The Republicans in Congress have done nothing since they were elected except sit back and throw spit balls at any sort of real governing that the Democrats attempt. They offer no real compromise, no workable alternative. Their constituents should be boiling mad at their elected officials’ unwillingness to govern.
Here is a noteworthy email I got yesterday from Think Progress:
Last week, the president put out his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, including $1.6 TRILLION in new tax revenues, $1.5 TRILLION in spending cuts that have already been enacted, $400 BILLION in additional targeted spending cuts, and additional measures to stimulate growth, including an extension of emergency unemployment benefits and new investments in infrastructure.
While Republicans have laughed at the president’s plan, said it is not “serious,” and have already fabricated new myths in order to attack it, there’s one thing they haven’t done until today: offer any real alternative.
A prime example of the GOP’s refusal to offer their own credible alternative plan was on display yesterday when Speaker Boehner (R-OH) was pressed on the details of the GOP plan by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Boehner avoided any details and refused to say which tax deductions Republicans could cap or eliminate.
Just a couple hours ago, House Republicans finally offered an alternative: some of the worst of the GOP’s recent budget ideas along with $800 BILLION in new revenues from a tax plan that lowers rates and closes loopholes. And, unlike the new revenue proposed by the president, even this revenue is not locked in. It’s to come as a part of a yet to be determined tax reform plan to be put together by Congress.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It is similar to the plan that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on — and lost. And now Republicans are trying to put it forward as a credible alternative to the policies the president ran on — and won.
Let’s review in brief why this GOP plan does not pass muster:
- It raises the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and includes deep cuts to both it and the Medicaid program. As we’ve discovered over the past two years, these ideas are both unfair to seniors and the middle class and are also highly unpopular. Raising the Medicare eligibility age is yet another change that simply shifts costs away from the government and onto seniors. In fact, it would actually result in higher overall health care spending.
- It doesn’t generate enough potential revenue to guarantee that programs that protect the needy, benefit the middle class, and make investments in the future won’t be subject to very deep cuts.
- It could place tax deductions for the middle class, not just the wealthiest Americans, at risk. This could actually mean lower taxes for the rich and higher taxes for the middle class.
- It does not seem to address the debt ceiling, affording Republicans yet another opportunity to manufacture a crisis and crash the entire economy unless a fresh set of their demands are met over the next few months.
The Republican proposal states that it is based on a plan put forward last year by Erskine Bowles (not to be confused with a different plan put forward by both Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson). Bowles, however, denied that that was the case today and also noted that “circumstances have changed” since then.
BOTTOM LINE: Any plan that fails to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and forces seniors and the middle class to shoulder the burden of dealing with our debt is neither balanced nor credible.
Liberalism saved Western civilization from the tyranny of the church. Liberalism freed us from superstition and its sequelae (sic), like burning people who said “no” to the dominant power; and it gave us freedom and democracy and science, leading to a world where people were free to make their own decisions and to pursue individual happiness rather than a path bound on all sides by damnation, dictated for them by religious authorities.
Conservatives have never quite gotten over this rejection of the past and with it, of their ultimate, capital-T Truth. We have seen them convince themselves in recent years of liberalism’s essential illigitimacy (sic) as a political ideology, leaving liberalism’s success, let alone its continued existence, to confound them.
Throughout our history, Republicans have sweat blood trying to re-define liberalism in a disparaging way. They have placed “anti-liberalism” high on their agenda as a method of winning hearts and minds of enough of a voting block to win elections. Evidence of this comes as recent as the last two elections. The tea-party hysteria of 2009/10 which was all about, but not limited to, birthers, 9-11 thruthers, anti-science, and anti-tax (This is low hanging fruit for opposition parties since the time of Alexander the Great. It is an easy way to win points with the electorate without actually having a plan to govern.), anti-immigrant, and a plethora of anti-Obama talking points swept Republicans into office all across the US and the House of Representatives.
Along with this has been their very effective years-long campaign to paint the American media as liberal – as if liberal were a bad word. The result of this has been the total ineffectiveness of the media to mediate the discourse and remind us all of what is actually true.
While Republicans offer up theory after theory of why liberalism is going to be the death of us all, and at the same time they fail to offer up any viable alternative to the liberal view that appeals to anyone who is neither white, nor over 50, nor Christian, nor straight, nor xenophobic, nor misogynistic, nor racist. They are quick to tell you how liberals think, how foreigners think, and how God thinks. Claiming the corner on “what God wants” has got to be the most arrogant and presumptuous position in the annals of political history.
If you want solid empirical evidence of this “anti-liberalism” approach to governing, you have to look no further than recent issues and the current US Senate. The health insurance mandate was dreamed up by conservative economists in the 1980’s.
They wanted a market-based alternative to the liberal notion of universal health care which enjoyed popular opinion. Many Republicans supported the idea. But, they have since turned on it because Obama is for it. And that’s all. They offer up no other explanation except that it will kill jobs/ruin the economy/destroy America – all without any factual basis.
They want an economy without government interference based on a market that self-corrects. Here’s the truth: If the market could self-correct, it would have already done so. The crash of 2008 is a prime example. Without a rapid response from the government, we would all be in bread lines still, along with the former rich.
The current US Senate has obstructed every bill that the Democrats have introduced without offering any viable alternative or compromise. They have used the filibuster to deny cloture to more legislation than any in history. Since January of 2010, the Senate Republicans have blocked over 375 bills including the farm bill, jobs bill, and the food safety bill. They have not once moved to compromise with the Democrats because their definition of compromise is total capitulation.
Anti-liberalism has become their mantra. This is why they lost Presidential and Senate elections. During the campaign Romney offered nothing more substantial than “trust me”, “I have business experience” (torn apart by the Obama campaign), and “Obama is bad” – mostly the latter. Now they find themselves in the awkward position of having to find themselves. I think the election was a splash in the face for the right, a wake up call, to see the U.S. as it really is rather than looking through their “anti-liberalism” glasses. This could be a good thing for America.