The Winter of Our Discontent: Republicans are Singing 'Let it No, Let it No, Let it No'!

WANDERINGS, with Walter Brasch

by Walter Brasch

 The party of NO, sometimes known as Republicans, has been consistent in its contempt for America.

President Obama wanted to continue the Bush tax cuts, but limit them only to those individuals earning less than $200,000 a year and families earning less than $250,000 a year. That would eliminate tax cuts for all but the richest 2 percent of Americans. The NO Party, which hypocritically emphasizes how much it wants to reduce government, demanded that all tax credits be approved. To extend the tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent would add about $854 billion to the national debt and do little to add jobs or stimulate the economy, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest people in the world, oppose extending tax cuts to the rich. A majority of Americans and Congress oppose extending tax cuts to the rich. But the minority in the Senate held Americans hostage.

They threatened to filibuster the bill and to block all legislation, no matter how critical, if the wealthy weren't included in the tax break. Pending legislation would extend unemployment benefits to almost two million Americans. That legislation also had a majority approval in both house of Congress. The NO people have consistently used the threat of filibuster, which requires 60 votes in the Senate to stop it. 

At one time, Republican and Democratic leaders met, discussed, argued, and reached civil compromise that advanced the interest of the American people. This has not been the case the past decade. The Republican NO, when it controlled Congress and the executive branch during the Bush–Cheney era, had demanded that legislation be passed on an "up or down" simple majority vote. Now in the minority, they have become the obstructionists to progress and the will of the majority of Americans. In doing so, they have now fused two persona—the school yard bully and the boy who strikes out, blames the umpire, and grabs the team ball and runs away.

Falsely claiming it would protect Americans from runaway spending—while still asking for more than $1 billion in pork barrel funding—the NO Party then threatened a filibuster on the estate tax. The Democrats wanted the first $1 million to be tax exempt. The NO Party demanded a $5 million exemption for individuals and $10 million for couples, with the maximum tax above that 35 percent rather than the previous maximum, of 55 percent. If approved at the level the conservatives wanted, the new legislation would affect only 3,600 estates and add about $20 billion to the nation's debt.

While protecting the wealthy, the NO Party also blocked a one-time payment of $250 for senior citizens receiving Social Security. There was no annual cost-of-living increase this year because federal guidelines showed that inflation was not at a level that would trigger the increase, even though medical costs continued to rise. The House voted 254–153 to make the payment, but 290 votes were needed under the House's "special rules." In the Senate, the vote was 53–45 for the special payment, and failed because of the Republican filibuster threat.

The same miscreants then blocked legislation to provide financial compensation for the nation's first responders who were exposed to toxic ash at the 9/11 attacks and had to seek medical treatment. The Senate voted 57–42 to provide health care. But the No Compassion Party, which had already spewed millions of words about how they are more patriotic than anyone else, won by threatening a filibuster that ended any help to firefighters, police officers, and the thousands of volunteers who risked their lives to save others.

It isn't only financial interests that cause the NO Party to block progress. Still proclaiming its objective is to block any Obama legislation and prevent him from being a two-term president, the NO Party also tried to block a bill to give women equal pay. Only four senators voted for that bill.

The Republicans continue to block a vote for the continuation of START Treaty, begun under Richard Nixon and pushed by Ronald Reagan, which involves reduction of nuclear arms.

Apparently, the NO Party, now dominated by the extreme right wing, by its recent actions believes it's acceptable to harm the nation while protecting the rich and special interests.

 [Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist, and the author of 17 books. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]

 

The Winter of Our Discontent: Republicans are Singing 'Let it No, Let it No, Let it No'!

WANDERINGS, with Walter Brasch

by Walter Brasch

 The party of NO, sometimes known as Republicans, has been consistent in its contempt for America.

President Obama wanted to continue the Bush tax cuts, but limit them only to those individuals earning less than $200,000 a year and families earning less than $250,000 a year. That would eliminate tax cuts for all but the richest 2 percent of Americans. The NO Party, which hypocritically emphasizes how much it wants to reduce government, demanded that all tax credits be approved. To extend the tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent would add about $854 billion to the national debt and do little to add jobs or stimulate the economy, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest people in the world, oppose extending tax cuts to the rich. A majority of Americans and Congress oppose extending tax cuts to the rich. But the minority in the Senate held Americans hostage.

They threatened to filibuster the bill and to block all legislation, no matter how critical, if the wealthy weren't included in the tax break. Pending legislation would extend unemployment benefits to almost two million Americans. That legislation also had a majority approval in both house of Congress. The NO people have consistently used the threat of filibuster, which requires 60 votes in the Senate to stop it. 

At one time, Republican and Democratic leaders met, discussed, argued, and reached civil compromise that advanced the interest of the American people. This has not been the case the past decade. The Republican NO, when it controlled Congress and the executive branch during the Bush–Cheney era, had demanded that legislation be passed on an "up or down" simple majority vote. Now in the minority, they have become the obstructionists to progress and the will of the majority of Americans. In doing so, they have now fused two persona—the school yard bully and the boy who strikes out, blames the umpire, and grabs the team ball and runs away.

Falsely claiming it would protect Americans from runaway spending—while still asking for more than $1 billion in pork barrel funding—the NO Party then threatened a filibuster on the estate tax. The Democrats wanted the first $1 million to be tax exempt. The NO Party demanded a $5 million exemption for individuals and $10 million for couples, with the maximum tax above that 35 percent rather than the previous maximum, of 55 percent. If approved at the level the conservatives wanted, the new legislation would affect only 3,600 estates and add about $20 billion to the nation's debt.

While protecting the wealthy, the NO Party also blocked a one-time payment of $250 for senior citizens receiving Social Security. There was no annual cost-of-living increase this year because federal guidelines showed that inflation was not at a level that would trigger the increase, even though medical costs continued to rise. The House voted 254–153 to make the payment, but 290 votes were needed under the House's "special rules." In the Senate, the vote was 53–45 for the special payment, and failed because of the Republican filibuster threat.

The same miscreants then blocked legislation to provide financial compensation for the nation's first responders who were exposed to toxic ash at the 9/11 attacks and had to seek medical treatment. The Senate voted 57–42 to provide health care. But the No Compassion Party, which had already spewed millions of words about how they are more patriotic than anyone else, won by threatening a filibuster that ended any help to firefighters, police officers, and the thousands of volunteers who risked their lives to save others.

It isn't only financial interests that cause the NO Party to block progress. Still proclaiming its objective is to block any Obama legislation and prevent him from being a two-term president, the NO Party also tried to block a bill to give women equal pay. Only four senators voted for that bill.

The Republicans continue to block a vote for the continuation of START Treaty, begun under Richard Nixon and pushed by Ronald Reagan, which involves reduction of nuclear arms.

Apparently, the NO Party, now dominated by the extreme right wing, by its recent actions believes it's acceptable to harm the nation while protecting the rich and special interests.

 [Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist, and the author of 17 books. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]

 

"Back to 1965..."

Ezra Klein notes the "peculiar impasse" in the negotiations to veer away from the apocalypse Armageddon cataclysm annihilation very-scary-sounding-thingy fiscal cliff: Republicans would agree to revenue if Democrats would just agree too... uh...

They know they want “Medicare reform” — indeed, they frequently identify Medicare reform as the key to their support for a deal — but aside from premium support, they don’t quite know what they mean by it, and they’re afraid to find out. 

The solution they’ve come up with, such as it is, is to insist that the Obama administration needs to be the one to propose Medicare cuts. “We accepted this meeting with the expectation that the White House team will bring a specific plan for real spending cuts — because spending cuts that Washington Democrats will accept is what is missing from the balanced approach that the president says he wants,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in regard to the most recent round of talks.

Democrats find this flatly ridiculous: Given that the Obama administration would happily raise taxes without cutting Medicare but that Republicans will only raise taxes if we cut Medicare, it falls on the Republicans to name their price. But behind their negotiating posture is a troubling policy reality: They don’t know what that price is.

Fear of political costs for unpopular, but necessary -- you believe -- policy isn't a political novelty (especially if you've convinced your entire base to take leave of the real world).  But I think this gives the Republicans too much credit in this particular self-created predicament.  This assumes they have specific ideas they believe make good policy and just don't want to own them alone.  It assumes they've thought this one through beyond an ideological hatred for Medicare and the safety net at large, success of the program(s) be damned.  Sherrod Brown said it best in 2003:

[Privatization] has really been the thrust. From President Bush to the gentleman from California (Mr. Thomas) to Speaker Gingrich a few years ago, to back in 1965, Republicans really wanted this system turned over to the insurance companies. Privatize Medicare and give it to the insurance industry. Go back to 1965, out of roughly 200 Republican Members of the House and Senate, only 23 voted for the creation of Medicare. Gerald Ford in 1965, a future President, voted against it. Congressman Dole, future Senator Dole, Republican Presidential candidate, voted against it. Senator Strom Thurmond voted against the creation of Medicare. Congressman Donald Rumsfeld in 1965, later Secretary of Defense and the architect of this plan, I put in quotation marks, of the rebuilding of Iraq, voted against the creation of Medicare.

Then in 1995, the first time Republicans had an opportunity to do something about Medicare, the Republicans under Speaker Gingrich tried to cut it by $270 billion in order to give a tax cut to the most privileged Americans, the same old story. Speaker Gingrich said in October 1995 that he hoped Medicare would wither on the vine.

Republicans don't find themselves without a specific demand because  Vouchercare isn't on the table, they are in this bind because Vouchercare was only popular with Republicans primarily as a gateway to privatization. 

I find it hard to believe the same party that successfully sold trickle-down economics for 3+ decades with little push back from Democrats, or managed to get the very tax cuts being debated now on the table then (as a job creator, no less) is suddenly too timid to bullshit the American populace into getting behind they're latest proposal.  No. They would praise the genius of toddler's finger painting if they thought the public would buy it. The reason Republicans can't make a specific demand now with the White House bluntly asking them to name their price is simple: they haven't considered it much.

Reform is the white wash, overblown fears of fiscal solvency the excuse, and privatization the thrust.  But the goal has always been an end to the social safety net.

Not something you admit to outside of the country club, even if it is the President asking.

 

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