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Monday, 06 August 2012 05:22

Five Adjectives That Scream "Don't Vote Republican!"

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PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There are more than five, of course, and voting Democrat may not be much of an improvement, but attaching these adjectives to the comically contemptible GOP seems more than appropriate.


Obstructionist

In 2010 Mitch McConnell said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." He didn't mention the economy, or education, or jobs, or the housing market. Instead, the goal is to beat Obama, whatever misery it might cause 200 million Americans.

For the past two years the Republicans have obstructed proposals that would have helped most Americans. They fought the middle-class tax cut because it would only apply to the first quarter-million of income. They killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public. They rejected a bill to disclose information about big campaign donors. They disrupted the routine process of increasing the debt ceiling, thus triggering the first-ever downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. Most recently they've obstructed efforts to provide mortgage debt relief to American homeowners.

Along the way they found time to obstruct other bills that conflicted with their 'austerity' mentality: a Pay Equity Bill that would have provided greater pay equality for women; a bill to limit student loan rates; a transportation bill that Senator Dick Durbin called one of the "easiest bills to do on Capitol Hill"; a demand for a $16 million cut in the FAA budget that led to a $25 million PER DAY shutdown.

Republicans in Congress, by relying on questionable filibuster rules and delay tactics, have built a "road to gridlock" in the halls of our government. They have been even less productive than the "do-nothing" Congress of Harry Truman. As observed by George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling, their recalcitrance "disables the government to the point where it can no longer carry out its moral mission -- the protection and empowerment of everyone equally."

And it all makes the Obama Administration look really bad.


Vindictive

Despite obstructing every proposal Obama has sent their way, Republicans have the temerity to pass the blame for Congressional failures onto the President and the Democrats. Most of the criticisms border on the absurd. They accuse him of "class warfare" for proposing to tax incomes over $1 million. They blame him for failing to avoid reductions in military spending. They accuse him of single-handedly losing the country's AAA credit rating.

The President has even been blamed for "strangling the economy" in Ohio when federal labor statistics show that the state's unemployment rate has declined since Obama took office. And, as U.S. corporations abandon job-seeking Americans, Obama is somehow tagged with the title of "outsourcer-in-chief."

The venom is directed not only at political opponents, but also at the public. Social security, a popular and well-run program, is constantly targeted for cuts. Medicare, just as popular, is also threatened, even though private insurance administrative costs are three times higher. The U.S. Post Office was directly assaulted by the 2006 Republican Congress with a ludicrous demand for 75 years of pre-funded retirement plans.

When Republicans run out of spite and accusations, they turn to ambiguities, which allow insults to be fashioned for no particular reason. Mitt Romney blasted Obama's policies for creating "more uncertainty." House Speaker John Boehner lamented the "economic uncertainty that is destroying jobs." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor referred to the "cloud of uncertainty" hanging over small and large employers."

Delusional

Republicans have persisted in their 30-year delusion that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy and the job market. It is simply not true. Research by Piketty and Saez and Stantcheva confirms that there is a direct relationship between reduced tax rates and higher incomes, and that there is no relationship between tax cuts and GDP growth. As for the claim by Orrin Hatch that a tax increase on top earners would hurt small business, a recent Treasury analysis found that only 2.5% of small businesses would face higher taxes from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

The image of wealthy job creators is also an illusion. Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, real estate, and personal business accounts. The Wall Street Journal admitted that the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to the "worst track record for jobs in recorded history."

The GOP "tax cut" plan would save tens of millions of dollars for billionaires. This when the richest 1% took 93 percent of all the new income in the first year after the recession, and when at least $20 trillion -- more than the U.S. GDP -- is stashed away tax-free in offshore tax havens by Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, most of them Americans.

As part of their delusion, Republicans have emphasized the need for austerity measures, including an end to the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the tax break on college tuition. Not a single Republican voted to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax relief to middle-class families.

All this when the child poverty rate in the U.S. has climbed to record levels, leaving us ahead of only Romania for last place among industrialized countries. And when we have 30 million long-term unemployed Americans, 50 million without health insurance, and 50 million on food stamps.

Evidence bursts the balloon filled with Republican hot air. In a survey of leading economists conducted by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, 92 percent agreed that the stimulus succeeded in reducing the jobless rate. Not a single economist believed that cutting taxes will lead to higher government revenue.

Instead, reputable studies have found that investing in health care or education will create jobs, and that increasing the minimum wage will stimulate consumer spending.

But the delusional Congressmen don't listen to the middle class anymore. A Princeton study concluded that "Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents...Disparities in representation are especially pronounced for Republican senators."

Hypocritical

Hypocrisy has run rampant among Republicans, starting with their rejection of economic stimulus programs like the one they supported just four years ago. They reversed themselves on the individual mandate, which enjoyed widespread Republican support until Obama endorsed it. They dismissed the payroll tax cut that cuts the taxes they so despise. As noted earlier, they balked at the raising of the debt ceiling, even though it had been raised by Republicans many times before. They demand budget cuts to reduce the deficit while refusing to touch the bloated military budget. They condemn public education while insisting that every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed. They support prison privatization programs that are, according to the Orlando Sentinel, "prime financiers of the Republican party."

Hypocrisy oozes from the pork that survives the Republicans' public demands for fiscal discipline. It flows from the criticism of unions for campaign spending, even though the Center for Responsive Politics estimates that only 2.7 percent of contributions came from labor unions and individuals representing labor organizations. And it reaches a shameful peak in the appeal for 'integrity' in elections through a Voter ID Act, which could eliminate the vote of millions of lower-income Americans.

Finally, the most common note of hypocrisy from Republicans: their call for lower tax rates coupled with a removal of loopholes. Can it work? A Johns Hopkins study suggests not, determining that Republican CEOs show a significantly higher level of tax avoidance than do companies run by CEOs with no clear political preference.

Inept

Our do-nothing Republicans are like children pouting until they get their candy. Congressional experts Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein say "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional."

On all counts of economic growth, progress is stifled by Republican ineptitude and inertia. Bloomberg reports that Democrats over the years have created more private-sector jobs, stimulated the markets to a greater degree, and presided over faster GDP growth.

Republicans are outrageously unpopular. A Gallup Poll registered a 10% approval rating, less than pornography, communism, and BP during the oil spill.

And unless, as suggested earlier, they're playing dumb as an obstructionist tactic, they're lacking in intelligence, as evidenced by their stand on climate change. Global warming is universally recognized as a problem caused by humans. Except by Republicans. With their passion for individual rights, conservatives deny any fact that implies a failure in the free-market system. If global warming turns out to be true, excuses are being lined up, like this one from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "Populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological and technological adaptations."

Cognitive dissonance strengthens erroneous beliefs in the presence of factual evidence. Thus the House of Representatives has voted over 100 times since 2011 to subsidize the oil and gas industry while weakening environmental, public health, and safety requirements. As summarized by Republican Senator James Inhofe, "God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

Adds Republican Representative David Schweikert: "You have the right as an American to be dumb."

A Word About the Democrats

"Impotent" comes to mind. The New York Times commented that "Many voters prefer the policies of Democrats to the policies of Republicans. They just don't trust the Democrats to carry out those promises."

But Americans, at the very least, deserve political representatives who won't stand in the way of national improvement simply for the purpose of making their opponent a one-term President.