I just saw Ann Wagner, U.S. representative for Missouri’s 2nd congressional district on TV. First, she correctly pointed out “We can get more revenue is by growing the economy.” This isn’t a rare thing for a Republican to say, but it is correct. If you grow the economy, then more people will pay in taxes, and less will be unemployed and/or using government spending programs. That’s simply what happens when an economy grows (the opposite is also what happens when an economy shrinks). What she said next, though, is where a lot of Republicans get things wrong. Sometimes they get it wrong because they simply do not understand economics, but I think most of them just hope you don’t understand economics either. She continued with, “and the only way to do that is by reining in our spending.” I wanted to slam my head into the table when she said it. It’s utterly idiotic, and completely counter productive.
As I pointed out in my last post, which mainly dealt with government jobs, when you cut spending you cut someone else’s income. When the government cuts, they’re cutting directly into the profits of the private sector. The right does a lot of talk about how we should not become Greece, or not become Europe, but whenever they trot out this little line like Ann did, they are effectively telling us that we should in fact become Greece or Europe. Our media is not doing a good enough job at all in pointing out this hypocrisy. You see, when the recession hit, Europe did precisely what the Republicans are calling for. They enacted spending cuts, while the US as of now largely did not. While we didn’t spend enough to get us out of the recession quickly, we haven’t fallen into the same trap that Europe has. In 2011 alone, “Greece’s austerity package amounted to 11.1 percent of GDP. Spain’s was 3.1 percent. Great Britain’s was 2 percent. Italy’s was 1.8 percent.”
So what happened in Europe? For one, the recession deepened. “The euro zone’s fourth-largest economy, [Spain] which is grappling with the collapse of a decadelong housing boom, fell into its second recession in three years toward the end of 2011.” Spanish unemployment is 26%, and reaches as high as 55% for those under 25 years old. Greece is also struggling with 26% unemployment. The Eurozone as a whole has a 11.8% unemployment rate as of November 2012. Things have become so bad, some in Europe are being forced to pick through the garbages in order to eat.
The IMF also “found that budget cutbacks are much more damaging to economies recovering from recession than has been previously believed. The reason is that with interest rates stuck near zero, there is no room to lower them when fiscal policy is tightened, and thus no way to offset the pain of budget cutbacks.” It also said that these sorts of spending cuts in depressed economies act to deflate confidence, and that’s precisely because they can quickly decelerate economic growth or even at times turn it into an economic decline.
This past Monday, a group of eight senators, four Democrat and four Republican, announced a legislative plan to address the eleven million illegal immigrants who currently reside within the United States. Not only is the makeup of those making the announcement bipartisan, but the ideas within the proposal are as well. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for those who are already within the United States while making significant increases to border security. The following day, President Obama essentially endorsed the Senate proposal. Achieving true immigration reform is something that is politically beneficial to both parties, as it’s an issue that Democrats have sought to address for some time and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the GOP’s disastrous support among Latinos is a recipe for defeat on a national level, something Senator John McCain admitted.
Senator McCain’s public admission of their dire electoral situation highlights the feeling among establishment Republicans who see the writing on the wall that says that unless they do something to address the 3-to-1 advantage Democrats have with Latinos, they are going to be in trouble in future elections. Despite this reality, the base and the non-elected, de-facto representatives of the Republican base are not so pleased with this idea.
The man who represents me in my state of Wisconsin is a terrible human being. You’ve probably heard his name more than a few times. I know I did before I moved here and had to accept the fact that he’s now my link to my state government. It seems every time Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman opens his mouth he promptly puts his foot in it. Usually he doesn’t stop with just the foot. Nope, he goes whole-hog and shoves the entire thing in until he’s left coughing, wheezing, and spouting nonsensical noises some people apparently seem to misinterpret as rational speech. I say some people, because I clearly can’t distinguish anything remotely close to rationality coming from him, but I suppose butt cheeks tend to muffle speech patterns when your face is sandwiched between them. Maybe some people have better hearing than I do. I don’t know. I do wonder how he breathes from up there, though.
Here he is the other day suggesting that Planned Parenthood is a racist organization that targets Asian Americans for sex selective abortions because… well, apparently they just hate minorities!
Sure Planned Parenthood operates in minority neighborhoods a lot of the time, but you don’t think that might have something to do with minorities being disproportionately poor? As their mission statement says, “Planned Parenthood believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.” Now, who do you think has a harder time managing their fertility? Who do you think needs more resources than the poor? Who do you think has a harder time driving distances in order to get these resources? That’s right, the poor. This has nothing to do with being racist and everything to do with locating yourself where you’re most needed.
And what does Planned Parenthood actually say specifically about sex selective abortions? They condemn it:
“Gender bias is contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country. Planned Parenthood opposes racism and sexism in all forms, and we work to advance equity and human rights in the delivery of health care. Planned Parenthood condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias, and urges leaders to challenge the underlying conditions that lead to these beliefs and practices, including addressing the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote gender bias and lead some to value one gender over the other.
This isn’t the first time Glenn Grothman has been completely and utterly wrong, as you can probably tell from my contempt up in the first paragraph. No, I reserve that level of contempt for people like Glenn who consistently prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they don’t have the brain cells it should take to converse and sympathize with their fellow human beings. Let’s look at what else Glenn has proudly proclaimed from inside his backside.
Less than a month after being re-elected to the House of Representatives for the seventh time in West Virginia’s second congressional district, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced that she plans to run for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D). Senator Rockefeller was first elected to the United States Senate in 1984 and has been re-elected with relative ease since then.
West Virginia spent much of the twentieth century being a stronghold for Democrats. In the seventeen Presidential elections from 1932 to 1996, West Virginia only voted for the Republican candidate three times. The last time a Republican was elected to the United States Senate for a full term in the state was when they elected W. Chapman Revercomb in 1942. Of the six elected positions in the executive branch, five of them are Democrats. Senator Joe Manchin was also recently elected to a full term with more than 60% of the vote.
But things have changed in West Virginia over time.
On Tuesday, Chris Matthews had on his program Marjorie Dannenfelser, of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony Foundation. During the interview, there was one portion that really stuck out to me (Can’t Embed the Video at the moment, sadly),
So Matthews spends the last few minutes of the show to try and get an answer from Dannenfelser on what law she would like to have in place regarding abortion. Matthews asks her roughly thirteen times, and Dannenfelser either ignores, deflects, or offers nonsensical, meaningless answers (she kept yammering on about achieving “common ground”, whatever that means).
This exchange reminded me of a line from the always brilliant LOLGOP, roughly paraphrased as: The secret to Republicans winning elections is to pray that the voters have no idea they’re actually voting for Republicans.
(Sadly, I can’t find the actual quote, as it was said it a much more elegant fashion than my somewhat mangled recollection.)
The point being is that Republican ideas are generally horrific when actually clarified and elaborated. This is why they’re always vague, and rarely offer any specific policy proposals (ex. “Cut spending! But we won’t tell you where we want to cut!”). Matthews repeatedly asked Dannenfelser what the punishment should be for someone who commits an abortion, offering suggestions like prison sentences, which Dannenfelser insisted she didn’t support.
Look, I realize abortion is a very serious topic. While I personally am pro-choice, I can totally respect a pro-life person’s opinion that they feel there’s no difference between a fetus and a baby. However, we have to also realize that by accepting that line of thought, it leads to some very uncomfortable, and very dangerous roads. Things like, as Matthews said, imprisoning women who have an abortion, or forcing raped women and girls to have their rapists’ child.
Also, I know most of my fellow lefties aren’t big fans of Chris Matthews, but I always love it when he has moments like this.
This week, Mitch McConnell declared the “era of liberalism is back” in response to President Obama’s Inaugural Speech on Monday. Conservatives in the media and online have gone ballistic over the speech; one that they claim is overly partisan and mixed with a highly liberal agenda. But is this actually true?
Well, Obama’s speech didn’t talk much about the fiscal issues of the day and really seemed to focus on a much more social agenda. These issues seemed to be focused on the rights of gays, climate change, immigration, and even a small nod to guns control. And you know what? Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are right to say that this was a very liberal speech.
When you’re dealing with a master of sleight of hand, even the simplest activity may be a complex deception. To understand the complexity of a magician’s life, according to Penn in this video, you need to know the seven basic principles of magic.
Palm – To hold an object with an apparently empty hand
Ditch – To secretly dispose of an unneeded object
Steal – To secretly obtain a needed object
Loan – Secretly move the needed object to where its needed
Simulation – To give the impression that something that hasn’t happened has
Misdirection – Lead attention away from the secret move
Switch – Secretly exchange one object for another
Those are the seven principles of magic, and with them you can do wondrous things. Now, what if I told you they could not only be applied to magic, but also to negotiating? When the new year rolled around, quite like magic, we witnessed a party begrudgingly going along with something they clearly didn’t want to. They enacted what was, while technically speaking a tax cut, in essence a tax raise in their minds with almost nothing in return for it. This was the same party refusing beforehand to vote on “what we all agree on,” as Obama put it. This was the party of no.
So, how did Obama perform this trickery? Like a well-trained magician, he had to know his audience. The audience in this act was threefold. One piece of this audience, the Republicans would always look to attack him on nearly anything and everything. Again, they’re the party of no. So, going into this he knew it would be no. No compromise. Nothing. Like the magician that must be keenly aware of what and where his audience will be watching and questioning, Obama had to know this. He had to finally understand this. Another of his audiences, the media, would always try and see things from the middle, and they’re obsessed with very serious people, as Paul Krugman puts them, and as such a push for a grand bargain that has tax raises and spending cuts would be just the sort of thing they could get their panties wet for. And last, he had to know us. That is, he had to know both the liberal and the republican base.
Next, quite like Teller, he used a bit of sleight of hand. Like the magician about to saw a lady in half, he stood atop the stage during his campaigning and proclaimed, “I will raise taxes on those making above $250,000 per year.” And, despite how popular this plan was, we all didn’t really know how it could be done with the Republicans likely still having control of the house. Their pledges to Grover Norquist make this feat about as hard as making an elephant disappear before your very eyes.
I don’t generally pay attention to professional golf (or unprofessional golf either), but this story caught my eye. Seems some guy named Phil Mickenson, is a little bit unhappy at all the new taxes he might have to pay thanks to Obama and California:
“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and it doesn’t work for me right now,” Mickelson said.
While Mickelson didn’t state specifics, increases in federal taxes under the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff in Washington D.C. and the passage of Prop. 30 in California in November to raise money for school funding have all increased taxes on the wealthy class.
“If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate’s 62, 63 percent. So I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”
So what might those possible decisions be?
The 42-year-old golfer said he would talk in more detail about his plans – possibly moving away from California or even retiring from golf – before his hometown Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego-area event that starts Thursday at Torrey Pines.
Whoa. Sounds kind of drastic to quit your career entirely, but I guess if the government is confiscating that much of your hard earned money, then there’s probably really little incentive to continue, right?
While many political nerds will spend the day glued to their televisions watching the day’s proceedings unfold, many are wondering just what will be the defining issues of this second term. Historians are quick to note that second term Presidents are known to attempt for an overreach in power and many also face scandals of various sorts. Eisenhower saw his party get beaten pretty badly during his second term. Clinton saw an impeachment scandal. George W. Bush botched a disaster response and presided over the greatest economic calamity in nearly a century. Though despite this, Albert R. Hunt of the New York Times writes that President Obama is very much aware of these events and the other types of issues that second-termers face. To me, this is just another piece of evidence that President Obama wants to be remembered as more than the first African American President; he wants the first African American Presidency to be a good one in the history books.
The question that many observers are asking is; what can we expect from a second Obama Administration?
There are lots of problems for the Republican Party on a national level these days. They just got crushed in an election in which the incumbent President presided over a weak economic recovery, high unemployment, and massive government deficits. The only thing that saved the party from irrelevancy were heavily gerrymandered districts preserving a majority in the House. Congressional ratings are around 15% approval and 80% disapproval while the President is over 50% in approval.
So, what do we make of this and why haven’t the Congressional GOP changed course to rectify the problem? For one, it’s partially a problem of the party’s ideas. The median voter has simply drifted from the current GOP platform whether it’s regards to taxes, immigration, gay rights, or rape (seriously, stop mentioning rape). Nearly 6 of 10 voters view the GOP as protecting the interests of the wealthy. At some point the Republicans are going to have to re-evaluate their positions and alter them more towards the center of American politics and then re-brand themselves in a more appealing way.