Thursday, September 29, 2011

Polls: GOP Favors Fat-Cat Rich, Perry Stumbles, Romney Stagnates

Much like a Russian opera, the GOP presidential pageant thus far has been a cycle of Republican stalwarts gushing enthusiasm for some new savior, then quickly souring on said savior. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) , Mitch Daniels, and Jon Huntsman have all gone from rising to fading star at some point or another.

Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the conga line of enchantment-dashers.

All through the voter volatility, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remained the GOP's unsatisfactory default setting.

Warming up in the bullpen, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had become the most recent heart-throb du jour, even though Perry hadn't had a chance to unpin his corsage and take off his prom dress.

But, the most interesting polling information of late came from the Washington Post/Pew Research Center Poll taken Sept. 22-25, confirming yet again that everyone in fact did see the glaringly obvious.

A plurality of Americans believed Republicans were doing more to help the haves rather than the have-nots. Of all respondents, 47% believed the GOP favored the haves, 7% believed the GOP favored the have-nots, and 32% believed Republicans treated both about the same.

Broken down by party affiliation, 72% of Democrats and 46% of Independents figured Republicans were for the rich, while just 20% of Republicans viewed themselves that way. 60% of Republicans felt they were the fairest of all, treating everyone equally.

Meanwhile, folks were telling The Economist/YouGov Poll Sept. 24-27 that the Obama Administration cared about the poor and middle classes, while Republicans cared more for the rich.

53% of respondents felt the Obama Administration was either Very or Somewhat Concerned about issues that affected poor people, while 32% felt the Obama Administration was either Not Very or Not At All Concerned about issues that affected the poor.

People believed Republicans were the Obama Administration's polar opposite, with 33% saying the GOP was either Very of Somewhat Concerned for the poor, while 52% said Republicans were either Not Very or Not At All Concerned for the poor.

Regarding the middle class, 48% thought the Obama Administration was Very/Somewhat Concerned, and 37% Not Very/Not At All Concerned. Again, the GOP was seen as it's antithesis, with 39% believing Republicans Very/Somewhat Concerned for the middle class, and 47% believing Republicans Not Very/Not At All Concerned for the middle class.

When it came to coddling the rich, 46% thought the Obama Administration was Very/Somewhat Concerned about offending upper-class sensitivities, and 36% thought the Obama Administration was Not Very/Not At All Concerned about the rich.

However, a whopping 73% felt Republicans were Very or Somewhat Concerned about the rich, with a majority, 52%, saying Very Concerned for the rich. Only 6% said Republicans were Not At All Concerned for the rich.

52% of the same respondents told The Economist/YouGov they favored raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more a year, and 68% said they favored raising taxes on those making $1 million or more a year, in line with numerous previous polls asking similar questions.

Among those who didn't favor raising taxes on those making gazillions of dollars a year, three new polls revealed the Russian opera angst with their choices to carry the elephant banner against President Barack Obama next fall.

In a situation somehow evocative of the old saw about the two diners at the restaurant where the first one said, "This food isn't very good," to which the second replied "Yes, and the portions are so small," Fox News found that while 50% of respondents felt Obama would lose his re-election bid versus 40% who figured he'd win, only 38% were either Very Impressed or Somewhat Impressed with the current Republican candidates, while 58% were either Not Very or Not At All Impressed with the GOP hopefuls.

Fox News found that the sheen had come off Perry. Awkward performances at recent GOP presidential debates having taken that nice fresh-off-the-showroom new-candidate smell off Perry, and he was the choice of just 19% of Republicans Fox News polled.

Good ol' reliable Mitt Romney plugged along as the choice of 23% of those queried by Fox News. But, Romney had polled at 26% in the same poll in July and August. While Perry had tanked a bit, Romney hadn't prospered. Along with former pizza mogul Herman Cain's recent victory at the Florida Straw Poll, one had to wonder exactly what sort of front-runner Romney was supposed to be.

Cain himself seemed to have gained where Perry had lost, climbing to 17%, with Newt Gingrich (11%), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (6%), Jon Huntsman (4%), Bachmann (3%) and Rick Santorum (3%) rounding out the field.

The Economist/YouGov poll gave angst-ridden Republicans more choices, and the field flattened even further. Romney still led, but with only 15%, tied with Christie, followed by Perry (14%), Cain (11%), Palin (8%), Gingrich, Paul and Rudy Guiliani (6%), Bachmann (4%) and Santorum and Huntsman (2%).

CNN/ORC found folks kinder to Perry, holding a narrow lead at 28%, followed by Romney at 21%, Gingrich at 10%, Cain, Palin and Paul tied at 7%, Bachmann at 4%, Santorum at 3% and Huntsman at 1%

For the championship round, CNN/ORC now showed Obama leading all comers, outpacing Romney 49%-48%, Perry 51%-46%, Paul 51%-47%, Bachmann 54%-42%, and Palin 58%-37%.

Everyone kept saying it was still very, very early, which it was, but most people who say that were usually discounting their favorite team being eight games behind at the All Star Break. And, most of those teams never won the World Series. Unless they were the Yankees.

Er, sorry about that, Mitt.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GOP Pushes RyanCare For All

With the United States Supreme Court, led by five Republican-appointed conservative activists, posed to dismantle President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform law, the GOP has tapped Tea Party stalwart Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to move forward with a new plan to expand his disgraced Medicare couponization scheme to include all Americans.

"While Republicans have advanced many good ideas on health care," Ryan told the conservative Hoover Institute think tank at Stanford University Tuesday, "it is my candid opinion that the party as a whole has yet to coalesce around a complete reform agenda aimed at dealing with the underlying problem - which is runaway inflation in the cost of health care."

Of course, the "many good ideas" all boiled down to more tax breaks for the wealthy, while cutting everyone else off at the knees.

The Politico reported Ryan and the GOP now want to expand their couponization scam to all Americans:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says it's time for Republicans to rally around a comprehensive "replacement" to President Barack Obama's signature health care reform legislation - with the government giving a limited contribution to help Americans get health coverage.

That's the model Ryan wants to apply through Medicare, Medicaid and employer-sponsored health insurance. It's the approach he used earlier this year for Medicare and Medicaid in the House-passed budget, but he now wants to expand it to workplace health insurance by giving people a refundable tax credit to help them buy coverage.
In other words, the GOP aimed not only to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, but also to alleviate employers of the bothersome bottom line-squeezing practice of offering health care benefits. Then, they'd give everyone a tax credit toward buying private health insurance. In other words, if someone's rich enough to afford a private, individual insurance plan, he'd be rewarded with a nice tax subsidy.

If he's not rich enough to afford a private, individual insurance plan, well, Ryan was a full-fledged Ayn Randian Tea Party zealot, and the Tea Party zealots in the audience at the recent CNN/Tea Party presidential shindig were the ones cheering and hooting for society to "just let him die."

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Obama health reform law's mandate to purchase insurance unconstitutional, and the Administration Monday chose not to ask the 11th Circuit to re-hear the case, indicating they were going to take their chances with the Supreme Court.

With a five-justice right-wing majority, the odds that the Supreme Court wouldn't crush Obama's law were somewhere between "none" and the proverbial snowball's chance.

"We know that the first step toward real, bipartisan advances in health policy must start with a full repeal of the president's partisan law," Ryan pontificated. "But the case for repeal must be matched with an even greater intensity by a case for replace..."

In the GOP's 2012 budget proposal, Ryan and Republicans schemed to dismantle Medicare, hand all its money to insurance industry cronies, and pawn off future seniors with worthless coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revealed wouldn't cover a third of seniors' health care costs.

Enraged constituents descended on GOP town hall meetings en masse last spring, demanding Republicans withdraw their Medicare couponization scheme. Ryan himself was besieged and required a police escort to escape a town hall with his skin, but smugly asserted voters had been "overwhelmingly supportive."

Far from contrition, Ryan now aimed to force everyone to buy private health insurance with limited "premium support."

While Medicare was the most efficient deliverer of health care, with administrative costs of just 3%, private, individual health plans were the least efficient, with administrative costs gobbling up 40% of premiums. While Medicare's overhead was limited to the cost of the government employees running it, private insurance overhead was an unlimited frontier of multi-million dollar executive compensation packages.

Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly pulled down $13 million in 2009 all by her lonesome. And, that didn't include any fully-loaded corporate jets Wellpoint might have kept warmed up on the tarmac for her. Talk about "administrative costs."

As with any other GOP plan, Ryan's health care plan was just another tax break for the rich, who get a discount off the private plan they were going to buy anyway. In a GOP version of a win-win, Ryan's health care plan was also a giveaway to the insurance industry, which gets all the money that would have gone to Medicare, Medicaid, and employee compensation without having to actually cover anyone for that amount.

As with any GOP version of a win-win, ordinary Americans lost-lost. Most ordinary Americans wouldn't be able to afford the lion's share of monthly premium costs their Ryancare coupons didn't cover. And Americans who didn't have enough income to get tax credits credited, or didn't have jobs at all, a not unlikely circumstance in the current environment, were, well...

Cue the cheering crowd at any GOP presidential debate.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama Hopes Extremist Republicans Not Reflective of America

Addressing supporters at a California fund-raising event Sunday, President Barack Obama hoped Republicans who cheered for the deaths of uninsured Americans and denied climate change science weren't representative of America.

"I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately?" Obama asked the San Jose, CA crowd. "You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care. And booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay."

"You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change," Obama said. The President offered, "That's not reflective of who we are."

It was, however, exactly who Republicans were.

The Republican breed, drunk with hostage-taking victories, have boldly revealed their true natures. At the recent CNN/Tea Party presidential grandstanding show, the audience cheered when moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) whether society should abandon the uninsured and "just let them die."

Flexing their gay-bashing muscles, the audience booed gay service members in Iraq.

"Sadly, the audiences seem representative of what the Republican Party has devolved into," West Virginia State Delegate Nancy Guthrie (D) said of the GOP debate audiences, "and it reflects a very low point in our democracy."

"The audiences don't just appear this way, they are more and more becoming this way," North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern (D) told the Politico.

Iowa State Rep. Josh Byrnes (R) said of the debate crowds,"These are overblown and not representative of mainstream Republicans." He was probably right, as the debate audiences were likely made up of the most civil, well-behaved Republicans. They weren't even carrying firearms.

In the Republican Party, extremism was the new mainstream. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) remained unapologetic about his disgraced scheme to dismantle Medicare, hand all its money to insurance industry cronies, and pawn off future seniors with worthless discount coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found wouldn't cover a third of seniors' health care costs.

"So here's the problem: if you don't address these issues now, they're going to steamroll us as a country," Ryan pontificated on CNN. "And the issue the more you delay fixing these problems, the uglier the solutions are going to be."

Which, of course, was why it was imperative that the nation stop coddling its millionaires and billionaires and start taxing them. Poll after poll revealed nearly seven in ten Americans agreed this was the case, but the other three were Republicans who'd hijacked the government, taken the American people hostage, and regularly ranted about Jesus.

Republicans have rejected making the rich pay taxes, and have obstructed every effort to reform revenue. Instead, they increasingly threatened the nation with increasingly ugly "solutions." Clearly, at some point, they'll eventually get to a Final one.

Typical Republicans not only cheered the prospect of locking the sick and injured out of hospitals if they weren't wealthy enough to pay, they routinely roamed southwestern deserts in pickup trucks hoping to shoot Hispanics, and regularly spouted Bible verses while denying climate change and evolution under the guise of religious freedom.

"I'm shocked that the political debate in the U.S. is so far away from the scientific facts," European Union climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the Copenhagen Post. "And, when you hear American presidential candidates denying climate change, it's difficult to take."

GOP Presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry regularly slammed climate change science while shilling for the oil companies, and rival Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) believed sustainability was a United Nations plot to destroy America by forcing white people to take public transit and live among blacks in inner cities.

These were the Republicans winning the laurel wreaths and bathing in the cheers of adoring sycophants. These were the Republican valedictorians.

Rank and file Republicans were toting firearms and feverishly reciting Bible verses after generations of being home-schooled on hate and twisted misconceptions about Christ. Rank and file Republicans were routinely sending their own kids to Christian torture camps to be beaten into accepting right-wing orthodoxy.

Republicans have resurrected the medieval social order of an omnipotent ruling class wielding an impoverished and propaganda-indoctrinated peasantry to plunder at will. Republicans have resurrected the medieval social order of divinely-anointed warlords reigning over bloodthirsty mobs eager to murder and pillage everyone around them.

There was no hope a Republican breed that tortured their own children for the sake of ideological orthodoxy could be made to accept that torturing foreigners and persons of color was wrong. There was no hope a Republican breed that dismissed science as heresy would ever accept climate change, evolution, or the common ancestry of all humans.

The Republican breed rejected evolution to preserve a supernatural basis for white supremacy. The Republican ruling class manipulated that rejection into a rejection of all science to bolster a climate-destroying fossil fuel industry. The Republican breed rejected civil rights as an assault on white supremacy. The Republican ruling class exploited that hate in a campaign against governance so the wealthy could evade taxes.

Obama hoped they were not reflective of the majority of Americans. After all, there was no hope they would change.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

GOP Takes Disaster Victims Hostage, Demand Job-Slashing Ransom

Scuttling off into the night, House Republicans fled the Washington, D.C. scene late Thursday night after grabbing the nation's disaster victims hostage and issuing a ransom demand of $1.6 billion. Republican kidnappers had earlier in the week fallen out over how much ransom to demand, as some in the gang figured their original demand for $1.5 billion from a successful auto industry job-creation program wasn't enough. In the end, Republicans upped their ransom demand to $1.6 billion, adding $100 million from another Energy Department program that guaranteed clean energy loans.

In a bipartisan 59-36 vote Friday, the Senate quickly rejected the House GOP's demand for $1.6 billion from those programs in exchange for $3.65 billion in disaster relief. Even conservative stalwarts at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers were appalled at the GOP perfidy, warning that cutting those programs would eliminate thousands of jobs.

Republicans attached the disaster relief to the continuing resolution that funded the government beyond Sept. 30, yet again threatening yet another shutdown if they didn't get their way.

"While we moved a responsible bill, it's time for the Senate to move the House-passed bill," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters Friday after his minions had fled town for a week-long recess, making negotiating the ransom demand impossible. "It is really the most responsible thing to do, and any delay that occurs because of inaction by the Senate will only imperil the needed disaster relief for thousands of families all across the country."

"There has never been an offset for disaster assistance," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reminded everyone.

"We are now watching the Tea Party shutdown movie for the third time this year," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday. Unless Congress could agree to a temporary resolution to keep funding the government, it could be forced to shut down in October.

"Listen, there's no threat of a government shutdown," Boehner had said Thursday. "As long as our demands are met,"  no one heard him mutter under his breath.

Republicans demanded that Americans choose between funding tornado, earthquake, hurricane and flood relief and funding relief from the economic disaster Republicans fomented with their fiscal policies.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted Americans to give up rebuilding their economy so his wealthy cronies in Virginia's 7th Congressional District could get pricey makeovers for their McMansions. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) wanted Americans to abandon a program that moved production of the Ford Focus from Mexico to Michigan and the Nissan Leaf from Japan to Tennessee so her state could get money to rebuild houses destroyed by a flooding on a floodplain.

"Disaster assistance is absolutely critical for my district," whined Emerson, who apparently didn't give a fig about the unemployment disaster she was exacerbating by gutting the job-creation program.

Cantor and Emerson hated that the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program they wanted to gut had already created 40,000 jobs, reviving an entire industry that didn't just build cars, but all the parts that went into them. Cantor and Emerson and Republicans hated that the auto industry provided ordinary Americans with good-paying jobs that actually let them buy the things they made.

"Again, while the Chamber understands the importance of reducing America's unacceptable debt and believes that all programs must be on the table," said Bruce Josten for the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "the Chamber urges you to bear in mind the facts about the ATVM loan program, which promotes manufacturing in the U.S...."

Cantor and Emerson didn't want the American economy to be revived while Barack Obama was president. Cantor and Emerson and all their GOP ilk not only didn't want to revive an auto industry that had showed the world how to build cars, they didn't want to revive a nation that had given the world the car culture, with LA freeways and hot rods and low riders and muscle cars and beach music and drive-ins and fuzzy dice and tuck-and-roll and Candy Apple Red and Suzanne Somers in a white T-bird.

Cantor and Emerson figured America should just give all that up and subcontract it out to Korea.

Cantor and the people of Virginia's 7th Congressional District believed they were entitled to millions in disaster relief, but that people elsewhere weren't entitled to relief from the GOP economic disaster. Emerson and the people of Missouri's 8th Congressional District figured they were entitled to rebuild over and over on a floodplain, but people elsewhere weren't entitled to rebuild the nation's economy.

Given that the Commonwealth of Virginia already received $1.51 in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes it raised, perhaps America should just get on with remaking its auto industry and tell Virginians they'd already gotten as much as they were going to get. Given that the great state of Missouri already received $1.32 in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes it raised, perhaps America just should get on with revitalizing its car culture and tell Missourians to go jump in their floodplain.

Cantor and Emerson and the Republican breed figured Americans should just hand all their money to the GOP and die of cervical cancer, as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wanted by withholding HPV vaccine, or die of any disease, injury, or illness, as the cheering, hooting audience at the CNN/Tea Party presidential debate Sept 12 wanted by witholding medicare care from the uninsured and insurable, or simply be consigned since childhood to the GOP-shielded torture camps secreted in Emerson's Missouri backwoods.

Or, Americans could just ditch the GOP, and drive off in that white T-bird.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

GOP Kidnap Disaster Victims In Third Hostage Take-Over

Failed Hostage Vote Leaves GOP Leaders Red-Faced

Needing to pay for disasters that wrecked the East Coast last month and to fund government operations past Sept. 30, House Republicans once again proved they were incapable of counting votes, drafting responsible legislation, or even passing their own bills. Taking the nation hostage yet again, this time Republicans couldn't even agree what their ransom demands were.

A Republican race so vile that presidential aspirant Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) casually condemned a yet unknown number of women to die from cervical cancer so she could score points with the Luddite anti-vaccine crowd; so reprehensible that hundreds of Tea Party zealots at last week's nationally-televised GOP presidential debate cheered for abandoning the uninsured to misery and death; so unspeakably evil that thousands of rabid GOP evangelical supremacists routinely consigned their own children to brutal torture camps secreted across the South and Mountain West, will try again Thursday to fulfill House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's vision of axing $1.5 billion from an auto industry jobs program so his wealthy cronies can get lavish makeovers for their Virginia McMansions.

Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) were red-faced when their first stab at taking disaster relief hostage so they could gut more American jobs failed to muster the required yeas to permit another GOP football-spiking, booty-shaking, finger-shooting end zone dance. They'd schemed to tack the disaster relief onto the continuing resolution needed to keep the government funded after Sept. 30, with the $1.5 billion theft of job-creation funds lurking inside it like the chest-bursting monster from the Alien movies.

Republicans wanted to restrict disaster relief for recent hurricane, flood, and earthquake damage to a paltry $3.65 billion, short of what was needed to address the multiple catastrophes that plagued the East Coast, but apparently sufficient to gussy up the overpriced tract houses Cantor's well-heeled supporters lurked in throughout Virginia's 7th Congressional District.

Knowing his pals couldn't enjoy their new Carrera marble counters and new Mpingo-wood decks unless they knew that getting them had caused children to go hungry and mothers to cry in anguish, Cantor aimed to raid $1.5 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which had already created 40,000 jobs. Plundering nearly half the remaining money set aside for that Bush-era job-creation project would certainly add to the economic misery endemic across the nation and add to his pals' enjoyment of their new McMansion makeovers, Cantor reasoned. Furthermore, it would prevent building more energy-efficient cars in America, earning a tip of the cap from oil moguls everywhere.

Unfortunately for evil-doers everywhere, the GOP scheme failed to pass muster Wednesday. Demonstrating yet again the GOP leadership had been ditching class and swilling beer down by the levee during third-grade arithmetic, their bill went down to ignominious defeat in the House of Representatives, 230-195. 48 Republicans joined all but six Democrats in opposing the scheme.

"We are now watching the Tea Party shutdown movie for the third time this year," complained Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). He told MSNBC's Morning Joe, "They can't get together the basic Republican votes on the House side to even pass the continuing resolution they agreed to just a few weeks ago, let alone some disaster aid for a country that's been hard-hit by a lot of disasters."

Many Republicans voted against the measure because it hadn't included more spending cuts to offset the disaster relief. More cuts would likely violate spending agreements forged in the debt-ceiling deal, but if Republicans couldn't speak with forked tongues, they'd never get to speak at all.

The greater problem was that some Republicans actually realised the disaster funding was inadequate, and figured it shouldn't be offset with cuts elsewhere.

However, many contrite Republicans promised their leadership they would vote for the bill given a mulligan.

"So far, not enough has switched," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told the Hill. "A number of them did stand up and say they would vote yes, so that's what the Speaker has to decide over the next few hours: Are there enough to go with the offset we had yesterday, or if not, then we'll have to go with no offsets."

Over in the Senate side, Harry Reid (D-NV) had won passage of a disaster relief measure with bipartisan support, 62-37. Ten Republicans joined Democrats to pass a much more realistic $6.9 billion disaster relief package without requiring cuts to other programs.

Any crazy House GOP scheme that shorted disaster spending and gutted vital job-creation programs to pay for Virginia McMansion expansions was doomed in the Senate.

"We don't know what they're going to do over there today," said Reid.

Clearly, Republicans didn't know what they were doing either. They, along with everyone else, just knew it was going to be evil.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poll Finds Obama Deficit Reduction, Jobs Plans Popular

The deficit reduction and jobs plans President Barack Obama recently proposed, dead long before arrival among Republicans focused on obstructing anything except more tax cuts for their rich cronies, at least appeared popular with ordinary Americans.

One of the most popular items among proposals that sought to trim $3 trillion off the federal deficit while kick-starting the economy was the so-called Buffett Rule, which aimed to guarantee millionaires and billionaires paid taxes at least at the same rate as everyone else.

A new Gallup poll released Tuesday found that 66% of respondents favored the President's plan to raise taxes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year, in line with nearly two dozen previous polls that found most Americans wanted the rich to pay their fair share to reduce the nation's debts or shore up entitlements. Another 32% of respondents turned out to be Republicans.

Even more popular was Obama's proposal to increase taxes on corporations by closing loopholes. 70% favored that idea, while 26% were opposed. A chunk of Republicans apparently didn't understand the question, probably because they couldn't imagine anyone asking whether corporate loopholes should be closed. It was GOP intransigence on adjusting the depreciation rate for corporate jets - not eliminating the deduction for corporate jets, as any sane person would demand, but just making it take longer to write them off - that scuttled deficit reduction talks during the debt ceiling hostage crisis.

Those polled favored five of six other Obama proposals:
  • Tax cuts for small businesses, including hiring incentives, was favored 85% to 13%.
  • Providing additional funds to hire teachers, cops and firefighters was favored 75% to 25%.
  • Tax breaks for hiring those unemployed longer than six months was favored 73% to 26%.
  • Additional funding for public works projects, including fixing up 30,000 schools, was favored 72% to 27%.
  • Extending unemployment insurance benefits was favored 56% to 41%.
Only reducing Social Security taxes for both workers and employers was narrowly opposed, 49% to 47%.

Even Republicans among the respondents favored five of the eight proposals, rejecting only the tax hikes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year; the extension of unemployment benefits; and reducing Social Security taxes.

65% of those polled figured Obama's jobs plan would help create more jobs at least a little, including 27% who believed it would help a lot. 60% felt Obama's jobs plan would help the economy at least a little, including 23% who felt it would help a lot.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was exasperated. "Unfortunately, what we've seen now is the president has made a decision that he's going to go into full campaign mode now, 14 months before the election," he sputtered Wednesday as a reporter for the Hill scribbled down his whining.

God forbid the President of the United States advocate the wishes of the American people.

The Politico reported the so-called moderate intelligentsia was up in arms as well, claiming Obama had abandoned his centrist position and caved in to the left. First off, 'moderate intelligensia' was an oxymoron, and secondly, Obama hadn't come anywhere near, let alone caved in to, the left.

In fact, in a right-of-center nation, Obama was clearly espousing a right-of-center position, thus nailing the two-thirds nodding thoughtfully. The so-called moderate intelligentsia and their self-styled centrism appeared actually to be somewhere to the right of Louis XVI, who himself was to the right of Louis XIV. To be precise, the so-called moderate intelligentsia appeared more like the fawning courtiers brown-nosing and toadying up to Louis XVI. Their concept of centrism appeared to consist of protesting symbolically before caving in to whoever had 85% of all the wealth, then letting them add another hundred rooms and six hundred fountains to their Versailles.'

Republicans, meanwhile, appeared politically somewhere between Genghis and Kublai Khan.

While Obama's proposals fell far short of doing all the right things in all the right ways, he at least took a couple baby steps in the right direction. Although Obama failed to raise taxes on the rich enough to pay off everything that needed paying off, and failed to cut the unconscionably high taxes on the poor and middle classes (see sidebar), he at least acknowledged the rich ought to pay at least a little more. Although Obama failed to put forth plans to fix the $2 trillion in infrastructure needing repairs, or even to plug the $1 trillion hole in the nation's economy, he at least tried to get some potholes filled and get a few classrooms brought up to code. Although Obama failed to call for the kind of revenue recirculation and spending the nation really needed to haul it out of the doldrums, he at least proposed a few measures incenting business to hire a few more unemployed.

You can't get much more right-of-center than that.

The Christian Science Monitor's calculator-and-spreadsheet gang figured out that Obama's plan didn't reduce the deficit by as much as the President claimed, as the $1.6 trillion in additional revenue the Buffett Rule and other tax hikes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year was actually being counted after renewing all the Bush tax cuts as well as Alternative Minimum Tax relief, which were both deficit-financed.

Doing nothing and just letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012 would have reduced the deficit more.

However, the CSM figured it was a darned sight better than anything Republicans wanted, which was more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for the very, very rich paid for by exterminating all Americans through dismantling health care (axing Medicare, Medicaid, and, eventually, employer-provided insurance, because, why the heck should they bother?), eliminating old age pensions (raiding Social Security and anything a union or employer might provide, because why shouldn't the rich plunder anything they could plunder?), and reducing the nation to a toxic wasteland (nixing the EPA and abolishing cumbersome "job-destroying" regulations).

Republicans still weren't going to pass anything the President proposed anyway, unless the President was ready to be "serious" by Republican standards, which meant lavishing more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies on the very, very rich, allowing them to plunder Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and requiring everyone to burn as much fossil fuel as inefficiently as possible.

Thus, so long as Republicans weren't going to allow the President do anything anyway, Obama might as well go into full campaign mode. As the real right-of-center candidate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teen Torture Camps Reveal Depth of GOP, Right-Wing Depravity

In 2032, a woman will lay dying of cervical cancer because her parents, devout Republicans inspired by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), forbade her from receiving the human papillomavirus vaccine.

That the woman, considering Republican ascendancy in America, probably won't have health insurance, was conjecture. That the woman, considering Republican ascendancy in America, probably won't have access to any sort of health care at all, was also conjecture.

That she will die because Michele Bachmann was an shameless self-promoter who so lusted for limelight and cheering crowds that she unconscionably, mindlessly pandered to the reprehensible aspirations of a Luddite anti-vaccine crowd was both an immutable fact and an unimpeachable damnation.

Michele Bachmann was not the only sociopath spewing devastation without the least consideration for the carnage she wrought. She was just one sociopath in a tidal surge of sociopaths called the Republican Party.

The Republicans were an army, a horde, a pestilential swarm of sociopaths. Before a national television audience, Republicans cheered for the extermination of Americans who couldn't buy retail health insurance. During last week's CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential debates, even Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) hesitated to condemn the uninsured to misery and death outside the locked doors of a hospital emergency room , but when moderator Wolf Blitzer asked what should happen to someone who couldn't pay for needed medical intensive care, hundreds of Republican Tea Party zealots in the audience cheered that society should "just let him die."

That Republicans would condemn millions to death and misery was already known from Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Tea Party scheme to dismantle Medicare, hand all its money to GOP insurance industry cronies, and pawn off future seniors with worthless discount coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found wouldn't cover a third of seniors' health care costs.

That Michele Bachmann would casually kill countless women to score political points with an extremist anti-vaccine sect was not in the least surprising.

The Republican breed was so abhorrent, so utterly depraved, so thoroughly corrupted they routinely and casually discarded and abused even their own children. The Republican breed routinely condemned their own sons and daughters to unspeakable abuse and torture in barbaric concentration camps, Mother Jones reported.

What chance did anyone stand against a breed that remorselessly brutalized their own offspring?

Throughout the South and the Mountain West, Republicans have discarded thousands upon thousands of so-called "troubled" teens in countless torture camps. To perpetrate their depravity, Republicans have systematically proscribed any oversight or regulation of these torture camps under the guise of religious freedom. Missouri's Republican state legislature, which last April infamously outlawed Sharia law in a brazen outpouring of Muslim-bashing, has repeatedly scuttled oversight of its teen torture camps citing obeisance to Christian faith-based institutions. Montana's Republican legislature also recently defeated legislation to regulate their Christian torture camps.

Republican state Representative Christy Clark dismissed those testifying about abuse at Montana's torture camps as unreliable witnesses who "struggle with truthfulness," a condition Clark was undoubtedly intimately familiar with.

Throughout their fief, Republicans proscribed law enforcement and child welfare services even tallying the number and location of these torture centers, let alone inspecting or regulating them.

This was what Republicans called eliminating overbearing government regulation.

Shielded from the law, sadistic overseers subjected their helpless victims to beatings, isolation, and deprivation tortures. At New Beginnings' torture camp in Missouri, victims were locked in isolation cells, given only two bathroom breaks a day when they could only use two squares of toilet paper, monitored while bathing and using the toilet, and forced into endless calisthenics. Infractions such as making eye contact with other inmates and eating too little resulted in punishments.

Forbidden from contacting their parents, desperate inmates attempted smuggling distress pleas to the recipients of Bibles they were forced to distribute. More punishments ensued.

New Beginnings operated countless camps under various names in Florida, Mississippi and Texas as well as Missouri.

The Christian torture camps have been brutalizing children for years. In isolated compounds, inmates have been beaten while covered with blankets, forced to scour kitchen pots with undiluted bleach, bludgeoned with paddles, whipped with belts, and forced to drink copious quantities of water and forbidden to use the toilet.

The handful of mortified parents who fought to rescue their kids from torture centers and the handful of courageous survivors strong enough to break their conditioning and speak out were the only breaches in the wall of secrecy Republicans and evangelical supremacists operated behind.

A people who subjected their own children to torture and abuse was certain to have no scruples about torturing and abusing foreign combatants.

A breed that abandoned their own children to torture and abuse was certain to dismantle Medicare, eliminate Social Security and abandon a nation's poor and elderly to misery and death.

A coven that tortured and abused children they supposedly loved was certain to inflict any horror upon gays, persons of color, and followers of different faiths they openly hated.

The Inquisition, the Nazis, and the Stalinist Soviets bore no more depraved roots, committed no more horrific preludes, or perpetrated no more terrible precursors than this Republican breed. Where, then, would history eventually find this sect?

For the children abandoned to Christian faith-based torture camps, and a yet unnamed woman dying of cervical cancer in 2032, the horrors have already begun.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cantor Nixes Auto Jobs To Boost Virginia Aid

GOP Raids Job-Growing Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program for Disaster Relief Money

Drunk from their succession of hostage-taking victories, smug in their certainty that every dollar in America should end up in their grasping manicured hands, the GOP Tea Party kicked plundering America into an even more unconscionable high gear.

During Monday's CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential grandstanding, Tea Partisans hooted and cheered when Wolf Blitzer asked Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) if an uninsured person needed intensive care, whether society should "just let him die."

Two days later, Tea Party hero House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), standard-bearer for the push to offset hurricane and earthquake spending by plundering other programs, moved to ax $1.5 billion in so-called Section 136 loans from a successful Bush-era program that funded new plants and retooling to build energy-efficient cars so he could hand the money to his wealthy home-state cronies.

Cantor figured the best thing for America was to dismantle a program that had already created more than 40,000 American manufacturing and construction jobs so his hooting, cat-calling Tea Party constituents could add lavish extensions to their Virginia McMansions.

"By introducing a plan to gut Section 136 loans, House Republicans have shown that they don't care about manufacturing jobs in places like the Greater Detroit Area," said Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI). "We should fund recovery efforts in Eric Cantor's district, but not at the expense of programs designed to address the economic disaster that hit Michigan and other manufacturing states."

Obviously, a Tea Party movement eager to plunder Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and abandon millions to misery and death outside the locked doors of hospital emergency rooms wouldn't bat an eye to plunder a successful jobs program that put food on the tables and roofs over the heads of those same millions they'd already condemned to misery and death.

And, as though that were not outrage enough, Cantor and his Tea Party minions sought to cancel out $1.5 billion in loans to the auto industry to fund permanent giveaways to themselves.

"It's outrageous that House Republicans are pushing a plan that would drive advanced technology jobs overseas, and that they are trying to ram it through by attaching it to disaster relief," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) told the Detroit News.

The $1.5 billion Cantor and his cronies would devour was nearly half of the $4.1 billion remaining out of $25 billion originally slated in 2008 to rebuild the American auto industry so it could manufacture the fuel-efficient cars and trucks competitive in the 21st century. The money, among other successes, moved production of the Ford Focus from Mexico to Michigan, the Nissan Leaf from Japan to Tennessee, and helped launch Tesla.

And, on top of creating tens of thousands of jobs, rebuilding an American component supply chain industry, and revitalizing a moribund manufacturing base, the auto industry was paying back the loans with interest.

When Cantor and his Tea Party cronies got through with the ten-million-dollar makeovers stacking extra stories and stables and tennis courts onto the Virginia McMansions of 1,500 of their closet friends and contributors, Cantor and his Tea Party cronies weren't about to repay American taxpayers for their largess. Cantor and his Tea Party cronies weren't going to return the Carrera marble counter tops or the gold bathroom fixtures or the solid Tanzanian Mpingo-wood decks.

Cantor and his Tea Party cronies were going to deport the Spanish-speaking wage-theft victims who rebuilt their McMansions, close the gates, and sic the dogs on any uninvited Americans who might venture near their wrought-iron fences.

Behind those wrought-iron barriers, Cantor and his Tea Party cronies were going to sip champagne from their Baccarat crystal flutes and revel in the unprecedented opulence bought at the expense of tens of thousands of American jobs. In a double win-win, Cantor and his Tea Party cronies were going to shriek and howl that President Barack Obama had yet again failed to create jobs. In a double win-win, Cantor and his Tea Party cronies, having killed a government program that had been creating tens of thousands of jobs, were going to scream and shout that there was no such thing as a government program that created jobs.

And, Cantor and his Tea Party cronies were, once again, going to tell Americans the only way America was going to revive its moribund economy was by electing more Tea Party cronies and lavishing them with more tax breaks, subsidies, giveaways, McMansion expansions, Carrera marble and gold fixtures, solid Tanzanian Mpingo-wood adornments, and Baccarat crystal amenities.

And Americans, poor, stupid, gullable and unwaveringly dedicated to the hypnotically-implanted conditioning applied by so many GOP-trained evangelical brainwashers that square-jawed, blow-dried, botoxed, collagen-injected right-wing populists flashing empty capped-tooth smiles were their saviors, and that scruffy, long-haired, nerdy, tie-dyed, city-dwelling, Nobel Prize-winning, often non-white progressives were evil godless witches and trolls, would robotically vote Republican and march lockstep to their collective doom as Cantor and his Tea Party cronies laughed and jeered them on.

Cantor and his wealthy, indolent Virginia Tea Party cronies shouldn't get a single thin, red cent to pile extra bathrooms and tennis courts and swimming pools onto their lavish estates. The Tea Party zealots that incessantly, obsessively espoused Ayn Randian Objectivist self-sufficiency seemed to always be the ones incessantly, obsessively, plundering taxpayers to fund their opulent lifestyles.

The Eric Cantors pillaging job-creation funds for McMansion expansions and the Michele Bachmanns (R-MN) pillaging Medicaid and farm subsidies to fund facelifts and tummy tucks seemed incapable of making money in any way except by stealing it from taxpayers or bilking brainwashed sycophants who shelled out for their mind-numbing books and DVDs and t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Such was the nature of Tea Party denizens who would destroy American jobs and the American economy for personal gain. Such was the nature of Tea Party zealots who would condemn millions to sickness, misery and death to plunder Social Security and Medicare.

Such was the nature of evil.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lamestream America Blundering Toward Tawdry National Identity

It turned out Sarah Palin was right about the mainstream media being pretty lame.

The mainstream media was so lame, it had actually taken to defending Palin at every turn. The swimsuit-modelling former Alaska governor and present-day peddler of self-branded books, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and DVDs has come under a bit more scrutiny than the usual unadulterated adulation of fawning sycophants, and such august institutions as the New York Times have leapt to Palin's defense, seriously taking to task any number of unadoring books, DVDs and even comic strips that weren't fawning over Palin, the Politico reported.

Which goes to show just how much show biz adores and fawns over its A-listers. Palin is, after all, a television star.

But the celebrity-coddling didn't stop with the New York Times Book Review's scathing rejection of Joe McGinniss' Palin-skewering tome The Rogue, or the Chicago Tribune's censorship of Palin-skewering Doonesbury strips, or Variety's savage panning of Nick Broomfield's Palin-skewering mockumentary You Betcha!

The celebrity-coddling ran clear through the serious pandering to such so-not-ready-for-primetime politicelebrities as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Gov. Rick Perry. And, the celebrity-coddling by no means was confined to the media, lamestream or otherwise.

And to think they used to make fun of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Paul came off like a pipe-smoking Oxford don compared to Bachmann, Perry, Palin and the whole panoply of Republican perps and suspects.

For instance, defacto compulsive liar Bachmann's out-and-out prevarications included, according to Politifact:
  • President Barack Obama had "virtually no one in his cabinet with private sector experience."
  • "One. That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office."
  • Small businesses with "$250,000 in gross sales for the business. They're the ones that are looking at massive tax increases."
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "has been sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she's flying."
  • ACORN will be a paid partner of the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • "Swine flu broke out" under Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
  • "My husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from (their family's) farm."
  • "The President released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve."
Mixing up Elvis Presley's birth and death, untrue accusations that a group of detained Muslim imams were attending a Democratic pols' victory celebration, claiming to be at a family reunion when she wasn't, and telling a radio audience that she'd "just spoke with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs" when she hadn't didn't even make Politifacts' list.

"Maybe she's a little passionate, but she's not scripted. She's real," Iowa state senator and Bachmann lackey Kent Sorenson told the New York Times, lowering the bar for the era of reality TV.

If Bachmann's lies hadn't made her a real A-lister, she'd better jump the couch.

Most recently, Bachmann jumped on the right-wing mental deficients' vaccinophobia band wagon, declaring that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine caused mental retardation. Bachmann lambasted rival ideo-demagogue Gov. Rick Perry for wanting young girls to get "an injection of what could potentially be a very dangerous drug."

Previous versions of right-wing vaccinophobia included the hysterical ravings led by noted conservative nude centerfold model Jenny McCarthy against the Measles, Mumps and Rubella triple-shot vaccine, which supposedly caused autism.

Incidentally, the phrase 'conservative nude centerfold model' should preclude any necessity for having to buy a vowel while deciphering the exact depth to which the right-of-center movement had plunged of late.

Or the depth of gratuitous celebrity-coddling in America.

Because, despite intervals of lucidity during which nearly seven in ten Americans wanted those making $250,000 or much, much more a year to pay higher taxes to shore up Social Security, or Medicare, or to pay down the nation's debts, Americans repeatedly thronged any square-jawed, blow-dried, right-wing demagogue with a peroxide smile openly calling for the elimination of Social Security and Medicare to fund ever more and bigger tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for big corporations and the rich.

The problem with lamestream America was by no means confined to the media. The problem with lamestream America wasn't even confined to its politicians.

Lamestream America was lame because an ever rising tide of Americans were lame.

Lamest of all the lame were the lamos cheering for uninsured Americans to die.

On Monday's CNN/Tea Party GOP presidential pretenders' debate, mediator Wolf Blitzer asked Paul if a 30-year-old without health insurance needed intensive care, whether society should "just let him die." Paul hemmed and hawed, but the audience didn't.

Like a surly Roman Colosseum crowd, the audience erupted into cheers and catcalls. "Yeah!" they cried and hooted. Thumbs down.

Like Nazis exterminating the handicapped and the retarded. Like Spartans abandoning the weak. Like the Khmer Rouge, Serbian militias, and Hutu hordes slaughtering anyone they hated.

The Americans in Wolf Blitzer's audience didn't need HPV vaccine to be retarded. The Americans in Wolf Blitzer's audience didn't need MMR shots to be autistic. The Americans in Wolf Blitzer's GOP CNN/Tea Party crowd were lame just the way they were.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Boehner Regurgitates Big GOP Lie: Tax Breaks For Rich Creates Jobs

Right on cue, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reared up on his hind legs before the Economics Club of Washington and Thursday perpetuated the Big Lie that the way to economic recovery was more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for the GOP's wealthy cronies and patrons.

A house packed with wealthy GOP cronies and patrons cheered and applauded.

Attacking President Barack Obama's jobs bill, Boehner spouted the standard GOP blather that the wealthy needed more tax breaks and subsidies, and free reign to cheat their customers, bilk their suppliers, despoil the environment and Ponzi-scheme their way to even more ill-gotten riches.

Creating jobs was the excuse du jour, although thirty years of lavishing the wealthy with tax breaks and subsidies, and free reign to cheat their customers, bilk their suppliers, despoil the environment and Ponzi-scheme their way to ill-gotten riches hadn't created any jobs yet. Except, perhaps, at lobbying firms, where GOP lawmakers could rotate between government positions collecting graft and private positions doling out graft.

"Last week, the President put forth a new set of proposals. The House will consider them, as the American people expect," Boehner prevaricated from the start.

"Let's be honest with ourselves," Boehner apparently liked irony. "The President's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America."

To the GOP, "pro-growth" meant concentrating an ever greater proportion of everyone's money into an ever shrinking pool of the richest plutocrats on Earth.

"It's a very simple equation," Boehner warmed up to spout the GOP's biggest, most pernicious self-serving lie of all. "Tax increases destroy jobs."

Of course, when Boehner said "tax increases destroy jobs," he wasn't talking about tax increases on the poor and middle classes. Boehner and the Republicans didn't give a fig about increasing taxes on the poor and middle classes. Boehner and the Republicans hated expanding the middle class payroll tax cut from 2% to 3.1%, and instead wished they could cancel the existing 2% tax break altogether.

When Boehner said "tax increases destroy jobs," he meant tax increases on big corporations and the rich.

And that was the Big Lie.

GOP tax cuts for the rich have already concentrated 84% of America's wealth into the hands of the richest 20% of Americans, without creating any jobs in the process. Republican tax cuts for the rich concentrated 84% of America's wealth into the hands of the richest 20% of Americans, while eliminating, outsourcing, and offshoring millions of jobs.

GOP tax cuts for the rich have left middle-class wages stagnant. Not only that, GOP tax-slashing policies caused the S&P 500's growth to stagnate as well. Even the rich suffered under GOP tax-slashing fervor.

Reflecting on the Great Depression of the 1930s, Marriner Eccles, Federal Reserve chair from 1934 to 1948, said, "a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth.... By taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants."

In 1926, the Coolidge Administration slashed the top income tax rate from 44% to 25%. But 1929, conditions were such that Marriner Eccles would later fret over them. Even Herbert Hoover realized what was up, and raised the top rate to 58% in 1932. Too late. The damage was done.

It wasn't until Franklin Delano Roosevelt started throwing an alphabet soup of stimulus projects at the economy that green shoots began to appear here and there. But, as every Republican loved to point out, the economy didn't really right itself until World War II bailed out the vaunted job creators of the private sector.

Well, World War II, a 94% top tax rate, and unprecedented government stimulus in the form of orders for 12,731 B-17 Flying Fortresses, 18,482 B-24 Liberators, 5,288 B-26 Marauders, 13,738 P-40 Warhawks, 10,037 P-38 Lightnings, 15,686 P-47 Thunderbolts, 16,766 P-51 Mustangs, and 12,571 F4U Corsairs, just to name a few of the combat aircraft, without even starting on the 49,234 M-4 Sherman tanks, or the 193,000 artillery pieces, or the two million trucks, or any of the other ocean-spanning convoy-fulls of material. C-rations. Combat boots. Uniform pants. The occasional top-secret project to build an atomic bomb.

Stimulus spending indeed.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) whined that Obama's modest spending proposal to kick-start the economy was "venture socialism," demonstrating the incessant GOP penchant for turning catchy phrases to justify selling their country out to international plutocrats.

"There are a number of Democrats...and this is the scariest thing of all, who really believe that government spending is the major part of our economy," DeMint pontificated to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.

DeMint clearly would have preferred to spreche Deutsch, instead of making the rich cough up a 90% tax rate and saving the world.

And that 90%+ tax rate kept America humming until the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations closed a bunch of loopholes and reduced the top tier to a plutocrat-coddling 70% in the sixties. During that time, the private sector somehow managed to bump along while America rebuilt all of Europe and Japan, and built a whole new America with an Interstate Freeway system, a GI Bill, and a whole raft of new schools and libraries and highways and byways and dams and bridges and the occasional space program that sent humans to the moon.

Now, America didn't have a human space flight program, but Richard Branson did.

Tax breaks for the rich, indeed.

The fact remained that unless taxes on the rich kept money flowing around a capitalist system, money tended to accumulate into the few unconscionably lucky, greedy, and brutally selfish hands Marriner Eccles fretted over.

The fact remained that despite John Boehner's and Republicans' lies to the contrary, cutting taxes on the rich never created jobs. The fact remained that every tax cut, tax break and tax subsidy Republicans lavished on the rich was a job-destroying defacto tax hike on everyone else. Republicans destroyed jobs every time they slashed services and handed the savings to their rich cronies, forcing everyone else to shell out cash for services that used to be free. Republicans destroyed jobs when the cash everyone had to shell out for formerly free services was diverted from the marketplace, crippling demand: Health care; parking; museums; transportation; school supplies.

Most importantly, raising taxes on the rich not only didn't inhibit job creation, it was an absolutely essential component of job creation.

Taxing the rich kept money from disappearing into arcane fiduciary instruments. Taxing the rich kept money circulating among the middle classes, who spent it, driving demand and encouraging investment in plants and equipment.

Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged cost-saving mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, outsourcing and offshoring to artificially pump up a bottom line for bigger tax-free profits. Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged locking away more and more tax-free profits into an ever-expanding menagerie of money-sequestering creative financial instruments. Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged making money by trading money, instead of by making and selling things.

Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks was what people did when they cared more about big corporations and the rich than they did about America.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

While GOP Rails Against Social Security, Corporate Giants Are Real Ponzi Scams

GOP Presidential rabble-rouser Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans of his ilk ranting and raving that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme ought to look up what a Ponzi scheme really was.

For the benefit of those who hadn't had the time to cruise Wikipedia or watch a couple of TV crime dramas, a Ponzi scheme was a scam wherein a con artist got a bunch of marks to give him all their money by promising a big return on their investments, and got everyone to believe him by paying off some of the earlier marks with money collected from later marks. Then, when the scammer figured he'd gotten a big enough haul, he dashed with the cash.

Social Security, despite Perry's and the GOP's ravings, was solvent for another twenty years, and with minor tweaks to payroll taxes, namely by having Perry and his ultra-rich cronies kick in their fair share of scoots, would remain solvent until genetically engineered pigs rocketed through space, at which point Social Security would be the least of eveyone's problems.

For real Ponzi schemes, one need look no further than the trans-national plutocracies greasing the political wheels. For real scams and ripoffs, one need look no further than the trickle-down, supply-side voodoo economics corporate scammers that call the shots.

Perry and Republicans of his ilk want to plunder the Social Security trust funds and hand all the money to their Wall Street cronies. After all, the big money tycoons were running a bit short having blown all the money everyone pumped into 401Ks and mutual funds. The S&P 500 closed on September 14 at 1172.87, a whole eighty-some-odd points above where it closed on September 14, 2001, when it closed at 1092.34. That was a whole lot of nothing for however much folks pumped into the S&P 500 over those ten years. Well, a whole lot of nothing minus the appropriate fees and carrying charges bankers, brokers, hedge fund managers and assorted wannabes and hangers-on deducted for booze, hookers and that fleet of Cessna Citation Xs.

Which was why Perry and his GOP brethren figured doing away with Social Security and handing all of eveyone's money to those same big money tycoons was just the trick to secure everyone's retirement, or at least the big money tycoons' retirements, less the appropriate fees and carry charges for booze, hookers, and another fleet of Cessna Citation Xs. Or XIIs. Or whatever Roman numeral Cessna would be up to by that time.

Because who wouldn't want to hand all her money to the likes of Bank of America, one of the nation's Big Four banks? Or whatever number Big banks America was down to nowadays.

Not that Bank of America was really Bank of America, the venerable San Francisco fiduciary institution founded by Amadeo P. Giannini that, thanks to a wise investment in fireproof vaults, was up and running behind an plank set on a couple of barrels while the ruins were still smoldering from the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Because Bank of America was really NationsBank, the ignoble North Carolina pyramid scam that bought out and leveraged and merged with about a gazillion other banks, including Bank of America, which by then was also leveraging and buying out about a gazillion banks itself, until they leveraged their cakeholes into buying out Countrywide and Merrill Lynch and collapsed the whole teetering pile of cards.

Now, that was a Ponzi scheme if ever there was one.

Now, B of A, or whatever the seething den of Enronian inequity was calling itself nowadays, announced Monday it was going to have to add another 30,000 poor slobs to the legions of unemployed queuing for the dole, as they might say in Jolly Old. Now B of A, or whatever the heaving pile of private-sector plutocracy-in-action was calling itself nowadays, was going to have to combine even more operations and close even more offices to keep the champagne flowing and the caviar doing whatever caviar did in the boardrooms and corporate suites and aboard all those Cessna Citation Roman numeral whatevers.

Not that any of that was going to help B of A, as when a Ponzi scheme collapsed, it really, really collapsed.

"I think this is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, actually," economist Simon Johnson, late of the International Monetary Fund and current MIT nabob told the PBS Newshour. "Our biggest bank has got itself into terrible trouble. Remember, they bought Countrywide at a crazy price. They bought Merrill Lynch at an even more crazy price. They need to unravel this mega-bank. It's too big to manage at this point."

Countrywide, for the benefit of those who'd been neglecting to fill in their scorecards, was the banking scam that went from lame to fame by pumping piles of cash into the housing bubble, then crashed all the way to left-hand-to-the-forehead loser when the boom went bust in 2008.

Now, thanks to B of A's braniacs from the Charlie Ponzi School of Business and Elocution, B of A, Countrywide notwithstanding, owned more bad paper than all the settling tanks in all the sewage treatment plants in America.

"The big uncertainty for Bank of America is how much...are all their other mortgage problems going to cost them?" said Bert Ely, monetary policy wonk, as though the bad paper itself wasn't a big enough problem. "They're facing lawsuits in the billions, maybe several tens of billions of dollars."

When asked whether B of A was down for the count or was going to make it to a neutral corner, Ely made a throat-clearing sort of noise and said, "It's going to be a long hard slog for them to do so."

That would be a "no."

And, as far as corporate America's money mavens went, B of A was the First Team. Top Dog. Cock of the walk. If-you-could-make-it-there-you-make-it-everywhere, "A" foam-finger Number One.

Exactly the sort of folks Rick Perry figured should be in charge of everyone's money, instead of bumbling, stumbling old Ponzi-scamming Uncle Sam, who everyone and his or her brother, sister, and third cousins twice-removed and put back three times was shovelling mountains of cash at because all the equity markets everywhere in the world were making like the Cyclone at Coney Island.

Ponzi scheme indeed. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Republicans Want to "Peel Off" Tax Breaks, Can Jobs Portion of Obama Jobs Plan

The Earth is not flat. You don't catch STDs from a toilet seat. And lowering taxes on corporations and the rich never, ever, pever, jever, hever, kever, pfever, schmever creates jobs.

As proof, the only parts of President Barack Obama's job plan Republicans wanted to enact were the tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for businesses and corporations. Those, and the free trade deals with Panama, Columbia, and South Korea, which would facilitate GOP cronies setting up shop in those countries and taking their rake.

Republicans liked the $4,000 tax credit for employers who hired poor schmucks who'd been out of work for more than six months. Republicans liked the payroll tax break for employers, although they opposed any payroll tax cut for employees.

Republicans loved those features because they won't create new jobs, and the last thing Republicans wanted the economy to do while Barry H. Obama was in the White House was create jobs.

Republicans loved those features because they won't create jobs, but they'd give the GOP's oil moguls and coal magnates and corporate cronies big, fat tax subsidies on workers they were going to hire anyway, and strangle Social Security just that much more to boot.

Republicans loved that oil and gas companies laying on extra crews to hydrofrack the crap out of every available square inch of Texas and Pennsylvania and Upstate New York won't have to shell out for payroll taxes on the extra crews they were laying on anyway.

Republicans loved going to their industry cronies and taking all the credit for "peeling off," as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) put it, another fat tax subsidy for fat cats already making money hand over fist to devastate the environment and despoil the nation's groundwater.

Because tax breaks and subsidies never, ever, pever, jever created jobs.

"You still need to have the business need to hire," Nutsonline owner Jeffery Braverman told the New York Times. "Business demand is what drives hiring."

65% of economists the Wall Street Journal surveyed in July stated lack of demand was keeping businesses from hiring more workers. There was no sense in hiring more people to design and engineer and manufacture and sell and distribute more widgets if there was nobody buying widgets. Only 27% of economists said uncertainty over what the government might do was holding back hiring, despite Republicans and Fox News claiming that was the main reason America was in the economic doldrums. Another smattering cited cheaper labor overseas as the drag on the U.S. jobs picture.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist Marty Regalia summed it up. "If I get a $4,000 benefit for hiring you, and I pay you $80,000 and you're going to sit at your desk and do nothing because there's nothing to do," he said, "then the businesses aren't going to hire you."

Thus, tax cuts and tax breaks and tax subsidies to employers alone never, ever, pever, jever created more jobs. Without demand, employers, those hallowed magnificences Republicans dubbed Job Creators so they could appropriately bear the same initials as Christendom's namesake deity, won't hire anyone no matter how many sacrificial tax offerings were laid upon their altars.

Demand created jobs. Demand for goods, for services, for parts, for labor. Widgetco would make more widgets only when people had enough disposable income to buy them. Then, and only then, would Widgetco hire more workers to make, sell, and distribute widgets. Then, and only then, would Widgetco hire the widget designers and widget engineers they'd need to create the next generation of new, improved widgets. Then, and only then, would Widgetco install new, improved widget makers to cast all the new, improved next generation widgets. And, everyone Widgetco hired would then themselves have disposable income to spend on everything widget makers spent disposable income on.

The trick then, was to jump-start demand. The trick, then, was for someone, anyone, to start hiring a few people to do something, anything, just so you could pay them enough for them to go to Safeway and Walmart to get the demand ball rolling.

That someone had always been government.

Which was why Republicans hated the part of Obama's jobs proposal that hired people to do things. Which was why Republicans hated the jobs part of Obama's jobs proposal.

Republicans hated Obama's proposal to fix roads and bridges and tunnels and highways and byways. That would create thousands of jobs, which would create millions in disposable income, which would create tens of millions in demand. Most of all, Republicans really, really hated Obama's plan to repair and upgrade 35,000 U.S. schools. Not only would that create thousands of jobs, and income, and demand, it would educate millions of kids and prepare them for college for even more and better jobs.

Republicans hated the thought that any significant portion of the million unemployed construction workers presently cooling their heels might start putting up steel and sheetrock. Republicans hated the notion that a million guys and gals swinging hammers and pouring concrete would get paychecks they'd cash for food and clothes and school supplies and refrigerators and, gawdferbid, cars and whole new houses.

Republicans hated the 2% payroll tax cut for workers being expanded to 3.1%, putting an extra $500 in people's pockets, which they'd doubtless spend on shoes or Miracle Whip or Tylenol or, gawdferbid, an iPhone, or iPad, or iMac.

This was why Republicans absolutely, positively had to "peel off" all the oil mogul-coddling, non-job creating tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies in Obama's plan and pass them, while making absolutely, positively sure the worker-boosting, job-creating parts of Obama's plan never, ever saw the light of day.

How else were they ever going to get Gov. Rick Perry into the White House?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Republicans Will Nix the Best of Obama's Jobs Bill

What once made America a great and unique country was that it strove to value every person's work, whether it was humble or grand. Whether ad exec, administrator, carpenter, cowhand, janitor or physician, every American could aspire to raising a family and owning a home and sending the kids to good schools from K through MBA.

This was what set America apart from the historical default setting wherein the rich brandished a free ticket in life while everyone else toiled in misery and hopelessness. In America, while the rich could enjoy their private country clubs and Chrysler Imperials, ordinary dock workers could afford a round at a very good muni and a Chevy Bel Air. Thanks to planned obsolescence, everyone got a new car every three years, with a chance to measure his -and it was his - progress from Ford to Mercury to Lincoln.

Thanks to progressive income taxes that went as high as 70% or 90% on the richest Americans, all Americans enjoyed roads and bridges and airports and schools and libraries that were new or in good repair. Thanks to progressive income taxes that recirculated wealth through the economy instead of having it disappear into labyrinthine shelters of arcane financial instruments, all Americans enjoyed living and working in a country where businesses and industries innovated and built the wonders of a century right here in the U. S. of A.

Well, not all Americans. And, when the Civil Rights Act set that straight, a goodly chunk of Americans banded together in the Republican Party, decided there wouldn't be any more of that nonsense, and cut taxes to 35%. No sense in paying good money for that lot to get ahead.

President Barack Obama, one of that lot who got ahead, Thursday presented his remarkably ambitious jobs proposal to a joint session of Congress, and, as though intent on proving his un-that-lot-ish centristness, some portions of his speech drew raucous applause from Democrats while Republicans sat stone-faced, and other portions of his speech drew frighteningly enthusiastic applause from Republicans while Democrats sat on their hands.

There was much that was good in Obama's speech, although even taken as a whole, its $447 billion in proposals weren't going to be enough to cover the $1 trillion hole carved into the current economy. And, of course, Republicans had no intention of passing much of the President's proposal.

House Majority Leader and designated GOP attack dog Eric Cantor (R-VA) Friday told the House, "I feel, and have said so many times since the President's speech, that this is an opportunity for us to set aside the differences that we have, because good people can differ, and begin to focus on things like allowing tax relief for small businesses, like allowing for the rollback of regulatory impediments that stand in the way of small business growth."

Of course, when Cantor said, "small business," he doubtless wanted the rubes to envision some earnest exurban duffer with a pickup truck and a box of Sears Craftsman tools, not the $30 million oil and gas pipeline companies, or the 900-employee petrochemical manufacturing firms he was really talking about.

And, when Cantor said, "set aside the differences," he meant Obama and Democrats and Americans as a whole shouldn't hold their collective breath waiting for Republicans to embrace much of the President's $447 billion proposal.

"I certainly would like to see us be able to peel off some of these ideas," Cantor told reporters.

As much as Republicans loved tax cuts for the rich, they deplored tax cuts for the middle class and poor, so they weren't likely to embrace Obama's pitch to expand the current 2% cut in payroll taxes to 3.1%.

"If the goal is job creation, Leader Cantor has long believed that there are better ways to grow the economy and create jobs than temporary payroll tax relief," Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring recently told the New York Times.

As much as Republicans loved their pork, they were unlikely to embrace repairing and upgrading 35,000 schools in America, some of which might be attended by that lot. They were unlikely to fall for fixing the bridge between House Speaker John Boehner's Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Kentucky, although each was surely grinding his teeth at having to pass up such a nice fat chunk of pork.

And least likely of all to fan the flames of Republican ardor was Obama's call to raise taxes on America's wealthy patrons of the GOP.

"I'm also well aware that there are many Republicans who don't believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it," Obama said. "But here is what every American knows: While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes nobody else gets."

Poll after poll revealed that more than six in ten Americans wanted the rich to pay more in taxes to close the nation's budget deficit and bolster Social Security and Medicare.

"Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?" Obama asked doubtless rhetorically, as every Republican picked up a Number Two pencil and filled in the radial next to "tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires," while grinning and congratulating themselves for knowing the right answer to that one.

More than the $4,000 bribe to hire unemployed Americans, more than the payroll tax cut for $30 million oil and gas pipeline companies, more than the trade bills with Panama and Columbia and South Korea that would likely create more jobs in those countries than in America, Republicans' favorite part of Obama's speech was surely the part where Obama asked Congress' Supercommittee to find another half trillion in spending cuts to offset his $450 billion jobs pitch.

Cantor and Republicans doubtless would love to "peel off" the half trillion in cuts while nixing the bridge-building and road-repairing and school-fixing and teacher-hiring. Republicans would doubtless love to take the payroll tax giveaway to employers while nixing the payroll tax cut for workers. Republicans would doubtless love to snag the free trade deals with Columbia and South Korea while axing business and environmental regulations and worker protections.

Republicans would love to take everything Obama offered in the way of more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for corporations and the rich, while chucking everything in the way of creating more jobs.

Fortunately for Republicans, $447 billion in jobs spending wasn't going to plug a $1 trillion hole in the economy. Fortunately for Republicans, there was enough among Obama's proposals for Republicans to "peel off" and appear cooperative without really helping the economy.

Fortunately for Republicans, they could still make sure no one would restore that long-ago America where everyone's work, whether teacher or firefighter or common laborer, was valued enough to provide a middle class life with a home, self-respect, a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage.

If they couldn't, Gov. Rick Perry might never become President Rick Perry.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Obama Jobs Speech Feels Irrevelant After Humiliating Debt Ceiling Fight

When a beleaguered Barack Obama steps to the podium before a joint session of Congress Thursday night to deliver a speech on the most pressing issue facing the nation, one has to wonder whether congressional Republicans will even bother to show up.

One has to wonder whether anyone in America will show up. The President's jobs speech, humiliatingly wedged into a non-primetime 7 pm slot between folks on the west coast tidying their cubicles or getting stuck in rush hour traffic and the special Thursday night NFL season kickoff edition of Sunday Night Football, had the air of futile irrelevance.

Talk about diminished: White House spokesperson Jay Carney had to assure America that Obama wouldn't preempt the game's opening kickoff.

It was hard to imagine the President's jobs speech as bearing any sort of relevance. Clearly, Republicans would deny, deride and ridicule every proposal he made, no matter how innocuous. It was in the Republicans' interest to make sure the economy they and George W. Bush crashed in 2008 stayed crashed until 2012.

It was hard to imagine Obama having any sort of relevance in any venue. He was a man defeated and discarded by virile Republican legislators who held all the cards and called all the shots. He was a man who needed permission for every action.

Republicans had even demanded they be allowed to vet Obama's speech before he delivered it. One could imagine Obama raising his hand to ask House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) permission to use the bathroom.

And being told to wait.

Throughout the Republicans' grinding, unconscionable, summer-long hostage-taking of the normally pro forma debt ceiling hike, no one seemed to notice that Barack Obama and the prestige of the Office of the President of the United States had steadily, inexorably been strangled and humiliated to death.

Republicans masterfully leveraged ransoming the debt ceiling not just to extort outrageous budget-busting spending cuts they couldn't have dreamed of extracting through normal legislative processes: Republicans effectively destroyed the Obama Presidency, all but making good on their promise to hold Obama and Democrats to a single term in the White House.

Barring some last moment, fourth down, eighty-yard hail-Mary pass more appropriate, if no less likely, for the kind of football game following Obama's Thursday speech, rather than the football game that was the last fifteen months of his Presidency, future historians will doubtless mark the debt-ceiling drama as the debacle that destroyed Obama.

Before the debt-ceiling debacle, Obama was another President fighting a recalcitrant Congress. After the debt-ceiling debacle, Obama was an irrelevant outcast in tattered rags loitering next to the freeway on-ramp plaintively holding up a hand-drawn cardboard sign reading, "Will address Congress for food."

President Bill Clinton was right. Obama should have invoked the 14th Amendment, raised the debt ceiling unilaterally, and dared this opponents to take him to court as though they were shrieking harpies screaming for a big divorce settlement. It would have made Obama appear strong, decisive, audacious, even reckless: all traits Americans admire and respect. It would have saved his Presidency.

But Obama was a born appeaser.

It was difficult to pin down the exact moment Republicans destroyed Obama. Sometime between Obama's forthright call for a clean debt-ceiling hike, and his concession to consider the nation's budget deficit, and his vision for a $4 trillion deficit reduction Grand Bargain gone awry, and his scrambling around looking for someone, anyone, to return his phone calls, Obama went from Commander-in-Chief to Capitulator-in-Chief to chiefly ignored and irrelevant.

Tragically, Obama's debasement had been so unnecessary. Republicans controlled only the lower chamber of the legislative branch, while Democrats controlled the Senate and the Presidency. A strong President would have brushed aside the rancorous extremists of the Tea Party and the far right wing of a minority already disgraced by the Bush years, a mere fly buzzing around the periphery of power.

But Obama was intent on inclusion, consensus and compromise, without understanding his opponents would only see weakness, appeasement, and capitulation.

During the debt ceiling negotiations, taunting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) delighted in driving a frustrated Obama from the room virtually in tears as though the Leader of the Free World was some thirteen-year-old girl spurned by the cutest boy in class.

Surely, Obama had someone from Homeland Security, from law enforcement, from TV crime dramas to tell him you never, ever negotiated with terrorists. It was not as though Obama was on an island as congressional Republicans harangued him with their demands. The vast majority of Americans despised the Republican hostage-takers. Even such Republican stalwarts as former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill derided the hostage-takers as, "a form of al Qaeda terrorists."

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), mistaking Obama's dedication to appeasement for stubborn determination, offered the President essentially a clean debt ceiling hike that quickly garnered bipartisan support as the clock ticked down toward national insolvency and default.

The Republicans actually blinked, disbelieving anyone could be so placatory as Obama, but Obama couldn't accept victory. Obama, flailing for a grand bargain as though trying to prove that was the only reason he'd allowed himself to be taken hostage in the first place, would only settle for defeat and humiliation.

McConnell and such old-guard Republicans as John Kyl (R-AZ) and John McCain (R-AZ), who backed the double-reverse clean debt ceiling hike at considerable political cost to themselves, will not make that mistake again.

Thus defeated, humiliated and emasculated, Obama will step to the podium Thursday night to beg Republicans to extend a middle class tax cut they won't extend without extracting more tax cuts, breaks and subsidies for the rich elsewhere in the budget, and to implore the GOP for two or three lousy hundred billion dollars in infrastructure repairs they'll just laugh out of town and which wouldn't be nearly enough to pull America from its economic malaise anyway.

Fortunately, no one will tune in to watch this penultimate debasement of the President of the United States. Everyone will say they were stuck in traffic, or they weren't interested in politics, or they were getting onion dip and a beer for kickoff.

In fact, no one wanted to see their President humiliated and debased. In fact, everyone will avert their eyes, as everyone does when seeing a tattered man in rags plaintively holding up a ragged cardboard sign.