The GOP Strategy from Day One

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

DDOn day one, the new GOP-led Congress has inserted a House rule making a technical change in the way funds for Social Security disability are allocated. On day one, in its first act, before any legislation is introduced, in the very procedures of its operation, the GOP House has set dead aim, targeted, and is going after the nation’s cripples. I use the word “cripple” to reflect the GOP pejorative world view—their insensitivity and demeaning, brutish, lowered standard of human virtues and afflictions, their harsh, punitive, belittling, angry, mocking, power-mad oppression of the weak.

So on day one, the nation’s 8,956,000 disabled, along with 1,825,000 children of the disabled, will find their benefits at peril. What the new rule does is separate Social Security as retirement income from its function as disability income. The rule no longer permits the reallocation of monies from one fund to the other without Congressional approval. Right now, the disability trust fund is underfunded. It is at risk of expiring within the next year. The GOP rule blocked its automatic save; the retirement trust funds can keep both programs solvent, with no changes, until 2033.

So we see the unveiling of the GOP strategy: create and advance crises by using Congressional authority to squeeze and micro-manage safety net program funds. Use the same authority to eliminate regulations that control the greed of big business and the rich. Finally, expose the country to the pillage and theft of resources and end broad family prosperity by creating a government that both gives away and takes away benefits that increase growth, income, freedom, security and opportunity for individuals.

Reporter Michael Hiltzik writes in the Los Angeles Times about the social security rule change:

The rule change reflects the burgeoning demonization of disability recipients, a trend we’ve reported on in the past. it’s been fomented by conservative Republicans and abetted by sloppy reporting by institutions such as NPR and 60 Minutes.

Disability recipients are easily caricatured as malingering layabouts by politicians, academics and journalists too lazy to do their homework. They’ll say disability benefits are easy to obtain, so lavish they discourage work, and convenient substitutes for welfare payments. None of that is true.

Hiltzik’s article explains who receives benefits and how they qualify, dissembling the characteristic stereotypes the GOP desperately seeks to protect as it pretends to defend the retirement benefit.


On the other side of the Capitol, in the Senate chamber, on day one Republicans introduced a bill to change the definition of “full-time worker” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, widely known as Obamacare) from 35 hours to 40 hours a week. The bill quickly received loud criticism from arch-conservative pundits, including Bill Kristof. But the 40-hour redefinition will make it easier for businesses to exempt their employee’s from coverage without lowering productivity—by cutting just one hour a week from their labor schedule! This technical workaround is an example of the kind that will become common in the 114th Congress over the next two years. Continue reading The GOP Strategy from Day One

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Stormy Monday, 5/12/14

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

StormyMondayWith the Benghazi pseudo-scandal momentarily on hold as John Boehner’s Republican-dominated kangaroo court – uh, I mean select committee, is assembled, the Secret Service has set tongues wagging with the revelation by the agency’s former director, Mark Sullivan, that agents were routinely pulled from White House perimeter duty to protect Sullivan’s assistant at her Maryland home. Expect calls this week for House and Senate investigations. And don’t be surprised if Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann or one of their GOP colleagues gets the bright idea to have Sullivan reappointed to his old position so that they can then demand his resignation again. Hell, one or more conservative pundits clamoring for the President’s impeachment on the grounds that he failed to micromanage his own security detail wouldn’t shock me either.

In other Secret Service news, Thomas Lemuel “Lem” Johns, who was assistant to the special agent in charge of LBJ’s security detail in Dallas on November 22, 1963, died Saturday, aged 88. The Alabama native was present at Johnson’s ad hoc inaugural aboard Air Force One, and would later head the agency’s Birmingham field office. His son and grandson also went on to serve on presidential security details. Lem Johns will be interred at Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Senator Patty Murray of Washington will introduce the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014, which would “amend the Social Security Act to grant survivor benefits to any individual legally married anywhere in the United States, regardless of whether he or she lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.” The bill is co-sponsored by another Democrat, Colorado’s Mark Udall. Yep. Not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Yep.

With a ton of testosterone-tinged rancor left over from his aggression in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin could be poised to invade the Eurovision Song Contest following Friday’s victory in Copenhagen by Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst’s impassioned “Rise Like a Phoenix.” Russia was unsuccessful in its efforts to strong-arm the contest into banning Wurst’s performance. Following the result, Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin noisily tweeted about Europe’s future being “a bearded girl,” while numbskull MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky described the win as “the end of Europe.” Wurst’s performance is a marvel, no question, and certainly anything that ticks off Pootie is a good thing, but to a codger like me it’ll never top Eurovision winner “Waterloo,” which poured non-stop out of every transistor radio in Europe during my summer there in 1974. Yes, it was a simpler, more innocent era: the Paris Peace Accord had crumbled, resulting in renewed hostilities in Vietnam, civil war raged and Haile Selassie was dethroned in Ethiopia, Turkey invaded Cyprus (twice), the Red Brigades were bombing seemingly every passenger train I wanted to take, and Richard Milhous Nixon resigned in disgrace.

Tuesday, Vice President Biden heads to St. Louis with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to call for renewed Congressional spending to supplement the shrinking Highway Trust Fund. Wednesday, he’ll repeat the message in Cleveland. The President will reinforce the call to action with a Wednesday speech at New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, currently undergoing costly but long overdue refurbishment, and a Friday brainstorming session in Washington devoted to infrastructure renewal.

On a related note, it’s National Transportation Week. So go somewhere. Infrastructure conditions permitting, of course. Stay safe. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/12/14

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Since Obama took office, I’ve been disappointed to observe that a significant segment of left punditry prizes their ideological hang ups over accuracy. The third party left, whether Green, Libertarian or Socialist, campaign for their party by ignoring anything positive Obama does and exaggerating every negative. They feel they need to undermine support for the two major parties at all costs. Those who advocate direct action tactics in place of electoral politics, do the same. Some progressive Democrats join the chorus, made hardened cynics by years of disappointing third-way politics.

It has become clear that we can’t rely on many of these pundits for honest commentary or an accurate picture of what’s really going on. They always push the same message of disappointment and cynicism, even when there’s reason to celebrate a victory. It’s the same pattern of placing ideology over reality that we see from Fox News.

We know what to expect from Fox, conservative talk radio, and House Republicans. Anything Obama supports, they oppose, even if they supported it the week before. Their commentary is a non-stop parade of speculative accusations and exaggeration. It’s important that we call out and rebut those voices on the left who engage in the same behavior, lest we mirror the echo-chamber in a bubble that the talk-radio cult of the right has become.

I could catalog a long list of examples over the past four years, but today, I’ll stick with the most recent episode. A pundit-blogger complex of hysteria has emerged around threats to Social Security and Medicare. No doubt, we must speak up to protect these programs that are under assault, and Obama must be pressured to stand by them. There’s indication that he’s at least willing to negotiate with Republicans who want to fundamentally change both programs. But, the effort to defend has escaped into the realm of fantasy by the pundits who cry wolf.

The reality of what Obama says on Social Security and Medicare are things most progressives support. He speaks about minor reforms, like lifting the income cap on paying into the system. He does not publicly advocate major cuts or the privatization schemes favored by Republicans. Despite the lack of any discernible effort by Obama to attack either program, there’s a mountain of anonymous-source stories and tortured interpretations of vague statements to prove that Obama is out to put grandma in the poor house!

We were told the Simpson-Bowles “cat food commission” was proof that Obama was leading the assault on Social Security. That turned out to be a false alarm. The cuts they proposed were not large, and would have made the system more progressive by increasing benefits to low-income retirees. They even proposed lifting the income cap on paying into the system, which is the only change Social Security really needs. But, Obama refused to support even those minor changes because the recommended cuts were too deep. To my knowledge, none of the pundits who predicted the deficit commission was part of Obama’s secret plot to destroy Social Security admitted to their error. They readied for the next scare.

Next, we were told Obama was selling out retirees in the debt ceiling fight. Once again, it didn’t happen.

Most recently, they were sure Obama was itching to deeply cut Social Security and Medicare. Not just because he was forced to negotiate with a Republican majority in Congress who hate the middle class, but because, as Cenk put it, it’s what he really wanted all along. Cenk and others similarly minded would have us believe that, despite years of plainly expressing strong support for Social Security and Medicare, Obama has been waiting for just the right moment to leap out of the shadows, revealing his true self, thirsting for the blood of poor seniors! Does he remind you of NRA leaders who convince fearful gun owners that Obama is just waiting for the right moment to take everyone’s guns away? Continue reading The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The Differing Prices of Freedom and Profit

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Recycling is a noble goal except when it comes to politics. Unless it’s a way forward, pushing the same ideas year after year is ignoble and ignorant. But yet again, we see the return of the single note of the dead horse of the tax cut, with the Republicans grabbing the crop and flailing away, going nowhere. Soundly rejected at the polls, they keep the idea alive that tax cuts are an idea that America can ride.

Rather than prosperity, their argument is really about power. In a government the size of America’s, more important than legislative power, the power to make laws, is budget power, the power to buy and cut, to control the purse. The advantage of politicizing the balance sheet is that buying and cutting happens outside of the public’s eye. Name the builder who got the plumbing contract for your local schools; name the company that makes the cockpit canopies for jet fighters; or the manufacturer of something as common as the military’s MREs (ready to eat meals); I can’t. Through government, we spend lots of money on things we don’t know about and have no idea how much they they cost. We also spend money on services—health care, food—that impact people directly, and these programs are well known.

The Republican path to power doesn’t involve innovation or efficiency; nor is its end goal savings. Their hunger for power recycles the buzz words “tax cut” because it opens the way to changes in the balance sheet and advances the Republican drive for power on different fronts at the same time.

One of the unique properties of democracy is that rights are expanded through government. By the same authority of government, rights can be diminished. For those with intra-gender preference, the expansion of rights to marriage, open military service, survivor’s benefits, child adoption, non-discrimination and job opportunities is tied directly to the powers of government, state and federal. The contraction of rights, say in a woman’s right to choose, also results from attacks led through government, aimed at the money spent to create the opportunities of reproductive choice. State legislation barred money from being used for choice procedures and has piled on building requirements that make it almost impossible to operate a clinic; the costs of the required modifications are too high. Continue reading The Differing Prices of Freedom and Profit

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

A Friendly Reminder

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

A friendly reminder… just in case you forgot.

The enemy of your enemy still isn’t your friend.

The TV “news media” still carries water for the corporations that own and operate their networks, and/or sponsor their broadcasts.

TV “journalists” are still brainless bobbleheads who spew whatever they are paid to spew.   And what they are paid to spew is still anti-Dem/pro-GOP crapola.

The political websites that were catapulting rightwing propaganda during the BushCo years are still doing exactly that.  Only more so.  They did not become legit news sources at any time in the past – and will not become legit news sources at any time in the future.  Quoting their fallacies as facts is still as annoying as it was when the Republicans were doing it – it is even more annoying when done by self-proclaimed Democrats.

An unidentified “someone” is still not a reliable source for anything.   That includes the entire Someone Family:  someone in a position to know, someone in attendance, someone who heard, someone who knows someone, someone sworn to secrecy, someone who you’d-die-if-you-knew-who-it-was, and the ever-popular someone who can only speak on the basis of anonymity.

This is especially true of the latest “someone” on the scene, that all-knowing and downright prescient “someone who is familiar with this Administration’s thought processes.”   This particular someone is invariably touted as “knowing” exactly what the POTUS will say or do on any given issue – the after-the-fact inaccuracy thereof never being acknowledged.

The RW loudmouths who were lying, self-serving assholes during the Bush administration are still lying, self-serving assholes.  They didn’t suddenly become honest and intelligent, nor interested in your welfare or that of the country.  They were full of BS when they told you there were WMDs in Iraq; they are full of BS when they tell you that Obama plans to destroy Social Security or Medicaid.

The legitimacy of polls and/or the accuracy of their numbers doesn’t fluctuate commensurate with what you personally want to hear.

The RW Troll is still alive and well, and infiltrating Democratic message boards.  They pose as former Obama supporters who feel a need to express their disappointment with his leadership as often as possible.  How to spot them?  Well, posting nothing but RW talking points and cut-and-pastes of every negative article they can find about Obama and the Democratic Party – to the exclusion of anything else, ever – is usually a damned good, in-your-face, how-obvious-can-it-be indicator. Continue reading A Friendly Reminder

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Reagan & Bush Tax Cuts and the Theft of Your Money

Adam Zyglis Cartoon
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Its’ the 10th Anniversary of the Bush Tax Cuts, seems like the perfect day to get down to what’s really been going on with taxes. When I say taxes, I mean yours and my . . . → Read More: Reagan & Bush Tax Cuts and the Theft of Your Money