivalents approved as substitutable by the Food and Drug Administration, if such plan provides benefits for other outpatient prescription drugs or devices; or
`(2) exclude or restrict benefits for outpatient contraceptive services if such plan provides benefits.
“Women shouldn’t be held hostage by virtue of where they live,” Snowe told a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in September of 2001. “It simply is not fair.” “All we’re saying in this legislation is that if health insurance plans provide coverage for prescription drugs that that coverage has to extend to FDA-approved prescription contraceptives. It’s that simple.”
At the time, religious groups also raised concerns about the measure and Snowe promised to add a “conscience clause” that is similar to the exemption included in Maine’s law. Incidentally, that language is very similar to the conscience protections included in Obama’s regulation.
By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, February 8, 2012
It seems Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) isn’t even trying to make sense any more:
Fiscal shenanigans such as permanent tax increases to pay for one-year temporary measures are precisely the problem that drove our nation into a $15 trillion debt crisis.
Huh? Passing a permanent tax increase to pay for a temporary measure would, logically, decrease debt, not increase it.
And, indeed, if we look back over history, we don’t see “permanent tax increases” as drivers of debt. Tax cuts, on the other hand — like those signed by Ronald Reagan and supported by Olympia Snowe and those signed by George W. Bush and supported by Olympia Snowe — have contributed to increasing deficits and debt. Meanwhile, tax increases — like those signed by Bill Clinton and opposed by Olympia Snowe in 1993 —reduced deficits.
Given Snowe’s ongoing embrace of Tea Party Economics and shunning of basic economic concepts —not to mention her record of supporting measures that increased the deficit and opposing things that cut it — it isn’t surprising that she’d adopt the up-is-down, black-is-white economic fantasy that tax increases cause deficits and tax cuts increase revenue. But it should help put to rest the notion that she’s some kind of “moderate” or “sensible” Republican.
By: Jamison Foser, Media Matters Political Corrections, December 7, 2011
With time running out, President Obama used his weekly address yesterday to call on Congress to approve an extension of the payroll tax cut. Economists project a significant economic hit if lawmakers fail to act, and the president said, “Now is the time to step on the gas, not slam on the brakes.”
Then there was the Republican address, delivered by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
…Snowe put her emphasis on a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, saying ,”We have no greater duty than to once and for all obligate the government to live within its means and spend no more than what it takes in.”
Snowe argued that, among other things, the balanced budget amendment would enforce the mandatory spending cuts that are supposed to take effect in 2013 because of the failure of the super committee to reach agreement on an alternative deficit reduction plan.
“The bottom line is, the real reason many lawmakers don’t want a balanced budget amendment is the exact reason why it’s so essential,” Snowe said. “They don’t want their hands tied; they want to continue to spend without restraint. Their way has been to break budgets and amass more and more debt, all the while promising Congress will one day balance the budget. Well, as we sadly know, the promises were empty, the debt is astronomical and their way hasn’t worked. Now, it’s time for our way.”
Even for Republicans, this is ridiculous.
For one thing, the Balanced Budget Amendment is already dead. The House, dominated by far-right Republicans, brought the proposal to the floor two weeks ago, and it failed miserably. Why on earth would the official GOP response tout an already-defeated measure related to the debt when the focus should be on the economy?
For another, the BBA is a spectacularly bad idea. It would devastate the economy and make responses to future crises effectively impossible. Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations, explained recently that this is a “dreadful” idea and the Republican proposal “is, frankly, nuts.”
And finally, what has gotten into Olympia Snowe? In October, she partnered with a right-wing Alabama senator to push a plan to make the legislative process even more difficult. A week earlier, she demanded the administration act with “urgency” to address the jobs crisis, only to filibuster a popular jobs bill a day later. The week before that, Snowe prioritized tax cuts for millionaires over job creation. Shortly before that, Snowe tried to argue that government spending is “clearly … the problem” when it comes to the nation’s finances, which is a popular line among conservatives, despite being wrong.
It’s tempting to think the fear of a primary challenge is pushing Snowe to the far-right, but the truth is, the senator’s GOP opponents next year are barely even trying. She may fear a replay of the Castle-O’Donnell fight that played out in Delaware, but all indications are that Snowe really doesn’t have anything to worry about.
And yet, she’s become a shell of her former self. It’s rather sad to watch.
There is some prime real estate in the political landscape for genuine GOP moderates who could have a significant impact. Instead, Congress has Olympia Snowe, who now bears no resemblance to the centrist she used to be.
If I had to guess, I’d say most mainstream voters in Maine have no idea of the extent to which Snowe has moved to the right, which is a shame. I wonder how those who supported her in the past would even recognize her anymore.
By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, December 4, 2011