“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.” – Bill Clinton’s speech at 2012 Democratic National Convention
No doubt Bill Clinton’s comments speaking to the delegates at the Democratic National Convention was on par with Michelle Obama’s as being the most inspiring and revealing speech about President Obama and the challenges he faces from the Republicans. But unlike the First Lady, Clinton I think more accurately framed the narrative that Americans needs to hear. Fact checkers can pick at his details but the basic message is sound and in my opinion, represents the reality of who and what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are all about.
That opening quote of his at the top of this page is perhaps the clearest synopsis I’ve seen yet of the GOP’s strategy if they regain the oval office. Line after line of Clinton’s convention speech was spot on and laconic. It was not laden with the legalese that lawyers and politicians hiding something often use and it was in this folksy vernacular that gives it its strongest appeal
In the Romney/Ryan 5-point plan to fix the economy there is nothing outlined that suggest how they will achieve what he proposes. In fact, the proposals are so generic that you can just as easily extrapolate them over to the Democratic platform.
It can honestly be said that though Obama’s speech was only slightly more specific on how he would achieve his goals, he was, in the words of Slate’s John Dickerson, “far more [straight-talking] than his Republican rival”.
Romney and Ryan talked about hard choices, but only in the abstract, never really pointing out that it was the people who would have to endure the hard results of those choices. Obama was more up front. Restoring the middle-class dream would require sacrifice and struggle from everyone, the president said. ”The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place.” This speech was more like the one he gave on election night in Chicago: hard, clear-eyed, and earthbound.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney wanted points at their convention for the promise that they would tackle hard truths once they got into office. Obama wanted points for already having embraced hard truths. “I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth.” SOURCE
You can read the full 68 pages of the GOP platform to get the details on this but Clinton puts it more succinctly and without all of the lipstick and lace.
“they want to do the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place. They want to cut taxes for high- income Americans, even more than President Bush did. They want to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts. They want to actually increase defense spending over a decade $2 trillion more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend it on. And they want to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor children.”
Regarding that part about the $2 trillion extra they claim the Pentagon requested without knowing what it was going to be spent on, a CNN Money report back in May confirmed this and stated that this “lack of detail means that Romney’s claim of moving toward a balanced budget requires a great deal of trust.”
The Romney/Ryan ticket does indeed rely on voters to “just trust us” while they try to redirect the argument back to their talking point about how Obama has failed to keep his promises made to the American people back in 2008. One of those promises Romney claims was when the “newly elected President Obama told America that if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent.” Politifact.com debunked this notion on more than one occasion as it was made by various other Republican leaders. What’s truly interesting though is that of the some 500 promises that Obama is supposed to have made, 83 of them (or 16%) that have yet been kept, according to Politifact.com’s count, are promises that not only are absent in Romney’s criticism of the President but are mostly those that Romney and the GOP support, like not closing GITMO or ending the Bush tax cuts
At the heart of this attack however is that Obama has failed to resolve our great economic recession in less than 4 years in office. Though his efforts to reshape the economy have misfired some of the times and many American’s public finances are suffering, writers for The Economist say holding the president solely responsible for our current state isn’t an accurate assessment.
To say Obama blew it “is not a fair judgment on Mr Obama’s record, which must consider not just the results but the decisions he took, the alternatives on offer and the obstacles in his way. Seen in that light, the report card is better. His handling of the crisis and recession were impressive.” SOURCE
Those “obstacles in his way” mentioned by The Economist are the recalcitrant GOP who have opposed nearly every policy and piece of legislation put forth by the Obama administration since the Republicans won a majority in the House back in 2010. Long before that however he’s been attacked by the corporate-backed TEA Party who lost sight of those responsible for the bailout of America’s financial institutions and what caused their unraveling that led to the worst recession since the early 1930’s. Any actions perceived to address our economic woes by the GOP have been guided too strongly by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s Party fiat that placed a “top political priority” on making President Obama a one-term president. He reiterated this on FOX News seven months later stating that it was still his major objective “along with every active Republican in the country.”
In their abuse of the filibuster and delaying tactics to block Presidential appointments through the advise and consent procedure, Republicans have aimed “to embarrass the president and hobble his ability to run the executive branch”, according to the authors of the book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extremism by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein (p. 100) In so doing they can make the president appear incompetent to the public and malign him on news shows to create a poor image to voters.
… since 2006, but especially since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the filibuster is more often a stealth weapon, which minority Republicans use not to highlight an important national issue but to delay and obstruct quietly on nearly all matters, including routine and widely supported one. It is fair to say that this pervasive use of the filibuster has never before happened in the history of the Senate. Mann and Ornstein – p.89 (emphasis mine)
The Party has been further aided in undermining Obama’s presidency with the Citizens United decision that lets huge sums of money into political campaigns. Karl Rove’s super Pac, American Crossroads GPS, for example told potential donors that they would conduct “in-depth research on congressional expense account abuses”, to blame Democrats for “failed border controls” and to frame the BP oil spill as “Obama’s Katrina.” Then of course there has been the complicity of many news outlets that promote Republican talking points or fail to do journalistic due diligence and research many of the claims made by Republican talking heads.
What voters need to take away from this campaign is the understanding of what Obama really did and didn’t promise, which seems to unnerve the GOP candidates. The promises Obama made in 2008, like the one’s he made last Thursday night, require active participation and the willingness by every capable soul to help in that endeavor. No one man can do everything alone nor should he be expected to or have blame laid solely at his feet. It was the understanding that with everyone’s help that such promises could reasonably be achieved. It is in part those of us who had expectations beyond the realm of reality that are at fault for our disappointment that the economy has not rebounded better than we hoped.
For anyone to assume their job is done once their vote is cast is a level of apathy only slightly higher than one who doesn’t vote at all or chooses not to get involved with the political process in any way. But even worse are those people who not only sit on their hands but who actively engage in preventing any forward motion, even if they don’t like the guy. Saying it’s a wrong-headed policy before it’s been given a chance and based only on ideological views is part of the political back-and-forth between political adversaries. But for those who actively engage in obstructionist practices that stymie those legitimate efforts simply to enhance their own political agenda, borders, in my opinion, close to treason.
That leaves me closing with Bill Clinton who has made the best expression of these unhealthy, hurtful actions by the GOP leadership.
Now, there’s something I’ve noticed lately. You probably have too. And it’s this. Maybe just because I grew up in a different time, but though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president and a lot of other Democrats.
When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good. But what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. What works in the real world is cooperation, business and government, foundations and universities.
Folks, whether the American people believe what I just said or not may be the whole election. I just want you to know that I believe it. With all my heart, I believe it.
READ BILL CLINTON”S ENTIRE SPEECH HERE
I thought I knew most of what I needed to know about the Tea Party’s sweetheart, Ayn Rand, until I read Mark Ames’ coverage of Rand’s sociopathic affinity for serial killers. I knew she had an unrealistic ideal view of the hero character she portrays in her works but I wasn’t aware just how much she attributed a decadent sense of morality to people like her fictional Howard Rourke in The Fountainhead “who was born without the ability to consider others.”
I’ll leave it to the reader to view Ames’ awful truth about the serial killer William Edward Hickman who Rand was infatuated with but do want to share the theme of Ames’ article and a quote by Rand that explains why people on the far right view people who have fallen on hard times as parasites when they seek some government assistance to tide them over until the economy improves.
With Paul Ryan’s recent ascendency to the post of presumed GOP vice-presidential nominee, it should be remembered what a big fan the Wisconsin congressman is of Ayn Rand. He proudly acknowledges how he expects all of his staff people to read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to get an idea of what the “ideal” American should look like in the fictional character of John Galt. Here’s a quote from Ms. Rand that reflects I suppose what her characters in her novels are supposed to epitomize.
“If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite.”
Congressman Ryan is on record for saying how “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.” And here we thought the Christian conservatives in this country believed the bible made the best case for morality, including the New Testament where Jesus lays bare the core principles of today’s Christianity that elevates the spirit of altruism. The religious right in this country screams “persecution” when prayer is removed from public schools and the Ten Commandments are taken from public edifices. Yet they apparently have no problem holding up the laissez-faire economic model that repudiates helping those in their hour of need. Jesus himself would be seen as a weakling in Rand’s novels and would have justified the crowd’s chant to “crucify him”.
So come election time this November, remember who the GOP represent and have starkly selected to represent them in the White House. Mark Ames’ conclusion to his unmasking of the fringe element that seeks to gain control of what’s left of the government, handed to us by some of the early founding fathers, is a warning that needs to be absorbed by that angry contingent who thinks they know what will restore “America’s greatness”.
Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Baggers dividing up the world between “producers” and “collectivism,” just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them threaten to “Go John Galt,” hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers — or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and brag about their plans to slash them for “moral” reasons, just remember Ayn’s morality and who inspired her.
If the GOP does regain the seats of power following the fall elections, it will be the results again of a successful campaign by the power brokers in this country to keep the public uninformed about issues that negatively impact their own self interests.
We have been pumped so full of smoke up our backsides for the last couple of years by GOP/TeaPartiers and their media mouthpieces about how a policy of “austerity”, through government spending cuts, would reduce the deficit and stimulate economic growth, without having any real evidence that such a tactic honestly works. Raising taxes of course would not be necessary in the GOP/TeaParty way of looking at solutions because the lowering deficits, vis a vis lower government spending, would instill confidence in the free market. This confidence would then encourage the business community in this country to start expanding their business and create jobs. This would have the added benefit, they claim, of generating the revenue we need to pay down our deficit rather than raising taxes to tackle this nasty, lingering problem – wink, wink.
Well set aside any doubts or assurances you may have had, depending on your politico-economic perceptions, and observe some reality based evidence that shows the austerity method of the GOP/TeaPartiers is NOT a fiscal plan of action that will do a better job at economic recovery than what Obama and his administration have been doing thus far. In fact, it will most likely have the reverse affect. Paul Krugman points out that “Keynesians have been completely right, Austerians utterly wrong — at vast human cost.”
Let me set the record straight here too. I am not saying that what Obama has been doing has been been spot on. It hasn’t. It’s weakness is that what stimulus got passed back in early 2009 was way too small because the new administration was making too many concessions to the GOP/TeaParty who have been touting austerity policies since the President took office. Rather than making the stimulus package bigger, Obama kow-towed to the shrills of the GOP and invested too little to generate a more vigorous, sustaining recovery.
But had he not listened more to the Keynesian views of those within his Party and caved completely to the advocates of the economic views of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, who opposed governments intervening to aid economic recovery, our economic disaster would have sunk even deeper into the abyss, creating even higher unemployment rates and greater loss of homes and retirement savings.
So where’s this evidence that brings home the salient point of austerity’s failure? Across the pond in Great Britain.
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy slid into its second recession since the financial crisis after official data unexpectedly showed a fall in output in the first three months of 2012, piling pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron’s embattled coalition government.
The Office for National Statistics said Britain’s gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after contracting by 0.3 percent at the end of 2011, confounding forecasts for 0.1 percent growth. – SOURCE
Since taking over the British government in May 2010 here’s what the conservatives have achieved with their deep spending cuts to deal with their recession.
Even though the Bank of England has warned that there is a risk of another contraction in the second quarter of 2012, Prime Minister Cameron, a favorite of American conservatives, intends to stay with his austerity program by not providing “further monetary stimulus through quantitative easing asset purchases.” This means “Britain will continue on a death spiral of self-defeating austerity”, says Krugman.
This is what the leaders of the GOP/TeaParty have in store for this country if they can convince voters to put them back in control of both houses of Congress and the White House
… the [Republican] party has spent almost three years demanding immediate and painful austerity measures. The GOP put [Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)] in charge of ‘committing us’ to a “Path” of sharp, short-sighted cuts that economists say would make unemployment worse, as the IMF says austerity policies have always done. SOURCE
How quick this news spreads to all voting blocs in this country will be interesting to watch. Many on-line services are already posting on this immediately following it’s release early Wednesday by Britain’s Office for National Statistics. But what will be critical is how quickly AND how frequently this economic reality gets played out on the MSM networks.
I suspect that what we will see is what we have been seeing for years. That corporate-owned media outlets who support austerity programs will give this very little to no attention. Though business profits have done very well under Obama’s economic policies there are those ideologues within the GOP that insists killing public sector jobs is the only sure road to a more rapid and full recovery.
“Austerity during a serious recession is economically insane. It is a pro-cyclical policy that makes the recession more severe.” - Bill Black
Just when you thought the Catholic Church might score a few points for themselves to rise above their miserable handling of sexually abusive priests they go and fumble the ball and show just how distanced they are from those they are supposed to serve.
Some of us stood up and took notice recently when some Catholic religious leaders scolded the GOP’s budget that attacked programs benefitting the poor and disenfranchised.
When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his latest “Path to Prosperity” budget last month, it was immediately admonished as an “immoral disaster” that “robs the poor” by Catholic religious leaders. SOURCE
Being raised in the Catholic Church, this is what I expect of Christians. It is one of the core values of the faith that works to remove the suffering of those in society who are in need of basic essentials to sustain life
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done – Proverbs 19:17
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40
Though no longer a member of the Catholic faith (or any organized religion for that matter), I couldn’t help but feel a little pride to hear that there were still those within the faith willing to publicly defend what I have always found to be the most appealing aspect of Christianity.
But they couldn’t leave well enough alone. Their self-absorbed dogmatic selves had to once again show how dysfunctional the church leadership is.
The Vatican is accusing the largest organization of catholic nuns in America of falling out of line with church teachings — while promoting “radical feminist themes”.
The reprimand was aimed at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group that represents most of America’s 57,000 catholic sisters. The Vatican praised the nuns for “promoting social justice” but slams them for protesting church doctrine – on women’s ordination and homosexuals. The Vatican also complains the nuns have been “silent” on issues like the right to life and abortion. SOURCE
What goes on in the minds of some of those in leadership positions within the Church? For years they cover up the sexual abuses between priests and young boys and try to down play it when it finally becomes public but without any public outcry on how nuns are dealing with some social issues the Church brings umbrage to the fact that many of their nuns aren’t demonizing gays and young girls enough who find themselves faced with an unwanted pregnancy
“As public representatives by their very existence they have an obligation to reflect fundamental church teaching on matters,” said Father Robert Kaslyn of Catholic University.
Yes, we’re all familiar with that part of the new testament that has Jesus condemning social outcasts and deviants, even standing in to be the first to cast a stone at the sinful harlot brought to him by the morally upright crowd who found her simply trying to survive as a single woman in a patriarchal society
So, they expect obeisance on something that challenges the teachings of Jesus but say nothing of priests who rob young children of their innocence as long as they don’t rock their doctrinal boat?
The Paul Ryan/GOP budget finally made available nearly three years since the GOP started whining about Obama’s stimulus package and the spending it entailed has been touted as a serious piece of legislation. Ryan makes claims about his plan in a WSJ Op-ed, that have been seriously challenged by other objective sources like the impartial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and both conservative and moderate economist.
David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget Director says the GOP plan “doesn’t address in any serious or courageous way the issue of the near and medium-term deficit” and further criticizes its ill-fated belief that any deficit problem can be seriously resolved without generating revenue through taxes. The Libertarian economist Tyler Cowen says “the plan doesn’t do anything to control health care costs, and cutting Medicaid is neither good policy, nor urgent. Indeed, he notes, ‘Medicaid should be one of the last parts of the health care budget to cut.’” (Conservative Economists Criticize ‘Off The Deep End’ Republican Budget, by Brian Beutler, TPMDC, 4/11/11)
Ryan and the GOP’s claim to credibility is severely undercut through it’s use of data from the right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. One of the most absurd presumptions by an author of this Heritages analysis, William Beach, was that Ryan’s plan would reduce unemployment to 2.8% before he retracted it later under fire from serious economists.
All of the numbers that Ryan and the Heritage Foundation have proposed in this bill have been aptly challenged and debunked but I’ll leave it to the reader to go over the details here. What I would like someone to seriously answer for me is just one aspect of the budget claim. How is Medicare going to be made better or even remain the same once it is converted to a block grant for the states to choose how best to serve their citizens?
I live in the state of Texas where any federal funding that serves social needs of the states poor, elderly and disabled is frowned on and considered a burden to deal with. Recently conservative legislators have talked about getting out of the Federal/State Medicare program to fight their deficit problems. If Ryan’s plan provides block grant money giving conservative legislators the power to determine how it will be spent, I fear we will see more people hurt than helped. There are already 6 million uninsured people in Texas and the state’s population growth is one of the nation’s highest, meaning that rate is likely to increase proportionately.
The block grant money is to be allocated by the state to individuals so they can purchase insurance from the private sector on their own. If red flags didn’t just go up with you on this information then you are not paying the full health care premium for your policy. This makes you an employed worker whose company has a health insurance benefits or you are still on your parents’ policy.
That leaves the unemployed in this state, including children, the disabled and the elderly to find insurance from an industry that until recently has been able to exclude them from coverage for pre-existing conditions they have (that would be all the disabled people) or whose age puts them in the high risk category (that would be children and the elderly).
However the current health care reform that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions is being threatened by repeal (a move by the way that would increase the deficit) by those same Republicans and conservatives that want to opt out of the current Medicare program. Does this sound promising to you if you fall into the above mentioned categories? Health insurance rates are high for everyone but for those people who work for a living, making wages near the poverty level, it is virtually unaffordable. In fact, unless you are a family of three making over $18,312 annually, you cannot qualify for state assistance.
Needles to say poor families struggle the most trying to find effective, low-cost health insurance but the sad truth is that most have to forego this expense and are only served by the state when their health deteriorates to a level that will then qualify them. In my case though my age is now a factor that determines whether or not I can buy health care insurance.
My wife is still currently employed as a nurse with a school district looking to cut positions to reduce the state’s $27 billion deficit. It costs an extra $425 a month to insure me but at least I have coverage. But when she retires in a few short years (if she hasn’t been terminated before then) we will only have my Social Security benefits and a meager amount of retirement funds to sustain us. The state’s retirement system my wife is on opted out of social security for them years ago. These resources are insufficient to purchase private health care insurance on our own.
Rep. Ryan says that his plan to fund medicare after 2022 is “not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, to the plan chosen by the beneficiary, subsidizing its cost.” And though this model claims to allow people to “choose a plan that works best for them” it must be done “from a list of guaranteed coverage options”. As usual the devil is in the details so I am curious as to whose on this list and what extent the coverage is in these “guaranteed options”.
Ryan claims his plan will ensure that “Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower-income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks.” Knowing how reluctant Republicans are now to spend money on anything except tax breaks for the wealthy, can we be assured that whoever makes such decisions will do so based on needs prescribed by our physician or will they allow the for-profit health insurers to make that call. Currently this is not a problem for Medicare recipients so I worry that people turning 65 in 2022 will have less health security than this current generation of elders.
Also, I have not seen any wording in Ryan’s plan about cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and correcting Medicare benefits as inflation impacts them. Again, I worry about the sincerity of those who think somehow all people are equally capable to provide for their own welfare. Are they willing to take measures to protect the most vulnerable amongst us who physically cannot make it on their own by locking into a system that will address future costs without expecting beneficiaries to somehow find the means beyond their fixed incomes to do so?
My guess is they will only do so when enough people scream loud and long enough and by then it will be too late for some while others must endure for the time it will take these foot-draggers to accommodate those who depend on Medicare’s services.
So, here’s my offer to jump on your band wagon Paul Ryan. Present your bill with iron clad assurances that future recipients of Medicare and Medicaid will not suffer any less quality of services than those who are currently enrolled. Furthermore, assure us that those people who decide who do and don’t qualify are people connected with direct care in the health care field and do not have vested, for-profit interests in undermining the system; large stock holders in CIGNA Health Insurance Corp. for example
If, as you suggest, your plan is arranged to control health care costs and thus current services can be sustained without any tax increases to do so, please describe in detail how this will be achieved. Furthermore, in the event that everyone else is right and you and the Heritage Foundation are way off the mark, a trigger mechanism in the bill should be included that will discontinue it’s legitimacy and we can revert back to the existing system with this caveat – it will be reimplemented with the objectives stated in the President’s health care reform bill to eliminate waste and fraud and curb rising health care costs; the ones you are saying that are not there.
Keeping Medicare and Medicaid Strong? (Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.)
Kill Medicaid and Medicare and You Eliminate Social Security(woodgatesview.wordpress.com)