Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category
Two impossible things happened to the U.S. economy over the course of the past year — or at least they were supposed to be impossible, according to the ideology that dominates half our political spectrum. First, remember how Obamacare was supposed to be a gigantic job killer? Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas.
Were President Obama’s policies the cause of national job growth? Did Jerry Brown — the tax-raising, Obamacare-embracing governor of California — engineer his state’s boom? No, and few liberals would claim otherwise. What we’ve been seeing at both the national and the state level is mainly a natural process of recovery as the economy finally starts to heal from the housing and debt bubbles of the Bush years.
But recent job growth, nonetheless, has big political implications — implications so disturbing to many on the right that they are in frantic denial, claiming that the recovery is somehow bogus. Why can’t they handle the good news? The answer actually comes on three levels: Obama Derangement Syndrome, or O.D.S.; Reaganolatry; and the confidence con.
Not much need be said about O.D.S. It is, by now, a fixed idea on the right that this president is both evil and incompetent, that everything touched by the atheist Islamic Marxist Kenyan Democrat — mostly that last item — must go terribly wrong. When good news arrives about the budget, or the economy, or Obamacare — which is, by the way, rapidly reducing the number of uninsured while costing much less than expected — it must be denied.
At a deeper level, modern conservative ideology utterly depends on the proposition that conservatives, and only they, possess the secret key to prosperity. As a result, you often have politicians on the right making claims like this one, from Senator Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.”
Actually, if creating “millions of jobs” means adding two million or more jobs in a given year, we’ve done that 13 times since Reagan left office: eight times under Bill Clinton, twice under George W. Bush, and three times, so far, under Barack Obama. But who’s counting?
Still, don’t liberals have similar delusions? Not really. The economy added 23 million jobs under Clinton, compared with 16 million under Reagan, but there’s nothing on the left comparable to the cult of the Blessed Ronald. That’s because liberals don’t need to claim that their policies will produce spectacular growth. All they need to claim is feasibility: that we can do things like, say, guaranteeing health insurance to everyone without killing the economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, want to block such things and, instead, to cut taxes on the rich and slash aid to the less fortunate. So they must claim both that liberal policies are job killers and that being nice to the rich is a magic elixir.
Which brings us to the last point: the confidence con. . .
Be careful what you ask for: GOP Rep asks on Facebook for Obamacare horror stories from constituents
And doubtless the answers she received did indeed fill her with horror. Jen Hayden writes at Daily Kos:
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers posted an image on her official Facebook page, slamming the Affordable Care Act on the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing it into law. She asked constituents to share their Obamacare nightmare stories and well, the response probably wasn’t what she expected. Below are a small sample of the comments constituents left on her page:
My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn’t get health insurance. Now they all have it, thanks to the ACA and President Obama, and their plans are as good as the one my employer provides–and they pay less for them. Now, that’s not the kind of story you want to hear. You want to hear made-up horror stories. I don’t know anyone with one of those stories.
I work for cancer care northwest. We actually have more patients with insurance and fewer having to choose treatment over bankruptcy. Cathy, I’m a die hard conservative and I’m asking you to stop just slamming Obamacare. Fix it, change it or come up with a better idea! Thanks
With Obamacare, I saved 300 bucks a month premium.. I have more coverage.. I like ObamaCare and can’t wait til we go to the next step… Medicare for ALL.
And now my daughter, diagnosed with MS at age 22, can have insurance. What do you plan to do with her?
My daughter is fighting for her life with stage 3 breast cancer! We are about to enter a second go round of diagnostic procedures and possibly more treatment after two full years of treatment! So yah! The ACA is more than helping! I resent that our rep thinks the only problems involve her personal story!
My whole family now has coverage. The ACA is the cause for this, I work in health care, I have seen the increase in covered patients first hand. The next step is universal coverage, this will truly lower costs and provide the best care. Cathy, you barely work, spend most of your time catering to special interests so you can be re-elected.. All while receiving a large wage and the best health insurance and care. Stop telling us how it doesn’t work while enjoying your tax payer funded care and life.
Instead of trying to repeal it why don’t you improve it? Our local rural clinics are packed daily with people who have needed healthcare for years!! it is a godsend. It is pitiful this nation does not have healthcare for all and that doesn’t mean the EMERGENCY room!!
Thanks to the ACA, my cousin was able to get affordable insurance despite her preexisting condition. So grateful.
I think we should repeal Obamacare, and replace it … with universal socialized medicine – like the rest of the industrialized nations of the world.
Hello Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers! I work as the facilitator of a task force that is overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington State. I have learned that the ACA is helping people who did not previously have health insurance get it. It is helping bring down medical costs. It is improving the quality of care. It is improving experiences of both patients and their families.
I work with doctors, nurses, hospital and clinic managers, non-profit service providers, citizens-at-large. Each of them can cite an improvement they would like to make to the Act. But whether they are Republican or Democrat, from urban or rural areas, powerful or not, they all say the ACA is working.
Can’t you and your Republican colleagues stop trying to repeal this Act and work to make it even more effective? Please?
Obama Care saved us when my husband was unemployed and we couldn’t afford coverage. We might have been ruined without it. My husband could not have had the eye surgery needed after an accident. So grateful.
We now have patients that can see a doctor in the clinic on time rather than waiting till they are too ill. ACA is saving lives and you are too stupid to realize that. Get your political view out of the way and see what is happening in our community because you have shown again and again it is not your community. I see that your son has Downs but not everyone in our community has it so get done with this supporting Downs to the neglect of everything else.
My plans are intact, premiums have increased as always, but what seems to be a lesser rate, my plan was not cancelled, I did not lose my doctor, I have not experienced reduced work hours, and it’s actually freed me from the chains of employer based being the ONLY path to coverage. #FEARMONGER
Those are just a small sample of the hundreds or even thousands of comments left on her Facebook page. It is damn clear that her constituents are loving the Affordable Care Act. Will she take their comments to heart and abandon attempts to take insurance coverage away from her constituents?
Edit: Paul Krugman has an excellent blog post on why the GOP hates the law and why the “victims” penalized by the law (and there are some) are unsuitable for its purposes. And he includes an interesting graph:
Ted Cruz was born in Canada, thus he cannot be president, if you accept the U.S. Constitution—and he says he does
I thought Sen. Cruz was a great fan of the Constitution, so that it’s odd that he’s not noticed that even if he’s elected, he cannot (Constitutionally) serve.
And the stories I’ve seen don’t mention this (extremely obvious) fact.
What’s up? Is the Constitution now to be ignored in all cases instead of just some?
UPDATE: I stand corrected.
UPDATE 2 and MORE IMPORTANT: Obama had a mother who was an American citizen, so why was hi qualifications to be President EVER in question? If Ted Cruz, born in Alberta, Canada, of an American mother, is qualified to be President, why would Obama, born wherever, not be qualified to be President?
Perhaps the GOP can answer that? But the GOP is not so good at answering questions—and certainly not the questions you ask. (The answer is: Racism.)
We’re finding out now: Paul Krugman talks about the GOP-controlled Congress (both houses) and the GOP budget proposal:
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.
But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks:one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.
You might be tempted to shrug this off, since these budgets will not, in fact, become law. Or you might say that this is what all politicians do. But it isn’t. The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum.
So, about those budgets: both claim drastic reductions in federal spending. Some of those spending reductions are specified: There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security. What form would these further cuts take? We get no hint.
Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint.
And there’s more: The budgets also claim large reductions in spending on other programs. How would these be achieved? You know the answer.
It’s very important to realize that this isn’t normal political behavior. The George W. Bush administration was no slouch when it came to deceptive presentation of tax plans, but it was never this blatant. And the Obama administration has been remarkably scrupulous in its fiscal pronouncements.
O.K., I can already hear the snickering, but it’s the simple truth. Remember all the ridicule heaped on the spending projections in the Affordable Care Act? Actual spending is coming in well below expectations, and the Congressional Budget Office has marked its forecast for the next decade down by 20 percent. Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year. The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.
So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why.
One answer you sometimes hear is . . .
A Florida Department of Environmental Protection employee was suspended for violating Gov. Rick Scott’s order that state employees never mention “climate change” or “global warming.” The employee was taking minutes in a public discussion and members of the public uttered the forbidden phrase, which he (naturally) included in the official minutes of the meeting (since minutes are supposed to summarize what was said). He was suspended for two days to be charged against his leave time and he received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.
State governments controlled by the GOP are increasingly acting out very bad totalitarian memes.
Here’s the story, with links to news reports.
One thing the Right really, truly hates are views opposed to their own, particularly views back by evidence and sound reasoning, which seems to strike them as somehow unfair. And now they’re in a position to do something about that. Jedediah Purdy writes in the New Yorker:
On January 16th, Tom Ross, the president of the University of North Carolina, and John Fennebresque, the chair of its board of governors, held a press conference to announce that the board had asked for and received Ross’s resignation. With Ross sitting beside him, Fennebresque insisted, in effect, that he had been fired for no reason. Ross had been successful in every way, he told reporters: “exemplary” in his handling of recent athletic scandals, and a model of “work ethic” and “perfect integrity.” “There was no precipitating event,” Fennebresque, who looked by turns mournful and defensive during the twenty-minute exchange, said. “He’s been wonderful.”
In response to a series of questions, Fennebresque insisted that the decision was not about politics, at least not “to the best of my knowledge.” Few observers believed that there was not some political motivation. Ross, a former judge, once headed the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a major funder of progressive causes in North Carolina. Since Republicans, many of them affiliated with the Tea Party movement, took over the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010, the board of governors has become a Republican redoubt. Ross, in an answer to one question, did allude to the elephant in the room, observing, “There’s been a dramatic change in the state’s leadership, in policymakers.”
For several years, there have been indications that the state’s new leaders want to change the mission of public higher education in North Carolina. In 2013, the Republican governor, Pat McCrory, told William Bennett, a conservative talk-show host and former Secretary of Education, that the state shouldn’t “subsidize” courses in gender studies or Swahili (that is, offer them at public universities). The following year, he laid out his agenda in a speech at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Using the language of business schools, he urged his audience to “reform and adapt the U.N.C. brand to the ever-changing competitive environment of the twenty-first century” and to “[hone] in on skills and subjects employers need.” McCrory also had a warning for faculty members whose subjects could be understood as political: “Our universities should not be used to indoctrinate our students to become liberals or conservatives, but should teach a diversity of opinions which will allow our future leaders to decide for themselves.”
On February 27th, the board, which had conducted a five-month-long review of all two hundred and forty centers and institutes at U.N.C., voted to eliminate three of them. Although the board has legal authority to govern U.N.C. as it sees fit, university policy and tradition had reserved this sort of decision for the schools. One of the closed centers was dedicated to the environment, another to voter engagement. The third, which many faculty members describe as the real target, was the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, run by Gene Nichol, a law professor and a vituperative critic of the Republican legislature. In one of a series of opinion pieces criticizing spending cuts, published in Raleigh’s News & Observer, he had referred to the legislature’s “unforgivable war on poor people.” Nichol has no doubt that the closing of the center was intended as punishment. On several occasions, “my dean was compelled to call me into his office and relate threats received from Republican leaders of the General Assembly if I didn’t stop writing articles for the News & Observer,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The center would be closed, or I’d be fired.”
Nichol, who has tenure, still holds his teaching position, and more than a hundred faculty members have signed a statement supporting him, but both the closing of his center and Ross’s dismissal have created an atmosphere of anxiety and caution. “People are telling me not to use their work e-mail, to call on their cell phone, if we’re going to talk about anything controversial,” Tamar Birckhead, an associate professor at the law school, told me. An untenured member of the humanities faculty, who requested anonymity, wrote in an e-mail, “I am constantly aware of the state’s charged political atmosphere and the scrutiny of the university’s political enemies. I know there are certain subjects I simply cannot write about in a public forum and topics I must handle gingerly in my teaching.” Other faculty members spoke of receiving phone calls from legislators and requests to review syllabi from conservative advocacy groups. Donald Raleigh, a history professor, said that one of those groups, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, requested the syllabus for his course “Gorbachev, the Collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Rise of the New Russia.” The syllabus was freely available online, but the Pope Center wrote to the university legal office to request it under the state’s open-records law. “I really don’t know why they wanted the syllabus for this fairly conventional course, nor do I know what they did with it,” Raleigh said.
Republican politics in North Carolina are characterized by a tight interweaving of elected officials with think tanks and advocacy groups. At the center of this network is . . .