A Sludge to America
History is repeating itself, and if we aren’t careful, it will repeat itself again.
In the “Pledge to America” released this month, Republicans talk about government not following the will of the people as if they aren’t part of the government or as if we didn’t have 8 years of a recent Republican President. Also, many of the point made are the same as the ones made in the Republican Contract for America of 1994. GOP-Pledge-to-America PDF
“Reclaim our government for the people”, the document states. From whom? You Republican leaders are NOT the people, they are a few people.
In the Pledge, Republicans project the current problems onto the Obama administration that has only been in office 2 years after 8 years of mismanagement under Bush and the Congress. By every statistic, except perhaps the growth of poverty amongst the population and the growth of the earnings for the wealthiest Americans, the Bush presidency was an economic failure.
As the Atlantic Monthly article points out, “It’s not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.” And that is why Republicans are trying to run away from their record, trying their tried and true fear tactics, and calling on nationalism and God in their Pledge.
Now somehow it’s all Obama’s fault that the huge debt that was created over the last 60 years, and exacerbated under Bush, is still there after two years of his presidency. And because of this faulty perception of our economy, the Republicans have to “reclaim our government for the people”. (Page 3, and others).
In the Pledge, the Republicans pretend that they haven’t been in government the last 60 years as incomes have dropped and corporations own more and more of our nation’s wealth. They tell us “Washington has not be listening”. (Pg 5). Well no shit, and that includes the Republican Party that has been in Washington the whole time.
There are a lot of pandering generalities in the Pledge. “Job killing tax hikes (pg 5)” Where’s the proof? Besides, the only tax “hikes” (really an elimination of a cut) will be on the top 2% to help the economy create more jobs.
“We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.” (Pg 3) Of course when they say, “traditional marriage”, they coming out against homosexual marriage.
They want to roll back the stimulus, “we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone”, but they want to keep the Bush tax cuts that would cost us about, $100 billion dollars year.
It’s clear that the Republicans want to continue the redistribution of wealth upward while the nation faces ever-growing poverty.
“We will govern differently than past Congresses of both parties.” (pg 6) Hello!? You are one of the two parties and nothing you laid out is different from what Bush and Congress under Bush did.
Sure, the Democrats in Congress under Bush cowed in the corner and let 9/11 lead them by the balls into bad decisions on wars and civil rights. But as my kindergarten teacher taught me, two wrongs (Republicans AND Democrats) don’t make a right.
They say they have a plan, but mostly their plan is to use nationalist language to get Americans to rally against the party in power and ignore their own positions on the issues.
The Pledge is an exercise in pleasing their base, and trying to convince the independents that they care. Too late for that.
Other than being fiscally conservative, supposedly, Republicans want to promote the costly missile defense (pg 6) shield that has yet to be deemed effective (except for helping missile contractors like Ratheon) or needed.
“Joblessness is the single most important challenge facing America today. Jobs are the lifeblood of our economy, and for our workforce, there is no substitute for the pride and dignity that comes with an honest day’s work and a steady paycheck.” (pg 14) Is that why they fight the stimulus that saved or created up to 3 million jobs? Is that why they want to cut spending to job training programs? Again, they mouth the words but they aren’t backed by action.
Then there are the outright lies, surprise, surprise, surprise. “He also wants to raise taxes on roughly half of small business income in America. Raising taxes on anyone in a struggling economy – especially small businesses – is precisely the wrong thing to do. Economists agree, as do the American people.”
First off, there is the lie about “half the small businesses” being hurt. The end to the top tier tax cuts only affects 3% of small businesses. As for “hurting” them, that is a value judgment. The top 2% paying more in taxes might make this nation more prosperous and help them.
Furthermore, economist don’t agree on anything, and some state that the top tax rates for the top 2% of earners should be returned to Clinton era levels, the levels when the deficit was zero. Still, others economists are for continuing the tax cuts for everyone.
“these looming tax hikes will hurt every family”. (pg 14) Nope, only those that make $250,000 or more will be affected. Remember Mr. Republican, you are the one who blocked 98% of America from getting continued tax relief to protect the top 2% incomes, not the Democrats.
The Pledge says that there are “Permanent bailouts”? (pg 15). Nothing is permanent about them. The TARP money passed during Bush, and much of the money has been paid back. The money was paid back during Obama’s term, so he must be doing a great job by most political logic.
And as far as the stimulus money goes, it saved some jobs, created a few, and could have been better spent. (link) It’s not an all or nothing proposition, all good or all bad. But when politicians, Republicans this time, want to vilify an enemy, it’s easier to make broad generalizations than explain the actual faults in the stimulus bill.
More specifically, the Republican say, “Our Plan to End The Uncertainty and Create Incentives for Job Growth” (pg 16). That is what the Small Business bill present by the Democrats is about, but you ignored it.
You say you want to end “Job killing Tax Hikes”? I wonder how Eisenhower created jobs AND raised taxes? (link) How did Eisenhower do it? He didn’t. Taxes have limited correlation to job creation and there is no hard evidence for their relationship.
The claims they make about reducing the deficit are ridiculous. They blame big government that they are part of for the huge deficits. If that is true, we shouldn’t vote for the people of the “Pledge” either. They seem to want to ignore inconvenient facts such as the deficit jumping upward during George W. Bush’s term and all the mandates like wars and other spending that were left for Obama.
Certainly, Obama can do better and his economic team is, was, a cadre of Wall Street bankers and middlemen that care more about protecting stock holders and banks than helping home owners refinance or workers get jobs. But the deficit was a team effort, both parties were to blame, and the Republican plan of reducing deficits and giving more incentives won’t reduce any budget.
To sum up the position of the Pledge: it’s all the Democrats fault, so vote for Republicans cause then the rich will have more money and it might trickle down upon you later.
It’s funny how in the deficit reduction section they want to get rid of the TARP (pg 21) when 1) they supported the bailouts in 2008, and 2) much of the money has been paid back. I do agree that we need to cut the budget for Congress, starting with salaries, close the revolving door of payouts to former Congress People, and White House advisors, and Wall Street.
However, lets honestly address the budget and cut out the fat the fat cats in big business are getting first before you harm workers by eliminating unemployment. There are no specifics about where they would cut the budget, other than Congress, which is a small part of the federal spending each year.
On page 22, they say that the US government should stop supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I agree, except if we do that we need to put more regulations on lending in general.
The wholly private lending companies did just as poorly as Freddie and Fannieh with a few exceptions, but only Fannie and Freddie get targeted for elimination by Republicans.
We need to stop speculation in low-income housing and the housing market in general and end the myth of home ownership for everyone.
Then the pledge takes on the “job killing health care bill”. The first parts of the bill that have been enacted, and those are welcome changes. Now due to the Health Care Overhaul Bill, companies must give health care to children up to age 26 and can’t eliminate you from a plan if you get sick. Those are good things. But the Republicans want to get rid of it all because regulation hurts their health company campaign donors. To fair, many Democrats (Max Baucus, I’m talking to YOU!) feed from the trough of health care donations and want to get rid of that troublesome bill as well.
The bill won’t hurt jobs like the Pledge claims, because health care costs will come down for companies that give it to the employees. Well, in theory it should work that way. But health insurance companies will increase rates to kill reform and we still don’t know what will happen.
Giving people a chance to have health care is a public good with some costs and some savings. They make a lot of claims in this “Pledge” about the dangers of health care, but back it up with NO evidence, no books, no studies, no links, nothing. There is little factual in the Pledge about the health care overhaul, so I leave it to you to dissect pages 26 and 27. Here are a few points:
And, most companies in 2010 aren’t dropping their employee coverage due to the health care bill.
Costs: Yes, as stated in the Pledge, costs for health insurance might not go down. That is one huge strike against the bill as written.
Taxes: Is the mandate a tax? Is the car insurance mandate a tax? It is a cost, and it is a cost now for many families. And the poorer members of society will get a helping hand paying for health care. Yes, socialism!!
Their alternatives? Tort reform (a lie as clearly stated in A Patriot’s Guide to Right-Wing Thinking), cross-state purchasing of insurance, as if companies don’t work across state lines and collude, and expand health savings accounts. Basically, market based decisions for a market that rips us off and doesn’t work and lets us die if we get sick. Great! One thing I agree with: “Ensure Access For Patients With Pre-Existing Conditions.” (pg 27)
Their section on reforming Congress? Ha ha, you are Congress. Nothing in there mentions real changes like I have promoted in my post about multi-party elections. Although, “Read the Bill” is a good idea. That would force debate on every bill. Adding unrelated amendments to spending bills without a separate vote on those amendments should also be prohibited. But I don’t think Republicans really want either, except for maybe Ron Paul.
“Secure our Nation!” (pg 37) The Republicans should have put this section first.
“Secure the Border.” What’s new? Build a 50-foot fence and watch the sale of 51-foot ladders go up. A military solution won’t work. Yes, protect the border. Where are the specifics?
“Pass clean troop funding bills”? Like all the military contracts that went to Cheney cronies under Bush? The Republicans have no credibility on this one. Many Democrats don’t either.
“Keep Terrorists out of America.” Good idea. Why didn’t I think of that?
“Fully Fund the Missile Defense Shield”? Even in a “Pledge” the Republicans couldn’t help but put in unnecessary pork.
Like Republican Pundits on MySpace, Red State Reader and elsewhere, the “Pledge to America” uses lots of pictures that mean nothing. 14 out of 45 pages have full color photos (about 40%) of the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, various workers in various posses, different Republican operatives that were in Congress under Bush (and currently) although they claim NOT to be of the government, and the strangest photo of all: a photo in silhouette of a cowboy, lasso at the ready, riding somewhere in the rugged west. Yes, the Republicans use a photo that could have been taken for a Marlboro Man ad as a way to promote their party (pg 17). Strange.
So there you have it. The Republicans try to run away from their involvement in the current crisis and the Bush years and pretend to be the party of something new by rehashing the ideas of Bush: tax cuts, less government and security. There are few, if any, innovative ideas in there, and the few I agree with, cutting the budget of Congress, cutting budgets, creating jobs, have been talked about and abandoned after elections past. Why should we think anything new will happen if either party is in charge?
If only we could start over and rewrite the Constitution every few years like they do in Colombia. Oh, Colombia is a military dictatorship disguised as a democracy you say? Perhaps we do have one of the worst systems, except for all the others, in the world? And perhaps we can learn from others and stop believing the lies like those in “A Pledge to America”.
Here’s to America, the best and the worst.
Action: just think for yourself and vote. Donate to local charities that help the homeless and poor in your neighborhood if you have any money to spare.