While I was reading the newspaper over breakfast, I read about what the GOP have been working on since they took over the House. In the past month or so they have been busy, but not on what they were sent to do.
I never considered the change of power in the House to be a “mandate” but more of a message that it’s time to change the focus to jobs, the economy, and the deficit. So far, besides attempting to repeal the so-called “job-killing” health care bill (which more and more Americans actually want to see stay in place, just changed), their so-called “important mission” has been to send three bills to the floor to further limit abortions, all of which do nothing but restrict a woman’s reproductive rights.
When the Republicans took over, even though I was against it, I was hopeful for events similar to when President Clinton lost his Congressional majority. I thought that this would give the GOP a desire to actually work with the Democrats instead of blocking everything. However, in the past 39 days of GOP control, there has been zero activity on helping Americans get back to work. No mention of any program or bill to encourage businesses to hire. No mention of anything that will help Americans who are already out of work or to help those who are out of unemployment. No mention of anything except the usual “culture war” that the Conservatives have waged for decades.
Speaker Boehner, your “Plan For America” is nothing more than the same old Conservative Crap that has been tried and has failed since the Reagan years. You and your “mandate” was nothing more than a smoke screen to hurt a President you do not like and to stop his policies that are honestly good for this country.
Since 1948 it has been the domestic and economic policies of the Republican party to make the richer even more richer, at the full expense of the middle and lower classes. The Democrats have been accused time and time again of being “distributors of wealth”, when it is really the GOP who are completely at fault for doing so. The GOP do not care about the economy, job creation, health care, or even the deficit. The only thing the GOP care about is making themselves richer at the cost of everything and everyone. Over the past decade or so they have perfected their spin machine, their ability to give out false information, and in doing so have done the American public a great disservice.
I know there are some good Republicans and some smart members of the Tea Party who really want to see positive change and do not play partisan politics. They want to reach across the aisle and work with the Democrats in order to make a better America. The problem is that their voices are being drowned out by partisan politics, the right wing spin machine, and the continual pushing of the same domestic and cultural policies the GOP have pushed for years.
Reaganomics and “trickle-down economics” was shown to be an abject failure, yet the GOP since President G.W. Bush pushed the same upper end tax breaks that were one cause for the deficits we’re experiencing now as well as not being any help in a ten year period of the economy shedding millions of jobs. The same President Bush led us into two wars, one of which was completely based on false intelligence, that has not only helped to bring us to the economic ruin we are in now but has also tarnished our international reputation as well. Even though we are over two years since the end of the Bush Presidency, it will take us much more than two years of sound economic policy in order to get us out of the hole we are in.
Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way the GOP governs, I do not see anything positive coming out of Washington in the next several years. The GOP obviously did not get the message that was handed to them on Election Day 2010. They do not see or understand the real issues that need to be addressed today. The blocking of all the sound economic policies during the 111th Congress and the policies that they are putting forth since they have taken over have only shown to me, and hopefully to the American people, that the GOP do not have any interest in solving our problems.
What is your take on the situation? Do you see the GOP pushing any policies or programs of substance or are they still waging the same economic and cultural wars of the past several decades. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your thoughts in the comments.
I want to hear what you think and what you have to say.
I finally sat down and watched the Republican and “Tea Party” response to the State of The Union and I was really hoping for something new, especially since they were supposedly put into office because of a “mandate”. But unfortunately all I heard was the same old, same old.
I was expecting a lot of substance in the response from the Republican Party, but I can sum it up in two words, “Cut it”. There was no real policy, no “thinking out of the box” to solve our problems. Everyone knew that going into the State of The Union that our deficit was one of the most important problems we are facing. While I agree that we need to cut spending, we also need to keep certain programs such as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance as priorities in order to sustain and grow our economy.
If you ask just about any economist, they will tell you that cuts in unemployment insurance will do more damage to our economy than will the massive spending cuts that are being proposed. It has been shown that for every dollar spent on UI, there is an economic effect of nearly double that in local spending. The money is very rarely saved and is used primarily in the local economy, helping to keep local businesses open and local people employed. When that money stops, there is a ripple effect that hurts a lot of businesses and people. For some, UI is their only source of income, the only money keeping a roof over their head and food in their belly.
One of the telling statements that Rep. Ryan mentioned was that..
If we act soon, and if we act responsibly, people in and near retirement will be protected.
– Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republican Response to the State of the Union 2011
What that says to me is that their plan for Social Security is to privatize it and allow Wall Street maintain this important safety net for our seniors. Do you realize that if this happened several years ago as the GOP wanted to do that there would of been a horrendous loss of value in the Social Security program when the stocks crashed? Do you really want to see millions of seniors lose their only source of income, or for some an important part of it? Social Security, since its inception in 1935, has not missed a payment to millions of seniors. According to Wikipedia, it’s responsible for keeping roughly 40% of all Americans aged 65 or older out of poverty.
We cannot allow this important program to become another carcass in the Republican butchering of America. To even think about this shows how little the GOP thinks about seniors.
When Rep. Ryan mentioned that the stimulus program was a failure (which by all accounts was really a huge success by keeping businesses and the auto industry going), I knew that there would be nothing of substance in this rebuttal. It was nothing but rehashing the lies and half-truths of the past couple years concerning the stimulus, health care, Social Security, and “limited government”.
Turning to the “Tea Party” response given by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MI) – which was “authorized” by Sal Russo’s Tea Party Express and Tea Party HD – claimed that it wasn’t competing with the offical Republican response, yet it sounded like it with the repeat of lies we’ve heard for several years.
To start with, there was no mention of Rep. Giffords and the Tuscon incident. There were no kind words for a missed colleague or a hope for her recovery. Rep. Bachmann went right out of the gate attacking the President.
While I will agree with her statements about the ballooning deficit and unemployment numbers, the statement she made about the 16,000 new IRS agents that will be needed for the Affordable Health Care Act has been proven to be a complete fabrication. The part that the IRS plays in the Affordable Health Care Act is to hand out job credits to small businesses that will pay up to 35% of the health care costs for their employees.
Then she moves to the same old attack that unless we completely repeal “Obamacare” (though I will agree that medical malpractice reform is something that does need to happen, and it’s a way to cut medical costs) the entire country will fall apart, deficits will soar, and we’ll stop being the greatest nation on earth. It’s the same old fear-mongering we’ve heard for the past few years for anything that the President wants to accomplish, even if the Republicans thought of it first. For example, you do realize that the basis for the Affordable Health Care Act was the health care reforms put in place by Former Govenor Mitt Romney (R-MA), right? Same thing with Cap and Trade. It was promoted by Sen. McCain during the ’08 Presidental Elections, then he abandoned it once President obama said he was interested in it.
Every single time any idea is promoted by President Obama or the Democrats, the GOP goes into lockstep “I’m against it” mode even if the idea is the best thing for the situation at hand. That right there sums up the past two years of Congress. When the President or the Democrats come up with ways to move this country forward, the GOP does everything in their power to stall it, hamstring it, or outright stop it.
Another point that Rep. Bachmann brought up as a way to help businesses was the removal of the over 130 regulations put into place during this administration. What she forgot to mention was that the President recently ordered a top to bottom review of all regulatory functions to see what works and what doesn’t. You remember the salmon regulations mentioned during his speech? How that there is one regulatory body for when they’re salt water and the other fresh water…and don’t even start talking about when they’re smoked. There are good regulations that help protect businesses and people, and ones that do nothing more than complicate. I agree with Rep. Bachmann that we need to cut back on the over regulation, but we can ill afford to go back to the days of the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations that removed a lot of the consumer protections we had in place.
To close, I really wanted to hear some new ideas from either the GOP or the “Tea Party”, but in the end all I heard was the same old lines they’ve been parroting for the past two years. Nothing but the same fear-mongering and faulty ideas that will hurt the country, not help it. All the talk of lower taxes and limited government and nothing of substance about job creation or the economy. If this is a preview of what the next two years in Washington will be, then I have little hope that things will get any better.
Now that I’ve said my thoughts, what are yours? Do you think things will get better or will it be two more years of the same old, same old?
I watched the State of The Union last night, and there were a lot of good things said by The President. While it didn’t delve into details, I felt that the direction he wants to move is a positive one, and I hope the changes that need to be made can be accomplished. I completely agree that as a nation, we are at a turning point, a “Sputnik” moment as The President mentioned. This is our chance to make meaningful change and put our feet on solid ground and get ready for the future.
Some of what I thought were highlights and my thoughts on them are…
1) Elimination of the Oil subsidies – When I heard this, I was both shocked and amazed. Congress has been subsidizing the oil industry for years. Those oil companies haven’t needed the tax dollars for years. Last time I heard, the oil companies were doing just fine. In fact, several of them had their best year ever in 2010 with billions of dollars in profits…not revenue, but real profits. With that much money, they no longer need any government subsidies. Mr. President, that is the best idea I have heard from any politician from either side in years.
2) Education – It’s no secret that we have very poor schools around the country, along with high drop out rates and abysmal test scores. We need to make schools and teachers more accountable for the students they teach. We need to encourage teachers to teach better and get rid of those teachers who don’t, even if it means angering the teachers unions. Only by doing so can we achieve better graduates and be better prepared for the challenges of the future.
3) Infrastructure – The President was spot on that our infrastructure is in serious need of repair and renovation. The President’s proposal to repair the infrastructure is a great idea. This will not only help the hard hit construction industry, but help get the nation on a sound base for future growth. The use of high speed rail in this country could not only more people around the country, but goods as well. This is something that will benefit us all and I see it as something we should work toward in the near future, not decades away.
4) Corporate Tax code – This is a huge step forward, if it can be done. If the tax code can be rewritten and loopholes eliminated, then the tax can be lowered because more tax income will be received instead of it being hidden offshore or sent through other countries. Once the corporate tax rates are lowered, that will hopefully free up more investment and expansion capital that will encourage job growth.
5) Review of Government Regulations – As much as people may not want to hear this, I feel that there are a lot of good and sound regulations. There are also tons of wasteful and overreaching ones as well. A top to bottom review to see what is needed and what is not makes sense and will save money in the long term. It will also help to encourage a more common sense approach to lawmaking that can spur growth and innovation without the government getting in the way. If we want to move forward, this makes a lot of sense and I hope this gets done in a hurry.
The President also stated that in the coming months he will submit a proposal to reorganize the government in a much more efficient way. When he mentioned this proposal, I saw what looked like a pleased look cross Speaker Boehner’s face. I think this is something that he supports as well and I don’t want to see this getting drowned in bi-partisan bickering. If this is coupled with the changes in the tax code for both citizens and corporations, along with the review of regulations, I can see an America that is out of our current depression, back on a very solid financial footing, and with our infrastructure repaired we are a nation that is ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century.
6) Health Care Reform – He advocated what I have already stated before, that the Affordable Health Care Act is a good start but it is not perfect. Instead of repealing it completely lawmakers should sit down and fix what doesn’t work, starting with the unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses mentioned by President Obama. I also do not want to see this nation go back to the days where insurance companies were the real “death panels” – denying care and coverage because of preexisting conditions or treatments deemed too expensive. We all deserve better care and the Affordable Health Care Act does that. There is no need to repeal it when it can be fixed.
He also mentioned real medical malpractice reform as a way to reign in rising health care costs. If tort reform can actually be accomplished, this will help reduce health care costs across the board. I honestly have my doubts about the success of real tort reform since most of the lawmakers are lawyers, a lot of whom benefit from the way things are now.
7) Deficit – The President rightfully stated our more serious issue, the mounting deficit and the need to correct the simple fact that the government spends more than it takes in. One of his ideas is to freeze domestic spending for the next five years, including military spending. I see some problems with this right out of the gate, as he did not want this to cause an undo burden on the poor. One of the largest portions of domestic spending is on entitlement programs. If the cuts that need to be made to keep spending at these levels is too deep, then you burden the poor too much. He also mentioned that domestic spending is a very small portion of our budget and if we are serious about cutting the deficit, we need to not only make smart and meaningful cuts, but to also end unneeded tax cuts and other tax loopholes.
Social Security is another large portion of the budget that needs a serious looking at, and The President said he wanted to do so but not at the cost of those currently receiving benefits. There are varying reports about the solvency of Social Security, and I agree that this is a program that should not be handed over to the whims of the stock market and the financial sector. We need to protect this important program, and the promise that it is to not only those hard working Americans that are currently receiving benefits, but to those who are currently working and for those who will be working in the decades to come.
8 ) Tax cuts for the wealthy – This was wrong ten years ago and it is wrong now. If there is anything that needs to be repealed immediately, it is the waste of money that is the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. I agree that if someone earns a lot of money, that they are entitled to it, but in this time where we all need to tighten our belts and make sacrifices for our fellow Americans, the wealthy have seen their fortunes rise far faster than anyone could of ever imagined. The government give away that is the Bush Era Tax Cut has done absolutely nothing to either reduce the deficit or produce jobs. During the past decade, this country has seen the slowest job growth that has ever been recorded, and it did so with the largest tax cut in history to the wealthy. There is no reason those tax cuts need to continue and by repealing them back to Clinton era levels (which by the way is a paltry 3 – 5% increase) it will bring needed tax dollars to the federal government and help reduce the deficit.
Overall his speech was definitely made to the center-left rather than to either side and done so with a definite lack of any bi-partisanship. It was a more CEO type of speech, which was designed to build unity and morale. There were statements and ideas made that both sides can like but the real test of the new-found unity will be how much both sides will put away the venom and rhetoric and actually work on the real problems that face us as a nation.
I’ll be talking about the Republican and the “Tea Party” responses in another post, but until then let me know what you thought about the President’s speech.
Hello and welcome to my first Week in Review, and right out of the gate we’ve got a lot to talk about.
1) I swear by my TV… – The first act of any Congress is for each member to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution from all enemies domestic and foreign. It is also important that the oath be administered by the Speaker in the House chamber. Yet, there were two Representatives, Rep Sessions (R-TX) and Rep Fitzpatrick (R-PA) who missed the ceremony, because the were in the middle of a fund raiser at the Visitors Center. They were so busy meeting with people and raising campaign money (in the Capital complex no less, which may be looked into as an ethics violation) that they missed the ceremony, yet had a TV ready and raised their hands at it and took the oath via satellite, or closed-circuit, or something.
To start off a Congress with this sort of flagrant disrespect shows to me the true color of the new Republican led House…and that color is green. Here it is, the first day on the job and instead of taking the solemn oath of office, they’re holding a fundraiser to pay off debts for Fitzpatrick’s run for office. There was a registration form on his website (it was taken down on Friday, but there are links on the Huffington Post website to the form that was posted) that asked for donations to be made to “Fitzpatrick for Congress”. There are clear rules that no solicitation is allowed on the Capitol.
Right out of the starting blocks, we’ve got a possible ethics probe. What could possibly happen next?
2) Reading is Fundamental – The oaths have been administered (well, almost all of them), and the GOP have officially taken over the House of Representatives. You want to start in a grand fashion, so you start by reading the Constitution into the official House record…but minus all those messy bits about slaves and the failure of prohibition. Really now, we don’t want the truth about the mistakes we’ve made in the past to get in the way of a good chest-thumping and flag waving session, right?
Don’t get me wrong. I do think that this is a good way to start things off. Both sides have been guilty over the years of bending and breaking the rules, so going over them right up front is great. However, I can’t give them a lot of credit for this one.
The portion they skipped about slaves being counted as three-fifths of a person was a compromise between the North and the South for tax distribution and House seats – so don’t let the likes of Glenn Beck tell you otherwise. This compromise was reached during the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787, so there was a good chance that if this compromise had not been reached, the Constitution may never have been ratified.
They also skipped the amendment concerning prohibition, yet read the amendment that did away with it. To me, that also feels wrong. If anything, we need to remember our history as a way not to repeat the mistakes we’ve made. We can also look at it as we move forward with the drug war of today. Can we say it has been a success or a failure like prohibition was.
3) Job-killing and deficit busting – OK, we’ve got the swearing in done and the Constitution read, so we’re ready for our first order of business…repealing health care.
The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect. There are a lot of things that can be changed and fixed. There are a lot of good things about it as well. You can no longer be denied due to “preexisting conditions” like cancer, diabetes, or even pregnancy. If your children live at home, you can keep them on your policy until the age of twenty-six. The donut hole for prescription coverage has been closed if your on Medicare. It has also been reported that because of this Act, more than thirty million Americans who are not covered now, will be able to afford coverage. There are also tax breaks for small businesses with less than 25 employees and an average salary of less than $50,000 (you know, real small businesses, not the fake ones like Koch Industries that are considered a “small business” because there are only two owners, even though they make millions of dollars a year and have tens of thousands of employees – sounds like a real small business, right?).
On top of that, the Congressional Budget Office has released a report saying that if it is repealed, it will raise the deficit by $230 billion over the next ten years, and a Harvard economist has shown that repeal will also cost at least 250,000 jobs in the Health Care industry alone and possibly up to 400,000 jobs, because with more Americans being able to afford health care, there will be a need for more health care professionals to take care of them.
So, to repeal a so-called “job-killing” health care act that does help people, Republicans want to kill jobs and raise the deficit…sounds like a great way to help the country, right? As I’ve said before don’t repeal it, fix it. There is good here, so lets fix what isn’t and make it better.
What do you think about the week that was. Do you see this week as the Republican’s first steps to greatness, or their first missteps into failure.
You can post a comment or email me at email@example.com
Just a couple of quick updates on some of my posts…
* Embracing the Constitution – Think Progress posted a report about truth behind the GOP’s push on the Constitution and what the tenthers really want to do.
* Austerity is the new Policy – Center for American Progress did an article in October 2010 about the national and international fallout if the debt ceiling is not allowed to rise. Also, during the Bush administration, the debt ceiling was gladly raised eight times and with the help one of those times by 51 Republicans.
…more to follow
Happy New Year…..unless you’re in Britain.
On January 1st, a number of austerity measures went into place in order to help reduce their record deficit of around 150 billion pounds (174 billion euros, 231 billion US dollars). One of the measures that have gone into place is an increase in their Value Added Tax from 17.5 to 20 percent. There was a rush over the Christmas holidays to purchase big ticket items like televisions before the VAT went up.
Another sign of the times is a cut in government funded food handouts. In Britain, a family can get a food assistance package – three days of milk, canned meats, fruit, pasta, and other essentials. Over the past two years, the number of families that are receiving assistance has nearly tripled, and its expected to rise even more between now and 2015. It’s expected to rise so much that the government will need to build nearly six hundred additional food banks in order to meet the demand for services.
Economists are saying that between the VAT increase, cuts in emergency food assistance, and other austerity measures, that unemployment is expected to rise over the next year, shedding an additional 350,000 private sector jobs. Along with the job losses, these measures will keep GDP growth down to a meager 2 percent, which is barely enough to hold steady with the sluggish economy and loss of jobs.
Here in the US when the new Congress opens for business this week, there will be a push by Tea Party Republicans to limit our debt ceiling and start our own round of austerity measures beginning with cuts in discretionary spending. However, many economists, economic advisers, and even Conservative columnists are saying that doing so will only hurt our chances for economic recovery. As I posted on my Wish List for 2011, we need to start working on paying down our deficit and working toward not having our children and grand-children saddled with a debt they will never be able to pay off, but we can not afford to do so with one hand or both hands tied behind our back. If we enact austerity measures and not raise the debt ceiling, that will only give the impression that we will not be able to ever pay off our debtors and that could ignite a new round of recessions around the world.
Regardless if we like it or not, the economy of the United States is linked with economies around the world. If there is a major economic downturn here, it could send ripples of uncertainty that may slow down the recovery of Britain, France, or other European allies. It could also hurt relations with Saudi Arabia and even China, who is our largest debt holder.
We need to change the dynamic in Congress from one that is headed toward financial suicide to one that will grow jobs and the economy. What ideas do you have that would help this discussion? What would you say to your Congressman?
Since today is the last day of the year, it’s only fitting to look ahead to 2011 and list a few things that I would like to see happen…
1) It’s the jobs, stupid — I would dearly like to see real change on the economy and unemployment. While Stimulus I and Stimulus II passed, they were far from enough to really encourage any job growth. When you have tax cuts for the upper tier of income, the extra money they receive does not “trickle down” to the lower classes. Moody’s Analytics listed the top five ways to stimulate the economy, and tax cuts didn’t even come close…
- Increase in Food Stamps
- Extend Unemployment Benefits – not just fund, give extra weeks to those already out of time
- Infrastructure Spending – Stimulus I did some, but far from enough
- Aid to State Governments
- Payroll Tax Holiday
2) No more gridlock — During the 111th Congress, more bills were held up in the Senate because of its arcane rules than any other Congress before it. Even with the increase Republican minority and the new majority in the House, we don’t have to see everything come to a standstill. During the Clinton administration’s first mid-term election he also lost control of Congress, yet he was still able to pass many important and substantive policy programs. Also, the recent lame-duck session was very historic and a lot of really substantive bills were signed into law. I realize that there will need to be compromises in order to get legislation passed, but “compromise” is really the heart of legislative governing. You need to find a common ground for the greater good and do what needs to be done to move the country forward.
3) Change what needs to be changed — The Health-care plan that was passed earlier this year was a good start, but it’s far from perfect. Currently there are many legal challenges to the plan and a call to defund plan when the next spending bill comes up. I feel that there needs to be some changes made to it, but defunding the plan is not the way to go. Instead, I challenge both sides to come up with ways to improve it instead of removing it.
4) Work on the Deficit, but not yet — We owe a lot of money…we owe a hell of a lot of money…we owe so much money that it’s hard to count. I completely agree that we need to do something about it. With a combination of tax increases and spending decreases, along with long term budget balancing and better planning, we can give to our children and grand-children a country that is free of debt.
The problem with doing that now is that we don’t have the economy working with us on this. Once the jobless are working again (and with it more income to the Local, State, and Federal Governments) we can look at what needs to be done. If we start cutting programs now, including the social safety nets like unemployment and Social Security, we may end up and send us back into economic chaos and from that it could take years to recover.
5) The end of the spin cycle — While not directly related to politics, I feel that both sides need to slow down their spin machines and really listen to what they’re saying and how what they say influences the people who listen to it. There are talking heads on both sides, such as Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh on the Right and Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz on the Left, that at times can be interesting and informative but end up most of the time being nothing more than a distraction from getting things accomplished. It’s important to hear what both sides have to say, but it can be done without all the spin and rhetoric. This country needs and deserves an open and honest commentary on what works and what doesn’t.
6) Campaign Finance Reform, for real — During the mid-terms, we saw an explosion of shadowy campaign advertising groups, nearly unlimited corporate campaign funding, and even funding from interests outside of the country (if the rumored reports about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are true). When large organizations with nearly unlimited money can contribute freely to a campaign, what does that say for the $20 or $100 given by an ordinary citizen. How much interest do you think the campaigns give when comparing the limited money given by a citizen to the millions given by corporations? What needs to happen is real campaign finance reform where corporations and individuals have the same limits, or even better let the citizens have the real power and disallow all businesses and corporations from any contributions.
Well, there is my list of what I would like to see in 2011…what’s on your wish list for the new year?