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“Republicans Are Plotting Economic Disaster For 2016: The American People Will Be The Collateral Damage

Since George W. Bush’s presidency, Republican economic ideas have become drastically more conservative. Instead of massive tax cuts for the rich coupled with a general tolerance of the rest of government (or even new welfare programs), the party is now committed to much larger tax cuts coupled with eye-watering cuts to government.

Every Republican presidential candidate proposes staggering tax cuts heavily weighted toward the rich. Donald Trump would give the top one-thousandth of taxpayers $1.3 million apiece per year, while Ted Cruz would give them an even $2 million. Trump does favor preserving the welfare state, but he is a marked outsider in this respect. The entire rest of the party is committed to gigantic cuts to welfare, as shown by the budget formulated by House Republicans. Their most recent plan would slash $5.3 trillion in spending over a decade, 69 percent of which would come from programs for the needy.

The party’s intellectual apparatus (distinct from the Trumpist insurgency) has more-or-less fully regressed to an economic libertarianism straight out of the 1920s. They view basically all government programs outside of the military and the courts as illegitimate, to be slashed or eliminated wherever possible. The only problem with this is that when you try it, the results are immediate disaster.

Republicans haven’t been able to fully implement their plan of tax and service cuts on the federal level, but they have tried it in a few places on the state level. Louisiana under Gov. Bobby Jindal has had it the worst. Jindal’s massive cuts to education and services were not nearly enough to cover his gigantic tax cuts, and draining every rainy day fund in the state only delayed the day of reckoning. Eventually the results were so disastrous that the unthinkable happened — a Democrat replaced Jindal. Now Gov. John Bel Edwards is scrambling to deal with the most extreme budgetary emergency of any state government in decades, working feverishly just to keep the state from literal financial collapse.

Kansas is also suffering from Republican quack economics. Gov. Sam Brownback (who barely scraped through re-election in 2014 and now sits at a 21-percent approval rating) tried the same tricks as Jindal, though to a somewhat lesser degree, and the results were similar: a huge budget deficit with none of the promised explosive growth or job gains. Now Kansas conservatives are running into problems with the state’s Supreme Court, which found legal problems with the distribution of education cuts. Their solution: Attack the justices politically, by drawing up a new impeachment law and trying to get them thrown out in an upcoming confirmation election.

It’s the same story in Wisconsin with both deficits and lousy economic performance. Gov. Scott Walker’s major innovation has been an effort to basically destroy the Wisconsin state university system with drastic cuts and the abolishment of tenure, which is already leading to serious problems at the flagship school in Madison.

However, it could have been worse for all these states. The federal government, with its grants, its spending on social programs, and its employment of in-state government workers and contractors, provides a buffer of spending state governments cannot cut. For example, Louisiana gets over 40 percent of its state budget from the feds, as well as $5,917 per person in social spending, $3.5 billion in federal contracts, and $5.3 billion in compensation paid to almost 68,000 federal workers (as of the most recent data). That’s $48 billion in income against $39 billion paid in federal taxes (other states don’t make out so well).

This means that the results would be far more disastrous should Republicans get to implement their ideas on a federal level. Great chunks of the federal programs — food stamps, federal health programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and so on — that have provided inadequate but vital economic stabilization would be cut or eliminated altogether.

The results would be just as what happened on the state level, only worse.

It took many years for Republicans to talk themselves out of the fact that Herbert Hoover’s presidency was a disastrous failure, but with the exception of Trump, Hooverism is where they stand. It’s an ideology that can gain wide popularity only insofar as it is not actually tried on a wide scale. It turns out that a vision of government that was already outdated a century ago (when farmers were over a quarter of the workforce) is not very well-suited to a modern economy. It’s just too bad the American people might have to be the collateral damage in re-learning that lesson.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, April 4, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Economic Policy, Republicans, Spending Cuts, Tax Cuts | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Say It Ain’t Ted, Wisconsin”: The Badger State Should Know Better Than To Go For The Texas Senator

I am taking Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary personally. That’s the progressive state with the capital P, the home of the Progressive Party founded by the LaFollettes about a century ago. Sen. Bob LaFollette is considered one of the very best senators in history. Scenic blue Madison is the city where the university anti-Vietnam War movement caught on fire and tear gas.

An irony that gives no pleasure: the Republican candidate favored to win, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reminds people of Wisconsin’s own shameful demagogue. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who went on witch hunts for Communists at home, was a national disgrace. His tear was not stopped before he wrecked hundreds of lives – maybe more.

The radical demonization of others is what Cruz and McCarthy share in common. In one campaign debate, Cruz insulted the island of Manhattan for its views on reproductive rights. The Texan even looks like McCarthy, I’ve heard people say. Yes, there is a resemblance. Is Wisconsin going to vote for Cruz, for old times sake?

Please say it’s not so.

Here’s one more irony. The Republican party elders and regulars are so adamantly against mogul Donald Trump winning the nomination that they are openly willing to settle for Cruz, the most hostile antagonist to other Republican senators. He’s a freshman, about as rude as Trump, without a drop of the milk of human kindness. He has very few friends in the Senate, making a practice of insulting senior senators, both Republican and Democratic. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no idea what to do with him. Most senators like to be liked and put up a good front.

The Republican establishment and the arch-conservative Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, are egging on the only Republican in Trump’s league for arrogance. It’s rare to have a politician who loves to be hated. Cruz thrives on it. If he becomes the nominee, it will be hard to have the party rally round him.

In a normal political season, the governor of Ohio would be elected Republican party darling. Gov. John Kasich comes across as an experienced and reasonable candidate. He speaks well, inflected with Midwestern earnestness. Beware. His political rise took place in Speaker Newt Gingrich’s House. And he is no moderate friend to women’s rights and health. He is scary on that score.

The truth is, I feel about Trump what Winston Churchill declared about democracy as a system of government: that he’s a deeply flawed contender, but better than all the others. Better than Cruz and shallow Sen. Marco Rubio. Better than the prince of privilege, Jeb Bush. Better than the self-serving, acid Gov. Chris Christie. Better than the clueless Dr. Ben Carson.

Let me explain. Trump’s the only candidate to speak out strongly against the ill-fated Iraq War, which shattered our well-being as a nation. He told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post that our presidents could have “gone to the beach” and the Middle East would be in better shape. Thank you, that’s true. The Middle East with the Islamic State group is a hot mess, thanks to us.

The brash New Yorker gets no credit for that forceful fresh analysis, because the media always sees Trump in black and white. First, he was a clownish figure in a freak show. Now he’s a danger to all the liberties we hold dear. National security experts, many of whom beat the drum for war in Iraq, wrote a letter stating that Trump is a threat to national security. What does that make them?

On the issue of choice, Trump was clearly chastened by outrage at a careless remark about women getting “punished” for exercising their constitutional right to privacy in personal medical matters. He learned from this mistake. Very soon after, he became the only Republican to admit the laws on legal abortion are clear and set since 1973. He said the law should stay as is. Unlike the rigid Cruz, Kasich, Rubio and the rest, Trump gets Planned Parenthood as a women’s health organization. No small thing.

As for accusations of misogyny, I’ll be the judge of that. Too many male pundits toss that word out there like a pitch on Opening Day. Many don’t grasp it’s a heavy, ancient Greek word that should be saved for the real thing.

Wisconsin is America’s dairyland, but much more than that. Madison, the state capital, was a paradise to me, set by the shore of Lake Mendota. The country will be watching Wisconsin closely Tuesday night for clues to our state of mind, nobody more than me.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Progressives, Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Primary | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Will Jindal Make It To Caucus Night?”: In Weaker Financial Position Than Candidates Rick Perry And Scott Walker Were Before They Quit

On January 10, 2016, Bobby Jindal will without question obtain one of his heart’s great desires: liberation from any further obligation to the People of the Gret Stet of Loosiana. As noted here often over the past couple of years, the Gret Stet has become less and less fond of its often-absentee governor, and at the moment he’s doing better in presidential polls in Iowa than he is among the Republicans who know him best.

Three weeks after he becomes a former governor, Iowa will hold its Caucuses. But as third-quarter fundraising numbers drift into view, the question is whether Bobby has enough money to super-size his lunch order, much less organize an effective Caucus performance. Here’s The Hill’s Jonathan Swan:

The presidential campaign of Republican candidate Bobby Jindal looks barely viable, with the Louisiana governor finishing the most recent fundraising quarter with just $261,000 in the bank.

Jindal’s campaign spent more than it raised, taking in $579,000 and spending $832,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30.

And here’s the hammer:

The Louisiana governor is arguably in a weaker financial position than former candidates Rick Perry and Scott Walker were before they quit the race last month.

While Perry had less cash in hand than Jindal — the former Texas governor had just $45,000 in his campaign account last quarter — he at least had a well-funded supporting super-PAC.

Both Perry and Walker benefited from super-PACs that had more than $15 million that they could spend to boost the candidates. But the main pro-Jindal super-PAC, “Believe Again,” disclosed contributions of $3.7 million in its midyear report.

Now Bobby’s also got a “dark money” 527 nonprofit group plumping for him, and all the outside groups pulled in a reported $8 million as of July. But the Super PAC’s been spending some serious coin on Iowa ads, where Bobby’s actually been doing more paid media than anybody else. So it’s unclear how much is left to get Jindal to the end of the year (Super-PACs and 527s only report semi-annually). What he really needs is some fresh evidence he’s doing as well in Iowa as a September NBC/WSJ poll indicated, which placed him tied with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at 6%.

For now, I’d guess Bobby’s staff probably isn’t going to get paid for a while, and non-campaign groups will do more and more of what the campaign ought to be doing. But his money troubles have already caught the attention of media vultures, who will be watching his campaign closely for signs of non-vitality. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, The Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 16, 2016

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, GOP Campaign Donors, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The GOP Is Outraged By Trump? Oh Please”: No More Out Of Line Than The GOP Has Been For Six Years

I watched all day Friday on cable this juxtaposition of the Trump video and the old John McCain video from 2008, when he gamely told that hair-swept woman that no, Barack Obama is a good family man and a citizen. By the 15th viewing, it hit me just how insidious the juxtaposition is.

Here’s why. The quasi-informed viewer will reflexively think that the McCain video, buttressed by all the talking heads chastising Trump for not having followed McCain’s admirable example, represents the default Republican handling of such situations over the years. But in fact, of course, it’s Trump who comes far closer to representing the way most Republicans have handled such questions over the years.

Think about it. How many videos have we seen over the years of Republican members of Congress at town halls, or being confronted by reporters, and being asked if they think Obama is a Christian or an American or if he loves his country. We’ve seen loads of them, and they all follow the same script. The member of Congress first chuckles nervously. He then glances from side to side to see who’s around, who might overhear him. You can see the gears turning in his head. “What do I say? This will surely find its way back home to my constituents, so what do I say?” So they say something like “Well, it’s not for me to say” and scamper on their way.

Look. There’s a reason 43 percent of Republicans still believe that Obama is Muslim, and that reason is far from mysterious. It’s that elected Republicans have allowed the rumor to fester.

Thought experiment: Suppose that Republicans from Reince Priebus and Michael Steele (his predecessor) to the senators to the members of Congress and governors and on down to the locals had agreed in 2009 that the party line on such matters would be, “Look, we disagree strongly with the President’s policies, but we don’t question his citizenship, his Christian faith, or his patriotism, and we encourage all Republicans to stop doing this.” What would that percentage be today? Not 43, I assure you. If Republicans had spent six years saying that, pollsters wouldn’t even be still asking the question.

But they most certainly did not do that. Steele is someone I’ve gotten to know and like, he’s a very nice man. But I see here that even he gave one of those cutesy answers back in 2009, when GQ asked him if he thought Obama was a Muslim: “Well, he says he’s not, so I believe him.” That too was a classic dodge, that “Well, he says he’s not.” On the moral see saw, the opening note of skepticism weighs far more than the closing affirmation, and thus signals to the conservative listener/viewer/reader, “This guy’s all right.” And while it’s fair to note that Hillary Clinton gave a similarly yucky answer during the 2008 primary, it’s the Republicans that have been singlehandedly promoting this nonsense for the last six years.

On my personal outrage meter, I regard what Trump did as being in fact not as bad as the kind of disingenuous tap-dancing other Republicans have done. Trump was very clearly just tolerating this guy, humoring him. Yes, of course he should have corrected the man, and he didn’t. But he was obviously trying to be vague and get past it fast. He wasn’t nudging and winking and didn’t come up with some coy and dishonest rhetorical pirouette that fed the man’s rage. “We’re looking into it” ain’t red meat.

What I find far more outrageous is the unified chorus of Republicans now denouncing Trump as if the vast majority of them haven’t spent the past six years behaving as Trump did or worse in such situations. This newfound rectitude is awfully convenient, and it obviously has a lot less to do with any devotion to the principle of civil discourse with respect to the sitting President. No, it’s about them taking advantage of a golden opportunity to dump on Trump and present themselves to people with short memories as being far better on this issue than they actually have been.

Permit me to refresh those memories. Here, I don’t even have to go back very far at all. Do you remember back in February when Rudy Giuliani said he didn’t think Obama loves America and “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up”? Well, it set off the usual two-day cable shit-storm, such that all the GOP candidates were asked to comment on it. Here is what they said.

Bobby Jindal was the best (as in worst). He flat-out defended Giuliani, saying that “the gist of what Mayor Giuliani said…is true.”

Scott Walker, flying high then, was a close second. “You should ask the president what he thinks about America,” Walker told The Associated Press. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

Rand Paul and Jeb Bush both said it’s a “mistake to question people’s motives.” That’s better than Walker, but it’s still pretty cautious and still not a no, the mayor was clearly out of line. Others—Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Ben Carson—didn’t respond to media requests for comment.

Oh, and then there was Lindsey Graham. Now Graham was great on Andrea Mitchell’s show Friday: No, what Trump did was an outrage, of course Obama is a Christian, yadda yadda. Back in February, though, he was hedger too. He said: “I am not Dr. Phil. I don’t know how to look into somebody’s eyes and find out what their soul’s up to.” He did then say “I have no doubt that he loves his country, I have no doubt that he’s a patriot.” He deserves credit for the second part, but why that Dr. Phil business?

I’ll tell you why. Because until Trump got involved and took his current commanding (and to Republicans like Graham, terrifying) lead in the polls, the default Republican position was to find some way to humor the base on these questions about Obama. So saying something skeptical that fed the base’s rage was required. But now that Trump is guilty of doing what most Republicans have spent the better part of a decade doing, suddenly it’s all too outrageous. There is no principle at work here. Indeed precisely the opposite. This is the definition of expediency.

And if Trump is smart, and he is, he’ll find a way to communicate this when he “apologizes,” and the GOP will get precisely what it deserves.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 20, 2015

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Heading To The Hall Of Shame?”: Jeb Goes South, Perhaps In More Ways Than One

So after a meh performance in the CNN debate, and with Matt Bai telling the whole world the Establishment’s on the edge of dumping him, the Great White Hope of the donor class and the political science community (just teasing you, just teasing you!) heads South, where he hopes to compete in some key primaries unless he finishes fifth in New Hampshire and has to join Phil Gramm in the Hall of Shame for presidential candidates with a whole lot more money than votes.

Today Jeb’s joining nine other candidates (overshadowed once again by Donald Trump, who canceled his appearance supposedly because he needs to go close a deal somewhere, though some suspect he wants to avoid questioning on the little Islamaphobia event that occurred at one of his rallies yesterday) in South Carolina this afternoon at a forum hosted by Heritage Action, the influential right-wing enforcer and adjunct to the Heritage Foundation. I’m assuming the event is in the Palmetto State partially because it’s an early primary state but mostly as a tribute to Heritage president Jim DeMint, who is co-hosting the forum with Nikki Haley. Since he didn’t get around to it on Wednesday night, you’d guess Scott Walker will finally talk about his new Power to the People union-busting initiative in the world’s most congenial venue maybe this side of Beijing.

Tomorrow Jeb traverses the 95 miles from Greenville, SC to Athens, GA to take in the Georgia-South Carolina football game–a game I was once planning to attend in person, but now that I’m not, I’m happy I won’t have to deal with the extra traffic his security detail will create.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein offers Team Jeb some advice on getting through this game without offending too many people, a process that’s made trickier by the fact that he was Governor of Florida for some of the many years that current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was tormenting the Georgia Bulldogs from his perch at the University of Florida.

Jeb Bush will have to walk a thin line when he heads to Athens on Saturday to campaign before the annual gridiron matchup between Georgia and South Carolina. And just who the former Florida governor will root for may be one of the tougher questions he gets.

Will he don the red and black of the Georgia faithful? Will he sport a shiny visor, the favored headgear of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier? Or will he fall somewhere in between, perhaps favoring a nice neutral shade of gray?

South Carolina is an early-voting state that Bush has crisscrossed trying to curry favor. But he’s also visited Georgia a half-dozen or so times in the past year — downing a Frosted Orange at the Varsity and hanging out with Ludacris under the Gold Dome — ahead of this state’s March 1 primary.

Local Republicans gave Bush some more advice:

Bush, a University of Texas graduate, will most likely try to appeal to both sides. If he goes that route, Republican strategist Brian Robinson came up with a handy list of how he can appeal to UGA’s Republicans without offending fans of South Carolina or his home base of Florida.

Among them: Point out that UGA has a tight end named Jeb, highlight the power of the Southeastern Conference and offer Georgia standout Nick Chubb a chance to be his Polk County campaign chairman.

As to what not to say, Robinson also had some ideas:

* I used to golf with Steve Spurrier when he was coach at Florida. Great guy.

* There’s too much inbreeding in the Uga line.”

* Sir, I think you’ve had enough to drink.”

Yuk Yuk.

I don’t know if Bush is going to be introduced to the 92,000 fans attending the game, but even in Georgia, I doubt he’ll get the reception gained by a political celebrity at a game I witnessed way back in the day. It was Prince Charles (before his marriage to Diana), who came out on the field at half-time, with the Georgia faithful dutifully chanting: “Damn Good Prince! Damn Good Prince!”

Good times.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 18, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Georgia, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush, South Carolina | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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