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Dear Red America, Newt Gingrich Does Not Respect You

Ross Douthat offers a fleshed-out version of what a lot of conservative intellectuals are saying about Jon Huntsman: that the former Utah governor is genuinely conservative, more likely than anyone to prevail in a general election, and possessed of substantive policy answers to the nation’s most serious problems.

There’s just one problem.

“His salesmanship has been staggeringly inept. Huntsman’s campaign was always destined to be hobbled by the two years he spent as President Obama’s ambassador to China,” Douthat writes. “But he compounded the handicap by introducing himself to the Republican electorate with a series of symbolic jabs at the party’s base. He picked high-profile fights on two hot-button issues — evolution and global warming — that were completely irrelevant to his candidacy’s rationale. He let his campaign manager define his candidacy as a fight to save the Republican Party from a ‘bunch of cranks.’ And he embraced his identity as the media’s favorite Republican by letting the liberal journalist Jacob Weisberg write a fawning profile for Vogue.”

Summing up, Douthat comments that “This was political malpractice at its worst. Voters don’t necessarily need to like a candidate to vote for him, but they need to think that he likes them.”

Is he right?

If so, I have some information for the GOP base that should change how they feel about the relative merits of Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. Let me level with you, Red America: Huntsman does indeed believe that many of you are wrong about evolution and global warming. But he hasn’t shown anywhere near as much contempt and disrespect for you as Gingrich.

Yes, I know, you remember Gingrich as the man who conceived of the Contract With America. But there’s a lot more to him than that. This is a D.C. insider who thinks you’re dumb enough to believe that he got paid $1.6 million from Freddie Mac for his services as “a historian”; a man who ridiculed Freddie publicly after privately working to advance its favored policies; Gingrich still expects you to believe his disingenuous claim that he never engaged in lobbying for special interests; he is a man who tried in a televised debate to pretend that he hadn’t supported an individual mandate in health care, only to be successfully called out by an opponent; he is even someone who tried to tell you, with a straight face, that the breakup of one of his marriages could be blamed partly on how passionately he felt about America (he had an extramarital affair).

That’s just for starters.

So if any of you felt disrespected by Huntsman for forthrightly saying that he thinks you’re wrong about a couple of things, understand that it could be much worse. You could embrace a nominee who just lies to you when he thinks you won’t like hearing the truth. And who tells such audacious whoppers that part of him has to believe that we’re all stupid.

What shows more contempt and disrespect, telling someone you think one of their ideas is wrongheaded? Or lying to them over and over about your record, your character, and your business dealings?

Your call, Red America.

By: Conor Friedersdorf , The Atlantic, December 2, 2011

December 4, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Right Wing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Morally Inept: The New GOP Resentment Of The Poor

In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.

These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.

Until fairly recently, Republicans, at least, have been fairly consistent in their position that tax cuts should benefit everyone. Though the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich, they did lower rates for almost all taxpayers, providing a veneer of egalitarianism. Then the recession pushed down incomes severely, many below the minimum income tax level, and the stimulus act lowered that level further with new tax cuts. The number of families not paying income tax has risen from about 30 percent before the recession to about half, and, suddenly, Republicans have a new tool to stoke class resentment.

Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax.

Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”

This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.

Economically, reducing the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit — which would be required if everyone paid income taxes — makes no sense at a time of high unemployment. The credits, which only go to working people, have always been a strong incentive to work, as even some conservative economists say, and have increased the labor force while reducing the welfare rolls.

The moral argument would have been obvious before this polarized year. Nearly 90 percent of the families that paid no income tax make less than $40,000, most much less. The real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes. The two tax credits lifted 7.2 million people out of poverty in 2009, including four million children. At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.

By: Editorial, The New York Times, August 30, 2011

September 1, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Consumers, Corporations, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Jobs, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Credits, Tax Hike Prevention Act 2010, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP Is Fed Up With Its Choices

In theory, Democrats should be nervous about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to enter the presidential race. In practice, though, it’s Republicans who have zoomed up the anxiety ladder into freak-out mode.

To clarify, not all Republicans are reaching for the Xanax, just those who believe the party has to appeal to centrist independents if it hopes to defeat President Obama next year. Also, those who believe that calling Social Security “an illegal Ponzi scheme” and suggesting that Medicare is unconstitutional might not be the best way to win the votes of senior citizens.

These and other wild-eyed views are set out in Perry’s book “Fed Up!” His campaign has already begun trying to distance the governor from his words, with communications director Ray Sullivan saying last week that the book “is a look back, not a path forward” — that “Fed Up!” was intended “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto.”

One problem with this attempted explanation is that the book was published way back in . . . the fall of 2010. It’s reasonable to assume that if Perry held a bunch of radical, loony views less than a year ago, he holds them today.

Another problem is that as recently as Aug. 14, according to the Wall Street Journal, Perry responded to an Iowa voter who asked how he would fix entitlement programs by saying, “Have you read my book, ‘Fed Up!’? Get a copy and read it.

But Perry doesn’t give us time to plow through his tome, what with his frequent newsmaking forays onto the rhetorical fringe. He had barely been in the race for 48 hours when he announced it would be “treasonous” for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to increase the money supply before the 2012 election. If Bernanke did so, Perry said, “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.”

The outburst allowed Ron Paul, who has spent years calling for the Fed to be abolished, to say of Perry: “He makes me look like a moderate.

Perry made no attempt to disavow his remarks about Bernanke. Whatever his campaign staff might wish, the candidate apparently does not warm to the task of disavowal.

Soon Perry moved on to the science of climate change, which “Fed Up!” dismisses as a “contrived phony mess.” Perry told an audience in New Hampshire that “a substantial number of scientists” have acted in bad faith, manipulating data “so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects.” Perry added that “we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

None of that is true. There is overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that human activity — especially the burning of fossil fuels — is contributing to climate change. Multiple investigations have found no evidence of fraud or manipulation of data. Unless Perry is ready to publish fundamental new insights into physical and chemical processes at the molecular level, his swaggering stance against climate science is all hat and no cattle.

“The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem,” candidate Jon Huntsman said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” — a declaration that makes me wonder how familiar Huntsman is with the political organization he seeks to lead.

Also in his first week of campaigning, Perry suggested that the military doesn’t respect Obama as commander in chief — and, when asked whether he believes Obama loves America, told a reporter that “you need to ask him.” This is music to the ears of the hate-Obama crowd on the far right. But mainstream voters, whether or not they support Obama’s policies, generally like the president, do not question his patriotism and want him to succeed.

“I think when you find yourself at an extreme end of the Republican Party,” Huntsman said of Perry, “you make yourself unelectable.”

He’s correct. But maybe we shouldn’t take his word for it, or Ron Paul’s word — after all, they’re Perry’s opponents. Maybe we also shouldn’t take the word of Karl Rove, who called Perry’s remarks “unpresidential,” since Texas apparently isn’t big enough for the George W. Bush camp and the Rick Perry camp to coexist without feuding.

Suffice it to note that two weeks ago, GOP luminaries were scrambling to find new candidates. And now, after Perry’s debut? Still scrambling, I’m afraid.

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, August 22, 2011

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Climate Change, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Environment, Global Warming, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Independents, Medicare, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, Social Security, Swing Voters, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republican Preachers: Believing What You Know Ain’t True

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes a stinging observation on the overtly religious. “Faith is when you believe something you know ain’t true.” This is a perfect description of the religious asylum that is now the Republican Party and the tortured gospel they are spreading all over the country. Virtually the entire barnyard of their presidential candidates are preaching a mix of born again religious revivalism and brutal 19th century industrial capitalism, that they “know ain’t even remotely true.”

By and large these are not genetically stupid people. But the political trash talking they feel obligated to serve up to the Tea Party Gods–Rush Limbaugh and the inquisitors at Fox–has degenerated into a competition of who can do the best impression of an absolute lunatic. Rick Perry is preaching virtual secession from the union, while holding prayer vigils for God to solve our problems. By what twisted logic does contempt for the federal government and even secession equate to patriotism? Someone please show me where the founding fathers advocated prayer as the vehicle for solving a national debt crisis?

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have flip flopped on virtually every position they ever espoused so that their insanity titers can match Michelle Bachmann’s. I’ve met with Jon Huntsman on more than one occasion regarding environmental issues in Utah. He was a reasonable moderate Republican as my state’s governor and appeared on TV ads three years ago exhorting the entire country to act on the climate crisis. He did that because he respected the warnings of our climate scientists. Now he says we can’t deal with global warming in a depressed economy. He knows perfectly well that those same scientists are warning that if we don’t act on it right now, we condemn our children to a brutal, dangerous and likely unlivable world. Newt Gingrich? He appeared on national TV ads with Nancy Pelosi saying that he agreed on the urgency to deal with the climate crisis. Now he looks like a Keystone Cop, tripping over his own feet in full speed reverse.

Sarah Palin? Oh, never mind. Rick Santorum? According to him the world’s scientists are all in on a conspiracy with Al Gore. Really Rick? That conspiracy would have to have started in 1824 when the greenhouse gas phenomenon was first described by the French scientist Joseph Fourier. It would have to have involved scores of scientists in the 1800s like John Tyndall of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, George Marsh, the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, and hundreds of scientists in the 1900s like 1903 Nobel Prize winner Svante Arrhenius. The conspiracy would now have to involve virtually the entire world’s scientific community. That makes sense to you, Rick? Really?

Almost as irritating is the chorus sung over and over by Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and 99% of Republican Congressmen proudly declaring their Huckleberry Finn type faith that an unfettered free market is the only way to create to millions of new jobs. “Stop choking businesses with excessive regulations!” they chant. All businesses, all regulations. Really, Mitch? Never mind that it was precisely the elimination of, inadequacy of, or lack of enforcement of federal regulation that allowed Wall St. to drag the economy to the edge of the apocalypse and the very reason why there are no jobs. Never mind that it was poor regulation and free market cost cutting that brought us the Deep Water Horizon, Kalamazoo River, and now Yellowstone River oil spills. 1,800 oil spills have occurred in this country in the last five years totaling 16 million gallons of oil contaminating our land and water. And Mitt, you want regulators to get off the backs of the oil companies? Really?

Never mind that it was inadequate federal oversight and greedy, unfettered capitalism on steroids that allowed Massey Energy to commit manslaughter on 29 coal miners last year. Hey, Eric just what jobs are created by paring down our already bare bones federal food inspection? Will even more outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella in peanut butter, spinach, eggs, cantaloupe, sprouts and hamburger be counted as just collateral blessings from unleashing the free market? We certainly don’t want to pay for inspection of imported sea food from Japan because a little radioactivity in your tuna fish and scallops would probably just make it taste a little more crunchy.

Hey Newt, what jobs will be created by eviscerating the EPA and their enforcement of the Clean Air Act besides morticians and health care providers? Michelle, so you’re comfortable with eliminating money for bridge inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board because the one that collapsed in your home state in 2007 only killed 13 people, and that’s a small price to pay for that warm, orgasmic tingle only the free market can give?

Lets certainly get regulators off the backs of the pharmaceutical industry because other than the millions of people who have been killed or injured by Phen-Fen, Vioxx, Avandia, Bextra, Cylert, Baycol, Palladone, Trasylol, Tylenol, Darvocet, Heparin and all the drugs now made with ingredients from China without any real standards or controls–i.e. most of them–there’s no reason to think an unregulated free market won’t work out just fine. Really, Sarah? So if defective and tainted drugs weed out the weak among us, that’s just the beauty of the Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman world view?

The entire middle class is struggling with unemployment, under employment, mounting debt, lost pensions, mortgages foreclosed or underwater, and you want to undo even the pathetic protections of the 2010 Consumer Protection Act and put Elizabeth Warren’s head on a platter? Really, Speaker Boehner? That’s the job elixir the middle class so desperately need?

As with most religions the Church of Unfettered Capitalism doesn’t have to make sense in order to thrive. But it does need preachers at the pulpit exhorting us to “believe in things that we know ain’t true” and the Republican Party can’t get enough of them. Huckleberry Finn would be so proud.

By: Brian Moench,, July 9, 2011

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Big Pharma, Capitalism, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Debt Ceiling, Democracy, Economy, Energy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Unemployed, Wall Street, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback 2007: Tim Pawlenty Proposed Establishing A Health Insurance Exchange

Politico’s Kendra Marr and Kate Nocera reviewthe health care records of the GOP presidential candidates and find that Mitt Romney isn’t the only contender who previously supported parts of the Affordable Care Act. Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich all flirted with various provisions that ultimately ended up in the health law.

ThinkProgress Health reported on Pawlenty’s past support for “universal coverage” here, and his positive assessment of Massachusetts’ individual mandate, but Cal Ludeman, his commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, recalls that Pawlenty also advocated for establishing an exchange:

Minnesota’s exchange proposal would have required all employers with more than 10 employees to create a “section 125 plan” so workers could buy cheaper insurance with pre-tax dollars. During a 2007 news conference, Pawlenty said launching such a system would only cost employers about $300.

“Remember how new that idea was, even back then,” said Ludeman. “Everybody was talking about how this was a new Orbitz or Travelocity, where you just go shop. It was never talked about in our conversations as a hard mandated only channel where you could go. But that’s where Massachusetts ended up.”

Pawlenty advanced the non-profit Minnesota Insurance Exchange in 2007, arguing that it could “connect employers and workers with more affordable health coverage options.” “If just two of your employees go out and buy insurance through the exchange, the benefits to the employer on a pre-tax basis — because of their payments to Social Security and otherwise into the 125 plan — more than cover the cost of setting up the plan,” Pawlenty explained.

The exchange originated as a Republican idea and was developed in part by the Heritage Foundation’s Stuart Butler. The measure was eventually adopted by Mitt Romney and later became part of the Democrats’ health reform plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, states that don’t establish their own exchanges by 2014, cede control of the new health market places to the federal government. In 2010, while still governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty rejected the ACA’s “insurance exchanges,” dubbing them a federal takeover.


By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, Democrats, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Individual Mandate, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Under Insured, Uninsured | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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