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“Dangerously Unmoored From The American Consensus”: The GOP Is Crazier Than You Thought

In his latest speech, the president presents the modern Republican Party as a radical aberration from the American consensus.

If there was a question President Obama tried to answer with his speech this afternoon to the Associated Press, it was this—“what happened to the Republican Party?” And to that end, he marshaled evidence from a century of political history to show that today’s Grand Old Party is dangerously unmoored from the American consensus, with a budget proposal that amounts to “thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

To a large degree, Obama’s speech was filled with the frustration of liberals who see the extent to which the Republican Party has rejected the notion of a government that works positively within the economy. “It was Dwight Eisenhower who launched the interstate highway system and made investments in scientific research … Reagan worked with Democrats to save Social Security … It was George W. Bush who expanded Medicare to include prescription drug coverage,” he said, citing Republican presidents who worked to strengthen the social safety net over the course of the last century. “What leaders in both parties have traditionally understood,” he declared, “is that these programs aren’t schemes to redistribute wealth … they are signs that we are one nation.”

Today’s Republican Party, Obama argued, has abandoned this traditional understanding, in favor of a “failed approach” of trickle-down economics. “In this country, broad-based prosperity has never come from the success of a wealthy few,” he said.

Case in point is Paul Ryan’s latest budget, which—like his Roadmap released last year—would require massive cuts to existing social spending and destroy any semblance of fairness in the economy, as the rich received huge benefits from an economy slanted in their favor. As Obama described it, “The Republicans have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right that it makes the Contract for America look like the New Deal.”

Indeed, Obama took the time to illustrate the extent to which the Ryan budget would demolish the federal government as we know it, citing the millions of people who would lose health care coverage with Medicaid cuts, the millions of children who would lose access to healthy food with WIC cuts, and the millions of students who would lose a shot at college because of cuts to Pell Grants and other programs designed to make school more affordable.

He pointed out that while Republicans refuse to say where they would make cuts, cuts have to happen if we adopt their budget, “Perhaps they will never tell us where the knife will fall, but you can be sure that with cuts this deep, there will never be a secret plan to protect the investments we need for our economy to grow. This is not conjecture, I am not exaggerating, these are facts.”

From his aggressive tone to his sharp and clear language, this was a campaign speech, and he took care to tie his likely competitor—former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney—to the policies pushed by congressional Republicans. “He called it ‘marvelous’,” said Obama, highlighting the degree to which the “Path to Prosperity” is the Republican Party platform for 2012.

I said this morning that thanks to the short-sighted ideological fervor of Paul Ryan, Obama can make a strong and clear case against the Republican Party. I didn’t realize that this would also be a brutal indictment of the party’s priorities. With his speech, Obama presented the GOP as the defenders of a failed ideology that would leave most Americans trapped in their station, struggling in a hostile economy. If this sounds far-fetched, look no further than the last three years—Republicans have either pushed to eliminate regulations and cut taxes on the rich, or they have stood against any effort to make the economy more fair, or put some restraints on those who caused the financial crisis.

Obama’s challenge is to convince the public that Republicans would continue on that path if elected to office. At the risk of sounding too certain, I think he can do it.


By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, April 3, 2012

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Divided And Undisciplined”: The GOP Circus 
Is In Town

Even Republicans have to be laughing at the circus sideshow the GOP presidential candidates are putting on. The Mitt-Rick-Herman act was so comical this week it looks concerted, almost like they collaborated with the Democratic National Committee. Team Obama is grinning so hard its ears are hurting, because 10 weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, the Republican Party is divided, the candidates are undisciplined and the voters don’t love any of them. Just in time for the real ugliness to begin a few weeks from now.

The marquee moment belongs to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, of course, indulging in birtherism on Monday night so that he could step on Tuesday’s rollout of his flat-tax plan. Sure, Perry tried to discount the birth-certificate controversy — sort of — while throwing some greasy scraps to the Trumpsters who still believe a U.S. president has actually released a fake certificate.

“I’m not really worried about the president’s birth certificate,” Perry said in an interview with CNBC. “It’s fun to poke at him a little bit and say, ‘Hey, how about, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ ” Perry made sure to mention that Donald Trump recently said he didn’t think the birth certificate was real. And he said it’s “a good issue to keep alive.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could have jumped all over that — if he hadn’t been busy shooting himself in the foot in the battleground state of Ohio. Yes, Romney decided a fresh flip-flop was in order, despite the fact that his critics are happy to savor his many others. While at a Republican call center in Ohio, he refused to comment on an Ohio law limiting collective bargaining that he had expressed support for months ago. After being pummeled by conservatives, Romney reiterated his, um, previous support.

Herman Cain, who tops the GOP field in a new CBS/New York Times poll, spent the last few days telling reporters who asked tough policy questions that he needed a little more time to think of an answer. He learned the hard way by saying on CNN that abortion is a family’s choice. Whoops — better to leave details out of this whole thing. Cain still can’t really be found on the campaign trail. No, the motivational speaker was in Texas selling books and giving a speech. And despite Perry’s attempt to beat Cain at his 9-9-9 game with a flat-tax plan, Cain-world still scored much buzz with a weirdo Web ad featuring his campaign manager Mark Block smoking into the camera. It already has more than 387,000 hits on YouTube.

With that kind of juice, who needs to endure the icy winds of the door-to-door campaigning Iowans demand of their caucus winners? If Cain continues to surge without leaving the book tour, then we will know that talking to voters in town-hall meetings and asking for their support is no longer necessary. In fact, perhaps televised debates aren’t, either. Perry told Bill O’Reilly in an interview on Fox News on Tuesday that while his debate performances have been disappointing, the debates themselves are a mistake. “If there was a mistake, it was probably ever doing one of the campaign [debates] when all they’re interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people.” His campaign said Perry will attend one more in Michigan, but beyond that he might be a no-show.

That’s understandable. Questions at debates about serious policy matters — like what his response would be to the Taliban gaining control of Pakistani’s nuclear weapons — just aren’t Rick Perry’s idea of “fun.”


By: A. B. Stoddard, Associate Editor, The Hill, October 26, 2011

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Class Warfare, Democracy, Democrats, Economy, Elections, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Libertarians, Middle Class, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leader Of A Cadre Of Children: It Sucks To Be John Boehner

Mea culpa.

I confess that I have often picked on, made fun of, and generally disparaged Speaker of the House John Boehner only to now find myself feeling a measure of remorse for having done so.

It turns out that Speaker Boehner may be the only semi-reasonable man left in the Republican Party.

Yes, I know that Boehner has himself to blame for the role he played in opening the doors of Congress to the unyielding and unreasonable Members swept into office by the Tea Party rebellion in 2010. Yes, Boehner has spent far too many years cozying up to Wall Street and protecting the interests of big business at the expense of the middle class.

And just in case you’re wondering, I have not forgotten that John Boehner has long been quick to condemn the White House for the jobs crisis while doing absolutely nothing to assist in creating policy that would help solve the problem. Boehner has been a continuing impediment to growing American jobs by working with Obama on infrastructure legislation or any other valuable stimulus that could make a big difference for the many who are suffering from extended unemployment.

Still, you have to admit that it sucks to be John Boehner.

Imagine if you had to make decisions regarding the successful operation of your own home and your three year old, five year old and two year old each had a full vote in the decisions that are ultimately taken.

Say it’s time to buy the new family car. The two eldest of the three kids decide that the only sensible vehicle to purchase would be an ice cream truck filled to the top with Good Humor ice cream bars and, as an added option, comes with the happy song that streams from the scratchy PA system perched on the roof.

From the point of view of children of such an age, this choice makes total sense.

Yet, when the grown-ups must point out that such a purchase would neither be practical nor in the best interest of the family and cast their votes for a new, American made family minivan, it is left to the two year old to break the tie.

That can’t be good.

Welcome to John Boehner’s world – a world where he is the leader of a cadre of children who have yet to mature to the point where they warrant election to the post of school hall monitor let alone the halls of Congress.

As David Brooks wrote in his New York Times column earlier this week complaining about the GOP’s inability to just say yes to a good deal on the deficit-

That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.” Via New York Times

I don’t know about your experience, but what Brooks describes sounds an awful lot like my own kids before they were old enough to reason and make adult decisions.

If these immature Members of Congress were not enough of a problem for an old school deal maker like Boehner, the Speaker has to contend with a scheming GOP Majority Leader in Eric Cantor who waits behind every door with a dagger aimed squarely at his boss’s heart.

I wouldn’t bet against Cantor’s ultimate success in playing Brutus to Boehner’s Caesar as the Speaker remains caught between a Ba-rack and a Tea Party with nowhere to turn to get out of the mess.

Speaker Boehner knows the debt ceiling must be raised and has been willing to publicly say so as recently as this morning. He also knows that Congress must take great care to do nothing to further stifle the struggling economy just as he realizes all too well that he will need Democratic votes to get whatever deal he cuts with the President through the House as he won’t be able to count on his own Members.

This leaves Boehner to walk an impossible line between doing what he believes is necessary for the nation he is charged with governing and those who would ride the country into the ground in order to protect wealthy industries from losing a few unnecessary tax subsidies or, even worse, support keeping the economy mired in quicksand in order to better evict Barack Obama from the White House.

E.J. Dionne summed it up this way –

I’d actually feel bad for Boehner — an old-fashioned sort who’d normally reach for a deal — if he and his party had not shamelessly stoked the Tea Party to win power. The GOP is now reaping the whirlwind, and Boehner may be forced to choose between his country and his job. Via Washington Post

Unlike Dionne, I actually do feel badly for Boehner as he tries to make a deal and still hold onto his job. And I will feel more than badly for the entire nation should we find ourselves with Eric Cantor sitting in the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Whether you sympathize with the man or, like Dionne, believes he is just getting what’s coming to him, you have to to agree on one thing –

It truly does suck to be John Boehner.


By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, July 8, 2011

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Big Business, Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Tea Party, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Tea Party Killing The Republican Party?

Conservatives are between a rock and a hard place. The Tea Party is in and the GOP is out. Tea Party is a brand that is popular with conservative voters but doesn’t have a national financial base. The Republican Party has a national finance infrastructure but it has been obliterated ideologically by the Tea Party. The emergence of the Tea Party keeps Karl Rove and other D.C. Republicans awake at night. But I’m not losing any sleep because of Karl Rove’s nightmares.

It wouldn’t be the first time in American history that an upstart has killed a party. In the 1840s and 1850s the Whigs gave way to the Republican Party. The old party wouldn’t or couldn’t take a strong antislavery position while Republicans did. The Republicans blossomed as the party of a strong national government while Democrats remained in the GOP’s dust as the party of rebellion and states’ rights. Timing is everything in politics and Democrats continued to fight for state power, right after a war that established the dominance of national power over states’ rights.

Or the opposite may happen. Populism gained favor in the 1890s because of its strong stance against corporate and government corruption but Democrats saved themselves and absorbed the populists by dropping its corporate coziness and becoming a peoples’ party.

And even though the great populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan lost the presidential elections in 1896, 1900 and 1908, the Great Commoner transformed a states’ rights party into a national force that produced the platform for presidential victories by Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916 and by FDR in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and by Harry Truman in 1948.

In the 2010 primary elections, the Tea Party prevailed in just about every race against an establishment Republican congressional candidate. The GOP’s tendency to eat its own young prevented them from winning the Senate in 2010 and may stop win from winning the presidency and the U.S. Senate in 2012.

My guess is the Democratic leader of the Senate offers a daily prayer to the Tea Party. If the Republicans had not nominated Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite to oppose him, he would not be a U.S. senator. If the Tea Party hadn’t nominated extremists in Senate campaigns, he wouldn’t be the majority leader if he had been re-elected.

Last year, the GOP nominated Tea Party extremists and consequently lost Senate races in in three states where the party should have won. The candidates were Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado. In this cycle, the Tea party is going after moderately conservative GOP senators, Dick Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe in Maine. The Tea Party might very well win both primaries and hand over solid Republican seats to new Democratic senators and allow them to take the Senate back from Republicans.

But I’m not losing any sleep over that either.

By: Brad Brannon, U. S. News and World Report, June 2, 2011

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Populism, Republicans, Senate, States, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Irony Of Tax Day: The Dwindling, Victorious Tea Party

In case you didn’t notice, today is Tax Day, which means it’s also the second anniversary of one of the tea party movement’s biggest moments, April 15, 2009, when dozens, if not hundreds, of well-attended protests were held around the country.

It was a coming-out party of sorts for the movement. No one really knew what the tea party was at that point, and, as momentum built toward the Tax Day rallies, details began to emerge regarding just who they were, and who was organizing them.

Today, the movement seems to be dwindling.

Tax Day, 2011, came and has largely gone without the same kind of massive, irate throngs in every state and major city. We can attribute that, to some degree, to the scheduling shift of Tax Day to April 18 and the movement’s consequent dispersed focus, holding rallies on Friday, Monday, and over the weekend, rather than on just a single day. But you can’t deny that, as an activist movement, the tea party has lost some momentum, attendance-wise.

A Michele Bachmann rally in South Carolina Monday drew a measly 300 people. A few weeks ago, maybe a couple hundred showed up to a Capitol Hill protests held by Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party membership group, which once estimated its membership at over 15 million. It was hard to tell how many were there to participate and how many were there to spectate and the tea partiers were almost outnumbered by the reporters.

A Virginia tea party activist told me recently that members of his group are spread too thin. “We’re kind of saturated right now,” he said, explaining that different people and groups ask them to do too many things. He showed me a few of the emails sent around to members, asking various things of them. It’s a problem, he said.

As the activist infrastructure has built up, so have the demands on individual activists. With the initial fervor wearing off, it makes for a tired bunch of crusaders.

And yet the tea party seems to have accomplished its main goal: bending the will of the Republican Party.

Republican politicians widely cater messages and platforms to a tea party audience. Listening to what is said by Republican presidential contenders, House members, and candidates for office, it’s tough to argue the tea party hasn’t left its mark. It’s taboo not to talk about drastic cuts to federal spending, whether or not one has a plan for the specifics.

During the midterms, Republican candidates met with tea party groups, seeking their approval. It became impossible to distinguish a “tea party” candidate from a regular Republican.

That effect has carried over into 2012. The Tea Party Express will partner with CNN to host a GOP presidential debate, and the movement’s influence will finally be institutionalized in the 2012 primary contest.

Perhaps most significantly, Washington is now engaged in a serious discussion of how to reduce spending levels over the long term. While President Obama rejected the House GOP’s drastic 2012 budget proposal out of hand, it’s safe to say he was forced by November’s results and the tea-party-fueled GOP House takeover to propose a big number, $4 trillion, of cuts from the deficit over the next 12 years.

The tea party movement can legitimately take some credit for that. We’ll find out, as the 2012 election approaches, just how much gas is left in the tea party’s tank. It’s likely that the GOP 2012 contest and the tea party’s rallies will blend into one continuous political event, with candidates taking turns on stage and with lots of people turning out.

But the movement is in an ironic place now. Without an election this year and with attendance tapering off, it’s also become institutionalized as a fixture in American politics, having possibly swayed enough 2012 candidates to preempt the presidential primary from even being a flashpoint in the GOP’s identity.

Apparently what we’re seeing now is what victory looks like.

By: Chris Good, The Atlantic, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Liberty, Media, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, States, Taxes, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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