Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A lot rides on this coming election. It’s good that the US can choose the direction it will go.

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This coming election will be interesting, especially since some Republicans running for major office (e.g., the governorship of Nevada) have indicated that they will not accept the outcome of the election if they lose. That is, they either win the election outright or want to override the results. Since equity is important, I would imagine they would recommend the same for their opponent: do not accept a loss. That will make the post-election period intense and violence-prone, but I think that is what Republicans want (see their support for the January 6 attempt to overturn the election and reverse the electoral count).

Heather Cox Richardson writes:

In their year and a half in power, Democrats have put in place policies that are widely popular—indeed, the infrastructure projects provided for under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act are so popular that Republicans who voted against the law are nonetheless taking credit for them. Voters have long called for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies (83% in favor), now made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, which also caps certain drug expenses, including the cost of insulin. Between 80 and 90% of Americans want basic gun control laws—the Democrats just passed the first one in decades—and a majority want funding for action against climate change (65%) and relief for educational debt (55%).

Support for supplying Ukraine against Russia stands at 73%, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken in early October. Support for Ukraine was a bipartisan commitment that changed only after Trump had the 2016 Republican platform, which had expressed support for Ukraine, watered down.

What has not been popular in the past year and a half, in fact, what has been quite unpopular, is the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. About 62% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 8% believe it should be illegal in all cases, and 28% believe it should be illegal in most cases.

Since June, when the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision, the news has reported multiple cases of raped children unable to obtain abortions in their home states, girls and women unable to obtain medications to treat long-term illnesses because those drugs can also induce abortion, women diagnosed with cancer who cannot get treatment, women whose fetuses have conditions incompatible with life and who cannot terminate the pregnancy, and women whose health is at risk as they are unable to obtain the healthcare they need as they are miscarrying—all of this just as abortion rights advocates warned would happen if the court overturned Roe v. Wade. Since the Dobbs decision, Democrats have outperformed expectations in four special House elections and one state referendum.

The popularity of the Democrats’ agenda and the unpopularity of their own appear to have pushed the Republicans to go for broke, courting their base by demanding the utter destruction of Democrats’ policies and the reinstatement of their own.

Since the 1980s, Republican leaders have embraced the idea that cutting taxes and concentrating wealth at the top of the economy will spark economic growth, although “supply side” economics has never produced as promised. They insist the programs Biden and the Democrats back are “socialism,” and their base agrees. Their base also hates abortion rights.

To sidestep the gulf between their base and the majority of voters, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declined to announce any sort of an agenda before the midterm elections, telling donors that party leaders would just attack the Democrats.

There have been signs, though, of what the Republicans will do if they regain control of one or both of the houses of Congress, and top of the list was cutting the programs at the heart of our social welfare system: Social Security and Medicare. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) called for sunsetting all laws every five years and repassing them; Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) called for making Social Security and Medicare part of the discretionary budget, meaning their funding would have to be reapproved every year.

Republicans have also said they would pass a law to make the 2017 Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations permanent, a move economists say would increase inflation. “The trick is to put the president in a position of either getting defeated in 2024 or signing your stuff into law,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich told Jeff Stein of the Washington Post. “Republicans will make it a priority to continue the Trump tax cuts, because it puts the Democrats in a position of being for tax increases and against economic growth.”

Recently, though, Republicans have been much clearer, warning that they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling in order to force Biden to agree to their demands to “reform” Social Security and Medicare by raising the age of eligibility and means testing. (Democrats have said they would stabilize the programs with higher taxes on the wealthy.)

This is a huge deal. While Trump has urged MAGA Republicans in the past to use the threat of the debt ceiling to get concessions, responsible Republicans have refused to play chicken with the global financial markets and with our own financial future, for defaulting even for a matter of hours will wash away our financial might. Raising the debt ceiling is not a future blank check, it enables the U.S. to meet bills it has already incurred, and refusing to do so will throw the U.S. into a catastrophic default. Congress has raised the debt ceiling repeatedly in the past forty years, but Republicans have apparently come around to Trump’s position that playing to their base is worth taking the U.S. hostage.

Republicans are also signaling a change in U.S. support for Ukraine . . .

Continue reading. And this whole column is worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 October 2022 at 3:27 am

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