Why the Hate-Filled, Retrograde Politics of the Tea Party Are Here to Stay

The Tea Party is not a movement, it’s a geographical region: the Old South.

Source:Alternet

Author: CJ Wehleman

N.B.: To triumph over the Tea Party, we must win the message war!

“After last Tuesday’s creaming in the Virginia governor’s race, and with Tea Party negatives creeping toward 75 percent, the political punditry class has divided itself into one of two camps: those celebrating the demise of the Tea Party versus those forecasting its inevitable end. Who’s right? They’re both wrong, because it’s not a movement. It’s a geographical region, and if history has taught us anything, southern folk are a pugnacious bunch.

Despite political feel-good rhetoric, there are two Americas. Not just ideologically, but geographically. That’s what still makes this country unique among other Western democracies. America is two distinct nations with a distinguishable border that runs the breadth of the country from the Mason-Dixon line across the southern border of Pennsylvania, finishing in some Baptist church somewhere in rural Texas.

The Tea Party is overwhelmingly Southern. Michael Lind, author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States, writes, “The facts show that the Tea Party in Congress is merely the familiar old neo-Confederate Southern right under a new label.” If you include Texas as a member of the Old South (banning tampons from the state house earns the Lone Star state that honor), nearly 80 percent of the Tea Party’s support comes from the former Confederate states. So, stop calling it a movement.

The Republican Party is not only the party of plutocrats and oligarchs; it’s also the party of the South. The party’s leaders are predominantly southern. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. House Speaker John Boehner is from Cincinnati, Ohio, but Cincinnati is as close to the South as a northern city can be, given the city’s airport is actually in Kentucky. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is from Virginia. ‘

And then there are the likely 2016 presidential hopefuls. With the exception of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and the pathologically homophobic Rick Santorum, the rest of them are as southern as Colonel Sanders. Rand Paul is from Kentucky. Bobby Jindal is from Louisiana. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are from Florida.

While movements and ideas may die, a land mass does not, and while that southern land mass is occupied by a people who are willing to destroy the country in order to get their way, and while the GOP remains dependent on its “Southern strategy,” the South’s fixation on everything related to controlling race, sex, religious practice, abortion laws, and dismantling the federal government will remain the revolutionary fervor of not only the Tea Party but also the GOP.

The trend lines in America are moving against the South thanks to increasing urbanization, the “browning of America,” and the declining place for religion in American life. These are great challenges to the South’s way of life, and southerners don’t like it. So don’t expect one governor’s race in an off-year election to read as an obituary for the Tea Party. As much as the media and the GOP establishment would like you to believe Chris Christie, a moderate only by Tea Party standards, to be the presumptive nominee, the neo-Confederates are more likely to pick a gay atheist from San Francisco.

The GOP’s most agitated and mobilized voting bloc is its predominantly southern evangelical base. In their minds, they’ve experimented with non-Southern “moderates” in the form of John McCain and Mitt Romney, and they got trounced. The base gets its cues from Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, all of whom are juicing the base for a “severely conservative” 2016 candidate. Thus a northern governor who supports climate change, evolution, immigration and gun control will likely be sacrificed on the altar of southern radicalism—a fate realized by one former northern mayor in 2008, Rudy Giuliani.

The South, and by association the GOP, sees America increasingly through the prism of race. It’s central to their worldview. In 2012, 92% of the Republican vote came from white people who, within the next three decades, will no longer be in the majority. Despite losing the gubernatorial race, Ken Cuccinelli received more than 70% of the white vote. White southern voters view entitlements and immigration reform as liberal programs to buy votes. They believe food stamps and healthcare are an effort to take money from hard-working white people, and in turn, redistribute it to lazy black people. When Reagan spoke about a “welfare queen,” he didn’t need to mention her race. White southern voters had already painted a picture in their own minds.

In his seminal Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, Chuck Thompson writes:

The unified southern resistance to every initiative from any “liberal” administration has deep historic roots. The persistent defiance of every Democratic attempt to deal intelligently with national problems—be they recession, debt, or childhood obesity—has nothing to with political ideology, taxes, healthcare, or acceptable degrees of federal authority. It has everything to do with nullification, disruption, zealotry, and division. It’s part of a time-sharpened effort to debilitate nearly every northern-led government by injecting it with the Seven Deadly Sins of Southern Politics: demagogic dishonesty, religious fanaticism, willful obstructionism, disregard for own self-interest, corporate supplication, disproportionate influence, and military adventurism.

The next Republican Party presidential nominee will need to speak to these white southern fears and attitudes. Given that Civil War hostilities ended more than 150 years ago, and given the GOP is now backed by unprecedented levels of campaign finance thanks to Citizens United, don’t fool yourself into thinking the Tea Party strain of Republicanism is going away anytime soon. It’s more likely they’ve only just arrived.

CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America and God Hates You, Hate Him BackFollow him on Twitter @cjwerleman.

Emphasis Mine:

See: http://admin.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/why-hateful-politics-tea-party-isnt-going-anywhere-hint-its-region-us?akid=11133.123424.w5CfWK&rd=1&src=newsletter922618&t=5

 

Why Aren’t Ayn Rand’s Wealthy “Job Creators” … Creating Jobs?

The myth of the wealthy “job creator” has been used for years to underscore a harmful vision of capitalism.

From AlterNet, by John Paul Rollert

 “With the announcement last Monday of President Obama’s plan to pay for his jobs bill with, among other things, the so-called “Buffett Rule,” we’re going to be hearing a lot more about the “job creators.” Over the last year, Congressional Republicans have consistently invoked them as a hex of sorts against any proposal to raise new tax revenue. “I am not for raising taxes in a recession,” Eric Cantor declared last November, when the Bush tax cuts were a bargaining chip in the protracted budget debate, “especially when it comes to the job creators that we need so desperately to start creating jobs again.”

Ten months, no new taxes, and one debt ceiling crisis later, Cantor said the same thing last week in response to the president’s jobs bill: “I sure hope that the president is not suggesting that we pay for his proposals with a massive tax increase at the end of 2012 on job creators that we’re actually counting on to reduce unemployment.” Given that 44 percent of the nation’s unemployed have been without work for at least six months and more Americans are living below the poverty line than at any time in the last 50 years, one marvels at Cantor’s faith in the truant “job creators” as well as his forbearance in the face of human misery. To the jobless, he is counseling the patience of Job.

But who exactly are these “job creators?” The phrase is not new. Republicans have been using it for years to underscore a particular vision of capitalism in which those who have benefitted most by the system are also most essential to its continued success. As long ago as 1991, Newt Gingrich characterized Democratic opposition to a cut in the capital gains tax as evidence that liberals reject this vision. “They hate job creators,” he told a gathering of Senate Republicans, “they’re envious of job creators.  They want to punish job creators.” With no apparent sense of irony, Gingrich added this was proof liberals “believe in class warfare.”

A more telling example for our current political impasse is the debate over the 1993 Clinton budget plan, which aimed to cut the deficit by, among other things, raising the top income tax rate. Congressional Republicans fought the bill tooth and nail, no one more so than former Texas Senator Phil Gramm. On the eve of its passage, he expressed the hope that the bill would “defy history” and prove that “raising taxes on job creators can promote investment and promote job creation.” Gramm, of course, did not think this was very likely to happen. “Only in Cuba and in North Korea and in Washington, D.C., does anybody believe that today,” he said, “but perhaps the whole world is wrong.”

Hindsight suggests that the world wasn’t wrong so much as Phil Gramm, along with every other Republican member of Congress. Not one of them voted for the bill, which cleared the House by only two votes and required Al Gore’s tie-breaking vote in the Senate. While higher taxes on the “job creators” proved no obvious hurdle to economic growth — the economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in U.S. history — it did cut the deficit from $290 billion when Clinton took office to $22 billion by 1997 and helped put the country on a projected path to paying off the national debt by 2012.

So much for ancient history. If the term “job creators” is no new addition to the lexicon of American politics, it has enjoyed quite a renaissance since President Obama took office. A Lexis-Nexis search of U.S. newspapers and wire services turns up 1,082 individual mentions of “job creators” in the month before the debt ceiling deal was reached, or just 175 fewer mentions than for George W. Bush’s entire second term.

Jon Stewart, for one, did not fail to notice the uptick. “Republicans are no longer allowed to say that people are rich,” he noted during the deficit ceiling debate, “You have to refer to them as ‘job creators.’” Stewart’s observation is funny only to the extent to which you believe that saying you’re a member of the top tax bracket and saying that you create jobs is not an obvious redundancy. If you believe, however, that the cast of Jersey Shore has just as much claim to being called “job creators” as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, then Stewart’s joke not only falls flat, but misses the point. The wealthy are the “job creators,” whether or not they spend their time actually trying to create jobs.

The problem, of course, with upholding a definition of “job creators” that does not turn on the dedicated effort to create jobs is that it becomes hard to figure out what distinguishes the “job creators,” as a group, from everyone else — at least beyond their relative wealth. All Americans spend, save, and invest in varying degrees; most just do so with a lot less money.

In this light, the “jobs creators” rhetoric highlights a theory of capitalism in which those at the very top of the economic pyramid end up supporting the base. We might call this theory the Visible Hand of Capitalism in order to distinguish it from Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. In The Wealth of Nations, he famously located the enduring success of capitalism in an increasingly complex system of work and exchange that sees “the assistance and co-operation of many thousands.” In such a society, no single group can be meaningfully called the “job creators.” They are as much the managers of capital as the men on the factory line.

As an intellectual matter, the Visible Hand of Capitalism has enjoyed support from figures as disparate as Destutt de Tracy, the French philosopher and economist whom Thomas Jefferson championed, to the steel baron and indefatigable philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. As a rhetorical matter, however, the phrase “job creators” appears to come directly from the work of Ayn Rand. She favored the term “creators” to describe an elite caste in society and her highest human ideal.

John Boehner made reference to Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s most famous novel, in a speech he gave recently to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. “Job creators in America are essentially on strike,” he said, in an obvious nod to the decision by the “creators” in the novel to go on strike in defiance of an intrusive federal government. The nation immediately begins to falter, and the books concludes with its hero, John Galt, giving a marathon address in which he explains to the rest of the country why America is crumbling. The nation, in brief, has scared away the very people who keep the economy working, leaving behind those who are ill-equipped to fend for themselves. Describing the economic and social theory underpinning this vision, Galt says:

In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.

For all that it lacks in human decency, Rand’s vision of who makes capitalism work at least has the advantage of isolating a group of people who actually create something. By contrast, the current “job creators” rhetoric seems to elevate a group of people whose shared tax bracket is their only outstanding trait.

As the debate over the president’s jobs bill takes shape, the “job creators” rhetoric is certainly deserving of a little more scrutiny, especially by those who don’t qualify for the distinction. Otherwise, they might as well accept the judgment of a far greater authority than even John Galt:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

John Paul Rollert is a doctoral student at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His essay, “Does the Top Really Support the Bottom? – Adam Smith and the Problem of the Commercial Pyramid,” was recently published by The Business and Society Review.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/152574/why_aren%27t_ayn_rand%27s_wealthy_%22job_creators%22_…_creating_jobs?page=entire

Ten things the GOP Doesn’t want you to know about the debt!

the inconvenient truth that the nation’s mounting debt is largely attributable to wars, a recession and tax policies put in place under his party’s watch.

From perspectives see:http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/002215.htm

(N.B.: the author of this blog observes that the correct way to describe the results under each POTUS administration is to add the qualifying word ‘administration’  (and perhaps the definite article ‘the’) to each usage, e.g.: the Clinton administration – the POTUS signs laws passed by both houses.)

“Just two weeks after he seconded Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s dire warnings about the August 2 deadline to raise the U.S debt ceiling, House Majority LeaderEric Cantor walked out of the budget talks aimed at reaching a bipartisan compromise over deficit reduction. Like Arizona GOP Senator Jon Kyl, Cantor shifted the burden to Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell and President Obama to “get over this impasse on taxes.”

For his part, McConnell promised that no deal to end the GOP’s hostage taking of the U.S. economy will include tax hikes. But while McConnell boasted that “If they couldn’t raise taxes when they owned the government, you know they can’t get it done now,” left unsaid was the inconvenient truth that the nation’s mounting debt is largely attributable to wars, a recession and tax policies put in place under his party’s watch.

Here, then, are 10 things the GOP doesn’t want you to know about the debt:

  1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a “Financial Disaster”
  2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
  3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
  4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
  5. Federal Taxes Are Now at a 60 Year Low
  6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn’t Pay for Themselves or Spur “Job Creators”
  7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
  8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling – Repeatedly
  9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
  10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid

1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a “Financial Disaster”
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty are among the GOP luminaries who have joined the ranks of what Dana Milbank called the “default deniers.” But you don’t have to take Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s word for it “that if Congress doesn’t agree to an increase in the debt limit by August 2, the United States will be forced to default on its debt, potentially spreading panic and collapse across the globe.” As it turns out, Republican leaders (and their big business backers) have said the same thing.

In their few moments of candor, Republican leaders expressed agreement with Tim Geithner’s assessment that default by the U.S. “would have a catastrophic economic impact that would be felt by every American.” The specter of a global financial cataclysm has been described as resulting in “severe harm” (McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi), “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world” (Senator Lindsey Graham) and “you can’t not raise the debt ceiling” (House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan). In January, even Speaker John Boehner acknowledged as much:

“That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on election day said, ‘we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.’ And you can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.”

2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
Among the Republicans who prophesied the default doomsday scenario was none other than conservative patron saint, Ronald Reagan. As he warned Congress in November 1983:

“The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar.”

Reagan knew what he was talking about. (N.B. Really?  Only by accident). After all, the hemorrhage of red ink at the U.S. Treasury was his doing.

As most analysts predicted, Reagan’s massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-setting debt. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous “rosy scenarios.”

Forced to raise taxes eleven times to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It’s no wonder Stockman lamented last year:

[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.”

It’s no wonder the Gipper cited the skyrocketing deficits he bequeathed to America as his greatest regret.

3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
Following in Reagan’s footsteps, George W. Bush buried the myth of Republican fiscal discipline.

Inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast for a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Bill Clinton. Bush’s $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a $550 billion second round in 2003, accounted for the bulk of the yawning budget deficits he produced. (It is more than a little ironic that Paul Ryan ten years ago called the tax cuts “too small” because he believed the estimated surplus Bush eviscerated would be even larger.)

Like Reagan and Stockman before him, Bush resorted to the rosy scenario to claim he would halve the budget deficit by 2009. Before the financial system meltdown last fall, Bush’s deficit already reached $490 billion. (And even before the passage of the Wall Street bailout, Bush had presided over a $4 trillion increase in the national debt, a staggering 71% jump.) By January 2009, the mind-numbing deficit figure reached $1.2 trillion, forcing President Bush to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion.

4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
“Reagan,” Vice President Dick Cheney famously declared in 2002, “proved deficits don’t matter.” Not, that is, unless a Democrat is in the White House.

As Donny Shaw documented in January 2010, Republican intransigence on the debt ceiling only began in earnest when Bush left the White House for good.

The Republicans haven’t always been against increasing the federal debt ceiling. This is the first time in recent history (the past decade or so) that no Republican has voted for the increase. In fact, on most of the ten other votes to increase the federal debt limit that the Senate has taken since 1997, the Republicans provided the majority of the votes in favor.

As it turns out, Republican majorities voted to raise the U.S. debt ceiling seven times while George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office. (It should be noted, as Ezra Kleindid, that party-line votes on debt ceiling increases tied to other legislation is not solely the province of the GOP.) As ThinkProgress pointed out, during the Bush presidency, the current GOP leadership team voted 19 times to increase debt limit. During his tenure, the U.S. national debt doubled, fueled by the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the Medicare prescription drug plan and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Mitch McConnell and John Boehner voted for all of it and the debt which ensued because, as Orrin Hatch later explained:

“It was standard practice not to pay for things.”

5. Federal Taxes Now at a 60 Year Low
Even as Vice President Biden leads bipartisan negotiations to trim at least $1 trillion from the national debt, Republican leaders faithfully regurgitate the refrain that tax increases are “off the table.” In one form or another, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and just about every other conservative mouthpiece parroted Speaker John Boehner’s line that:

“Medicare, Medicaid – everything should be on the table, except raising taxes.”

Which purely by the numbers (if not ideology) is an odd position to take. After all, as a percentage of the U.S. economy, the total federal tax bite hasn’t been this low in 60 years.

As the chart representing President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal above reflects, the American tax burden hasn’t been this low in generations. Thanks to the combination of the Bush Recession and the latest Obama tax cuts, the AP reported, “as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.” In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explained that “revenues would be just under 15 percent of GDP; levels that low have not been seen since 1950.” That finding echoed an earlier analysis from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last April, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded, “Middle-income Americans are now paying federal taxes at or near historically low levels, according to the latest available data.” As USA Today reported last May, the BEA data debunked yet another right-wing myth:

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Or as former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett explained it this week the New York Times:

In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010. Yet if one listens to Republicans, one would think that taxes have never been higher, that an excessive tax burden is the most important constraint holding back economic growth and that a big tax cut is exactly what the economy needs to get growing again.

6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn’t Pay for Themselves or Spur “Job Creators”
That Republican intransigence persists despite the complete debunking of two of the GOP’s favorite myths.

The first tried and untrue Republican talking point is that “tax cuts pay for themselves.” Sadly, that right-wing mythmaking is belied by the massive Bush deficits, half of which (as the CBPP chart in section 3 above shows} were the result of the Bush tax cuts themselves. As a percentage of the American economy, tax revenues peaked in 2000; that is, before the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Despite President Bush’s bogus claim that “You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase,” Uncle Sam’s cash flow from individual income taxes did not return to its pre-dot com bust level until 2006.

The second GOP fairy tale, as expressed by Speaker Boehner, is that “The top one percent of wage earners in the United States…pay forty percent of the income taxes…The people he’s {President Obama] is talking about taxing are the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy.”

If so, the Republican’s so-called “Job Creators” failed to meet those expectations under George W. Bush. After all, the last time the top tax rate was 39.6% during the Clinton administration, the United States enjoyed rising incomes, 23 million new jobs and budget surpluses. Under Bush? Not so much.

On January 9, 2009, the Republican-friendly Wall Street Journal summed it up with an article titled simply, “Bush on Jobs: the Worst Track Record on Record.” (The Journal’s interactive table quantifies his staggering failure relative to every post-World War II president.) The dismal 3 million jobs created under President Bush didn’t merely pale in comparison to the 23 million produced during Bill Clinton’s tenure. In September 2009, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee charted Bush’s job creation disaster, the worst since Hoover:

As David Leonhardt of the New York Times aptly concluded last year:

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.

7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
Looking at that dismal performance, Leonhardt rightly asked, “Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?” At a time ofrecord income inequality which saw the incomes of the richest 400 Americans taxpayers double even as their tax rates were halved, that’s a fair question to say the least.

For Paul Ryan and the Republican Party, the answer is simple: because we said so.

As Ezra KleinPaul Krugman and Steve Benen among others noted, the House Republicans “Plan for America’s Job Creators” is simply a repackaging of years of previous proposals and GOP bromides. (As Klein pointed out, the 10 page document “looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.”) At the center of it is the same plan from the Ryan House budget passed in April to cut the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25%.

The price tag for the Republican proposal is a jaw-dropping $4.2 trillion. And as Matthew Yglesias explained, earlier analyses of similar proposals in Ryan’s Roadmap reveal that working Americans would have to pick up the tab left unpaid by upper-income households:

This is an important element of Ryan’s original “roadmap” plan that’s never gotten the attention it deserves. But according to a Center for Tax Justice analysis (PDF), even though Ryan features large aggregate tax cuts, ninety percent of Americans would actually pay higher taxes under his plan.In other words, it wasn’t just cuts in middle class benefits in order to cut taxes on the rich. It was cuts in middle class benefits and middle class tax hikes in order to cut taxes on the rich. It’ll be interesting to see if the House Republicans formally introduce such a plan and if so how many people will vote for it.

We now know the answer: 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators.

8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling – Repeatedly
Largely overlooked in the media coverage of the Republican debt ceiling hostage drama is this: those 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators who supported Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget bill voted to add $6 trillion to the U.S. national debt over the next decade. And that means, as Speaker John Boehner acknowledged, Republicans now and in the future would have to increase the debt ceiling – repeatedly.

Of course, you’d never know that based on the incendiary rhetoric from the leading lights of the Republican Party and their right-wing echo chamber. Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) said his vote to bump up the debt ceiling would come at the cost of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, “the last time we’re doing it.” His South Carolina colleague Jim Demint threatened to filibuster the increase, even if it meant the GOP’s “Waterloo.” The number two House Republican Eric Cantor (R-VA) regurgitated that line, telling Democrats the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.” For his part, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan insisted, “We won’t raise, just simply raise, the debt limit,” adding, “We will vote to have spending cuts and controls in conjunction with the debt limit increase.” As giddy right-wing bloggers like Patterico described the right-wing’s scorched earth strategy:

If Republicans are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling — and not to do so will indeed cause financial chaos — they have to extract concessions sufficient that they can credibly say: this is the last such vote we will ever have to have.

Sadly, as Ezra Klein of the Washington Post explained last month, “Republicans can’t meet their own deficit and spending targets.” The Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, slash and convert Medicaid into block grants, and deliver another tax-cut windfall for the wealthy nevertheless “blows through both their spending and debt caps”:

House Republicans voted to make the Ryan budget law. But the Ryan budget includes $6 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years, which means that to become law, the Ryan budget would require a substantial increase in the debt ceiling. But before the Republicans agree to increase the debt ceiling so that the budget they passed can become law, Republicans are demanding the passage of either a balanced budget amendment that would make the Ryan budget unconstitutional or a spending cap that the Ryan budget would, in certain years (and if you’re using more realistic numbers, in all years), exceed.

It’s no wonder Klein’s Washington Post colleague Matt Miller deemed the Republican budgetary horror story “The Shining – National Debt Edition” before concluding that Boehner’s “awe-inspiring hypocrisy on the debt limit” is one of those moments of “political behavior that can only be dubbed Super-Duper Hypocrisy So Brazen They Must Really Think We’re Idiots.”

9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
“President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying,” the New York Times’ David Leonhardt explained in 2009, adding, “The economic growth under George W. Bush did not generate nearly enough tax revenue to pay for his agenda, which included tax cuts, the Iraq war, and Medicare prescription drug coverage.” That fall, former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett offered just that kind of honesty to the born again deficit virgins of his Republican Party. Noting that the FY2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion was solely due to lower tax revenues and not increased spending, Bartlett concluded:

“I think there are grounds on which to criticize the Obama administration’s anti-recession actions. But spending too much is not one of them. Indeed, based on this analysis, it is pretty obvious that spending – real spending on things like public works – has been grossly inadequate. The idea that Reagan-style tax cuts would have done anything is just nuts.”

Which is exactly right. Thanks to the steep recession, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others have documented time and again, the overall federal tax burden as a percentage of GDP is now down to levels not seen since Harry Truman was in the White House. (The two-year tax cut compromise in December didn’t help any, adding $400 billion to the deficit this year and next.) But is the Bush tax cuts themselves, which Republicans want to make permanent and then (as the Ryan budget mandates) lower further, which account for much of the revenue drain into the future.

As a recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed, over the next decade the Bush tax cuts account for more of the nation’s debt than Iraq, Afghanistan, TARP, the stimulus, and revenue lost to the recession combined:

10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid
Over the next ten years, the costs of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will decline as the U.S. commitments there come to an end. But almost ten years, 6,000 U.S. dead and over a trillion dollars after the attacks of September 11, it’s time to pay for our wars.

In May, the National Journal estimated that the total cost to the U.S. economy of the war against Al Qaeda will reach $3 trillion. In 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economistJoseph Stiglitz put the price of the Iraq conflict alone at $3 trillion.

But by 2020 and beyond, the direct cost to U.S. taxpayers could reach $3 trillion. In March, the Congressional Research Service put the total cost of the wars at $1.28 trillion, including $806 billion for Iraq and $444 billion for Afghanistan. For the 2012 fiscal year which begins on October 1, President Obama asked for $117 billion more. (That war-fighting funding is over and above Secretary Gates’ $553 billion Pentagon budget request for next year.)

But in addition to the roughly $1.5 trillion tally for both conflicts through the theoretical 2014 American draw down date in Afghanistan, the U.S. faces staggering bills for veterans’ health care and disability benefits. Last May, an analysis by the Center for American Progress estimated the total projected total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ health care and disability could reach between $422 billion to $717 billion. Reconstruction aid and other development assistance represent tens of billions more, as does the additional interest on the national debt. And none of the above counts the expanded funding for the new Department of Homeland Security.

But that two-plus trillion dollar tab doesn’t account for the expansion of the United States military since the start of the “global war on terror.” As a percentage of the American economy, defense spending jumped from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.8% last year. While ThinkProgress noted that the Pentagon’s FY 2012 ask is “the largest request ever since World War II,” McClatchy explained:

Such a boost would mark the 14th year in a row that Pentagon spending has increased, despite the waning U.S. presence in Iraq. In dollars, Pentagon spending has more than doubled in 10 years. Even adjusted for inflation, the Defense Department budget has risen 65% in the past decade.

Even as the World Trade Center site was still smoldering, Republicans insisted Al Qaeda represented an existential threat to the United States. President Bush repeatedly compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor and his war on terror to World War II. But he never asked Americans to join the military or sacrifice at home. Instead, Bush told us to go shopping and “get down to Disney World.”

From a public policy standpoint, post-9/11 America in no way resembles FDR’s response to Pearl Harbor. George W. Bush was the first modern president to cut taxes during wartime. Barack Obama was the second.

Its time, as Bernie SandersAl Franken and the Congressional Progressive Caucus each proposed, to begin paying for the unfunded conflicts fought in our name.”

Emphasis Mine

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

The House voting to ‘repeal’ the health care insurance reform laws.  Since this shameless pandering to some of their base will have no legislative impact, we can keep the benefits we have already gained, including adding sons and daughters of up to age 26 to our family plans, free check-ups and diagnostic procedures, and help for those in the Medicare Part D coverage gap.