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The Truly Farcical “Jobs Through Growth Act”

I suppose Senate Republicans deserve at least some credit for making an effort. The congressional GOP has largely ignored the jobs crisis, so the fact that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have put together the “Jobs Through Growth Act,” is at least marginally constructive.

The problem is with the “plan” itself.

What do Senate Republicans want to do to give employment a boost? Cut taxes, approve a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, eliminate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, eliminate the entirety of Wall Street reform safeguards, blocking EPA enforcement of clean air measures, and a tax repatriation holiday for international corporations.

When President Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act, it had been deliberately crafted to include several provisions that Republicans have traditionally supported. Graham, McCain, and Paul didn’t bother. Try not to be surprised.

The GOP senators boasted their plan would create 5 million jobs. And how would that happen? Who came up with that number? How would Republicans pay for their plan? How quickly would it make a difference?

They didn’t say. In fact, unlike the detailed jobs bill presented by the White House, the “plan” from Senate Republicans is a wish list of far-right ideas, but it’s also lacking in the sort of substantive details that serious proposals require.

And that’s precisely why this nonsense is so farcical.

The premise of Obama’s proposal was that the two parties couldn’t agree on their long-term vision of government, but the economic emergency was too severe to wait until the election to settle it, so they should act immediately on short-term ideas that have bipartisan support. The GOP response is to issue a series of exclusively long-term proposals lacking any bipartisan support. There’s not much pretense of intending to address the current crisis when your plan has as its cornerstone the passage of a Constitutional amendment. […]

On jobs, the GOP simply will not engage with the premise of the entire macroeconomic forecasting field that the economy is suffering from a lack of demand. The purpose of this bill is to straddle that awkward divide, and provide a sound bite to answer Obama when he says he has a jobs plan.

That’s plainly true. In fact, McCain, who admits he doesn’t understand economic policy, told reporters yesterday he and his cohorts put this plan together in part as “a response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal.”

Senator, I’ve seen your plan. You still don’t have a proposal.

The intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party is just astounding. It has no new ideas, no constructive solutions, no creativity, no depth of thought, no intellectual consistency, no recollection of their own failures, no understanding of economic policy, and no access to calculators.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Economic Recovery, Financial Reform, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Lindsey Graham, Middle Class, Rand Paul, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women, Watch Your Back: Anti-Choicers Are Gambling With Your Life

In a medical emergency, the last thing we should be worried about is whether a  hospital is going to put ideology ahead of the care we need to protect our  lives and health. But if anti-choice lawmakers get their way, women and their loved ones will have to watch their backs.

Yesterday the House passed an unprecedented bill that would allow hospitals to let women die at their doorsteps. It sounds almost unbelievable — but utter disregard for the well-being of women who need abortion care has tragically reached new levels in the House.

The  bill, the so-called “Protect Life Act” does anything but.  Indeed, it gambles with women’s lives.  It could allow hospitals to ignore the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which requires that  patients in medical emergencies receive appropriate medical treatment, including abortion care if that’s what’s medically indicated.

The  bill’s proponents will first tell you that this is necessary to protect  religiously affiliated hospitals, and then claim that there’s no such thing as  emergency abortion care (which begs the question of why they’re so intent on  overriding it).  They’re wrong on both fronts.

First,  the denial of appropriate medical care to a woman suffering from emergency pregnancy complications can be devastating.   The following story recorded in the American  Journal of Public Health is just one example:

A woman with a condition that  prevented her blood from clotting was in the process of miscarrying at a  Catholic-owned hospital.  According to  her doctor, she was dying before his eyes, her eyes filling with blood.  But even though her life was in danger, and  the fetus had no chance of survival, the hospital wouldn’t let the doctor treat  her by terminating the pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat ceased of its own  accord.  She ended up in the I.C.U.

Second,  even the Catholic Health Association, the leadership organization for Catholic  hospitals — hardly an anti-religious or pro-choice lobby — has told Congress  that they don’t “believe that there is a need for the [refusal] section to  apply to EMTALA.” The very  institutions on whose behalf this heinous provision has been proposed are  saying “don’t do this.” But so  far, the bill’s sponsors remain unmoved.

Every representative who voted for this bill should hear from you and be made to think about the woman, mid-miscarriage, bleeding and scared out of her  wits, who rushes to the nearest hospital only to be told by her doctor that he’s  not allowed to treat her.  Think about  that woman, and then tell us — what  are you going to do?

 

By: Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Policy Counsel, ACLU Legislative Office, Published in RH Reality Check, October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Anti-Choice, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Health Care, Ideologues, Politics, Pro-Choice, Republicans, Right Wing, Women | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Reasons The Occupy Wall Street Movement Really Frightens The Right

The Occupy Wall Street movement really frightens the Right Wing. It is not frightening to the Right because of Congressman Eric Cantor’s feigned fear of “the mob” that is “occupying our cities.” It is not frightening because anyone is really worried that Glenn Beck is correct when he predicts that the protesters will “come for you, drag you into the street, and kill you.”

That’s not why they are really frightened — that’s the Right trying to frighten everyday Americans.

There are five reasons why the Right is in fact frightened by the Occupy Wall Street movement. None of them have to do with physical violence — they have to do with politics. They’re not really worried about ending up like Marie Antoinette. But they are very worried that their electoral heads may roll.

All elections are decided by two groups of people:

Persuadable voters who always vote, but are undecided switch hitters. This group includes lots of political independents.

Mobilizable voters who would vote for one Party or the other, but have to be motivated to vote.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is so frightening to the Right because it may directly affect the behavior of those two groups of voters in the upcoming election.

1). The narrative

People in America are very unhappy with their economic circumstances. As a result the outcome of the 2012 election will hinge heavily on who gets the blame for the horrible economy — and who the public believes, or hopes — can lead them into better economic times.

Political narratives are the stories people use to understand the political world. Like all stories, they define a protagonist and antagonist. And political narratives generally ascribe to those central characters moral qualities — right and wrong.

For several years, the Tea Party-driven narrative has been in the ascendance to explain America’s economic woes. Its vision of the elites in government versus hard-working freedom-loving people has heavily defined the national political debate.

Of course at first glance it’s an easy case for them to make. The President, who is the head of the over-powerful, “dysfunctional” government, is in charge. Things aren’t going well — so he, and the government he runs, must be at fault.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has helped force the alternative narrative into the media and public consciousness. The recklessness and greed of the big Wall Street banks, CEO’s and top one percent — those are the culprits who sunk the economy and who have siphoned off all of the economic growth from the middle class. They and their enablers in Congress — largely Republicans — are the problem. To address the underlying economic crisis facing everyday Americans we must rein in their power.

This narrative is very compelling and, of course, it is true. It’s not that many voices haven’t framed the debate in these terms for years. But by creating a must- cover story, the Occupy Wall Street movement has forced it onto the daily media agenda. That is great news for Progressives. The longer it continues, the better.

Right Wing pundits have disparaged the Occupy Wall Street movement for not having specific “policy proposals” — but the Right knows better. The Occupy Wall Street movement is advocating something much more fundamental. It is demanding a change in the relations of power — reining in the power of Wall Street, millionaires and billionaires – the CEO class as a whole. It is demanding that everyday Americans — the 99% — share in the increases in their productivity and have more real control of their futures — both individually and as a society. Now that’s something for the Right to worry about.

2). Inside-Outside

Especially in periods when people are unhappy, the political high ground is defined by who voters perceive to be elite insiders and who they perceive to be populist outsiders. Who among the political leaders and political forces are actually agents of change?

In 2008, Barak Obama won that battle hands down. The Tea Party Movement muddied the water. It portrayed themselves as “don’t tread on me” populist outsiders doing battle with President Obama the elite, liberal insider.

Of course this ignores that the Tea Party was in many ways bought and paid for by huge corporate interests — but in the public mind it was a very compelling image.

The Right Wing has always had its own version of “class conflict.” Its “ruling class” is defined as the elite, intellectuals, bureaucrats, entertainers and academics that are out to destroy traditional values and undermine the well-being of ordinary Americans.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, coupled with the movements in Wisconsin and Ohio earlier this year, present an entirely different — and accurate — picture of who is on the inside and who is not.

3). Momentum

Politics is very much about momentum. Human beings are herding creatures — they travel in packs. People like to go with the flow. Whether in election campaigns, or legislative proposals, or social movements, or football games — the team with the momentum is much more likely to win.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has put the progressive forces in society on the offense — it has begun to build progressive momentum.

4). Movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement has managed to turn itself into a real “movement.” Movements don’t involve your normal run-of-the-mill organizing. Normally organizers have to worry about turning out people — or voters — one person or one group at a time. Not so with movements.

Movements go viral. They involve spontaneous chain reactions. One person engages another person, who engages another and so on. Like nuclear chain reactions, movements reach critical mass and explode.

That’s what makes them so potentially powerful — and so dangerous to their opposition.

Often movements are sparked by unexpected precipitating events — like the death of the fruit stand vendor in Tunisia that set off the Arab Spring. Sometimes they build around the determined effort of a few until that critical mass is reached.

In all cases movements explode because the tinder is dry and one unexpected spark can set off a wild fire.

Movements mobilize enormous resources — individual effort, money, person power – by motivating people to take spontaneous action.

The Occupy Wall Street movement in New York has spread to scores of cities — and the fire shows no sign of flaming out. It will fuel the engagement and remobilization of thousands of progressive activists and volunteers who had been demobilized and demoralized, but the sausage-making of the DC legislative process. That is a huge problem for the right that was counting on despondency and lethargy among progressives to allow them to consolidate their hold on political power in 2012.

5). Inspiration

More than anything else, in order to mount a counter-offensive against the Right wing next year, Progressives need to re-inspire our base. We need to re-inspire young people and all of the massive corps of volunteers who powered the victory in 2008.

Inspiration is critical to mobilization. It is also critical to persuasion. Swing voters want leaders who inspire them.

Inspiration is not about what people think — it’s about what they feel about themselves. When you’re inspired you feel empowered. You feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself, and that you — yourself — can play a significant role in achieving that larger goal.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has begun to inspire people all over America. That’s because people are inspired by example. They themselves are inspired if they see others standing up for themselves — speaking truth to power — standing up in the face of strong, entrenched opposition. People are inspired by heroic acts — by commitment — by people who say they are so committed that they will stay in a park next to Wall Street until they make change. That’s what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. That’s what happened in Wisconsin this spring.

The legacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement could very well be the re-inspiration of tens of thousands of Progressives — and the engagement of young people that are so important to the future of the progressive movement in America.

Right-wingers will plant provocateurs in an attempt to stigmatize the Occupy Wall Street movement with violence — to make it look frightening. But if the Movement continues with the kind of single-minded purpose and commitment that we have seen so far, the Occupy Wall Street movement may very well make history. It has already become an enormous progressive asset as America approaches the critical crossroad election that could determine whether the next American generation experiences the American Dream or simply reads about it in their history books.

By: Robert Creamer, Published in Huff Post Politics, October 12, 2011

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Economy, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Human Rights, Middle Class, Public Opinion, Teaparty, Voters, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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