The Republican Swindle About ‘Obamacare and Stimulus’

The Republican strategy for this midterm election is simple: Treat voters like easily manipulated hoopleheads

Bob Cesca

If you happen to be a swing voter who’s considering the Republican slate next month, you’re being tricked. That’s not to say you’re an idiot, but the Republicans are doing an excellent job masking over what they really stand for, and millions of Americans seem to be falling for it.

The Republican strategy for this midterm election is simple: Treat voters like easily manipulated hoopleheads. The GOP and its various apparatchiks are spending untold millions of dollars, much of it from anonymous donors and, perhaps, even some illegal foreign donors, in order to play out this nationwide swindle. They’re investing heavily on the wager that Americans are so kerfuffled by the slow-growth (but growth nevertheless) economy that they’re willing to buy any line of nonsense as an alternative solution.

Regarding that nonsense, just about every GOP solution and every GOP idea reveals either a hilariously obvious contradiction or an utterly transparent hypocrisy. Say nothing of unchecked awfulness like Southern Strategy race-baiting or bald-faced lies. But it doesn’t seem to matter much because they’ve buried most of it under heaping piles of inchoate outrage and fear. Just like always. It’s not unlike the 2000s all over again. They’re engaging in the same bumper sticker sloganeering and myopic agitprop, but with updated content for 2010.

If you’ve seen any of the Republican TV spots this cycle, you’re probably familiar with the focus-group-tested duet of fear: “Obamacare and Stimulus.” For example, that infamous John Raese commercial featuring two not-West-Virginian West Virginians in full “hicky” regalia discussing why they’re voting Republican. Among the reasons: “Obamacare and Stimulus.” No specific reasons why those items are evil, they’re just two scary things the hicky guys are pissed about.

And why aren’t there any specific gripes cited along with those two items? Because the actual gripes are ridiculous.

Let’s start with “Obamacare,” then hit “Stimulus” presently.

The Republicans are trying to tell us that the health-care-reform bill is a hugely expensive trespass against freedom and liberty. This obviously refers to the price tag and the individual mandate. What they don’t mention is that “Obamacare” will actually achieve several very significant goals.

1) The health-care-reform bill will help working and middle class Americans to afford quality health insurance via hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies. For example, families of four earning $54,000 will see their insurance premiums reduced by around $10,000 per year. That’s a lot. Who in their right mind would turn down a government check for $10,000? Every year. That’s a full semester of state university tuition, among other things.

2) Contrary to the “Obama-is-spending-too-much” meme, the bill does not increase the deficit. According to the nonpartisan CBO, the bill cuts the deficit by $130 billion over ten years. Put another way, all that scaremongering about the cost of the bill is just that: scaremongering. The bill pays for itself and then some.

3) There are no enforcement mechanisms for the super-duper terrifying individual mandate. If you choose not to buy insurance when the mandate takes effect in 2014, and are consequently fined $695, there is no means of actually enforcing the payment of that penalty. No liens, levies, no jail, no Obamacare Goons swooping into your house like America-hating Kenyan ninjas. Nothing will happen to you. Nothing. So, you know, chill out about the mandate.

The question about “Obamacare,” then, is very simply: Why are the Republicans against reducing the deficit by $130 billion, and why are they against more accessible and affordable healthcare? I have no idea, other than they’re taking the childish opposite position of what was passed (despite the deficit reduction and subsidies for the middle class, etc.). Oh, and they call it “Obamacare,” which is spooky and one letter away from being “Osamacare.” Scary, but entirely without substance.

Oh, and speaking of the deficit, the Republicans are lying to voters about the Democratic handling of the deficit as well. It turns out the Democrats and the Obama administration cut the deficit this year. Cut it. The 2009 Bush-approved budget was $1.416 trillion and the 2010 Obama-approved budget was $122 billion less. Meanwhile, the Republicans are admitting to increasing the deficit by $4 trillion by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. And they won’t say what they plan to cut from the budget in order to pay for it. Once again, we’re back in the early Bush years with so-called fiscal conservatives engaged in big, irresponsible spending without any way to make up the shortfall.

Actually, the only spending cuts that appear to be on the table are the Social Security checks, the Medicare reimbursements and the veteran’s benefits that will stop when the Republicans gleefully shut down the government. (Any senior citizen who votes Republican is voting for their Social Security and Medicare checks to stop — indefinitely. Just thought I’d mention that.)

Circling back, it’s important to repeat: President Obama and the congressional Democrats cut the deficit. Fact: The first Obama budget was billions less than the final Bush budget. And, in the process, President Obama’s policies have pushed the DJIA from 6,000 to 11,000; his policies have turned Bush-era job losses into job creation; and pulled the nation from the brink of another Great Depression.

Again, why are the Republicans against all of this?

By the same token, why are they against the stimulus? They really won’t say other than to screech about how expensive it was. But, before we go further, read the paragraph about the deficit again. The Democrats cut the deficit. And then factor into the mix that $288 billion out of the $800 billion cost of the recovery act was composed entirely of tax cuts. Tax cuts! As a matter of history and taken as a lump sum, this was the largest American middle class tax cut ever. So it’s not a stretch to suggest that the Republicans are suddenly against the largest middle-class tax cut in American history.

Despite the attempt to turn a derivation of the positive word “stimulate” into a negative, there’s very little about the stimulus that actually sucked, other than the fact that it wasn’t big enough. Beyond that, Republican voters need to ask themselves if the tax cuts were bad — or maybe was it the new roads and infrastructure that helped to create jobs, or was it the money that was spent to keep the states out of bankruptcy and police, teachers and firemen from losing their jobs? What’s awful about any of that?

Then they need to ask themselves why Republican politicians like Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), along with dozens of other Republicans, actually petitioned and received from the Obama administration millions in stimulus dollars? Some of them evenposing with giant novelty stimulus checks and literally campaigning on the wads of money they received from the stimulus. Pete Sessions, in fact, wrote to Secretary Ray LaHood and emphasized that the funds would literally “stimulate the economy” in his district. Naturally, Sessions turned around and campaigned against the stimulus. He thinks you won’t notice.

Elsewhere, Newt Gingrich and others are trying to deceive voters by insisting that it’s “liberal math” for an investment to earn a return — for, say, a one dollar investment to grow into $1.74. Since when do Republicans believe that wise investments are “liberal math?” Specifically, Newt was talking about government spending on food stamps as a means of stimulating the economy. Based on simple math, one dollar in government money spent on food stamps creates $1.74 in economic stimulus, according to Moody’s. Why? Because food stamps help Americans to buy things. Whereas the Bush tax cuts, for example, are a poor investment, only earning 32 cents for every dollar spent. Why? Because rich people tend to save their tax cuts rather than pumping that money into the marketplace.

Back to our refrain: Why are the Republicans against smart investing?

Yeah, Obamacare and the Stimulus. Destroying America from within, right?

It’s worth noting here that this same Republican deception runs across other issues as well. Republicans are suggesting they’ll protect individual liberty, while shrinking government small enough to fit into your bedroom or your uterus. Or they’re running on the Constitution, while also having their hired thugs handcuff and detain a reporter in a flagrant violation of the First Amendment. Hell, some Republicans are running for U.S. Senate while opposing the 17th Amendment that established popular elections of senators. Wrap your head around that one.

Sure, there are still many things the Democrats have yet to unravel after 30 years of Reaganomics. But, despite their obvious faults, they’re moving in that direction. And they’re being as honest as politicians can be with their intentions. The Republicans, meanwhile, are running on some sort of Mobius Loop of backwards logic and flimsy, if not totally destructive, policy positions.

With less than two weeks to go, the sooner voters wise up to this Republican flimflam, the better off we’ll all be.

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