Trump’s Anti-Muslim Proposal Puts GOP In A Bind

Source:National Memo

Author: Mark Z.Barabak

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump may be an imperfect candidate — he is coarse, impetuous, antagonistic — but he presents the Republican Party with a perfect dilemma.

For the second straight day, the world of politics was consumed with Trump’s latest provocation, a call for a near-blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, underscoring the billionaire’s continued sway over his adopted party, its presidential candidates and the GOP agenda.

Many Republican were quick to denounce the proposal though, notably, not its progenitor, fearing a backlash should Trump become the party’s eventual nominee. He, is after all, the leader in opinion polls and a favorite of many voters disgusted with more guarded, standard-issue politicians.

“This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday … is not what this party stands for,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday after a meeting with GOP House members on Capitol Hill. “And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Other members of the Republican establishment weighed in with criticism as well, including party leaders in three of the earliest-voting states, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa.

“As a conservative who truly cares about religious liberty, Donald Trump’s bad idea and rhetoric send a shiver down my spine,” Matt Moore, head of the South Carolina Republican Party, wrote on Twitter.

Jennifer Horn, leader of the New Hampshire GOP, called Trump’s proposal “un-American” and “un-Republican.”

But the condemnations went only so far, as Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Republicans vowed to support Trump, whatever their qualms, should he emerge as the GOP’s standard-bearer.

Even Jeb Bush, who called Trump “unhinged” for proposing a religious test on newcomers as a way to fight terrorism, declined to back off an earlier pledge of support.

“Look, he’s not going to be the nominee,” the former Florida governor insisted when pressed by reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

What, then, was his message to Trump supporters? “I’d love for them to consider my candidacy,” Bush replied.

The exchange captured the quandary that the GOP and its presidential hopefuls have faced ever since Trump bulldozed his way into the race: How to distance themselves from his inflammatory statements without alienating Trump supporters, or provoking him into a ruinous third-party run should he fall short of the nomination.

“A new poll indicates that 68 percent of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent,” Trump posted on Twitter, citing a Suffolk University poll, as Tuesday’s chorus of Republican criticism grew.

The message, in characteristic Trump fashion, was as subtle as a kick in the shins.

Unabashed, he seized on the furor he created — and the wall-to-wall cable news coverage that followed — to defend his exclusionary plan and brush aside detractors.

“You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it. Many, many more and probably beyond the World Trade Center,” Trump said in a CNN interview, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On MSNBC, he said barring followers of the Islamic faith from the U.S. would be as easy as authorities asking them at entry points about their religious affiliation “They would say, ‘Are you Muslim?’” Trump explained.

He cited the precedent set during World War II when the U.S. government investigated people of German and Italian ancestry, and ordered those of Japanese descent to be locked away in internment camps.

“You certainly aren’t proposing internment camps?” asked host Joe Scarborough.

“We’re not talking about Japanese internment camp,” Trump responded. “No, not at all.”

Such distinctions aside, Democrats happily piled on the Republican front-runner and his extraordinary response to the terror attacks on Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., a counter to President Barack Obama’s call to avoid targeting all members of the Muslim faith.

Trump’s emergence comes at a critical time for the GOP, which has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

The party’s political base of older whites is aging out of the electorate and Republicans have struggled to appeal to the growing ranks of younger and minority voters, a task that grows more difficult each time Trump gives offense to one ethnic or religious group or another.

While entertaining for some, I and many worry about the long-term damage (among) younger voters, African-American voters, Hispanic voters, working-class voters,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist and political adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “He’s managing to alienate a little bit of everybody.”

Reed, whose focus is congressional contests, expressed concern that Trump atop the presidential ticket could undermine Republicans senators facing tough races in Nevada, Ohio and New Hampshire, which could determine control of the Senate after 2016.

He is not alone.

In a private memo recently quoted in The Washington Post, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee outlined a number of strategies for candidates to follow in the event Trump — “a misguided missile” — won the party’s nomination.

“Let’s face facts,” Ward Baker, the head of the committee, wrote his senior staff. “Trump says what’s on his mind and that’s a problem. Our candidates will have to spend full time defending him if that continues. And that’s a place we never, ever want to be.”

His counsel included urging candidates to mind their campaigns and avoid attacks on Trump, lest they backfire on the GOP.

Not all, however, were given to such restraint.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a presidential hopeful who has frequently tangled with the Republican frontrunner, offered his succinct view in an interview on CNN.

“You know how you make America great again?” Graham said, appropriating his rival’s signature campaign slogan. “Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”

(Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons of the Tribune Washington Bureau and Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.)

©2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

See:http://www.nationalmemo.com/trumps-anti-muslim-proposal-puts-gop-in-a-bind/

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

 

Is the Tea Party Over?

The answer all depends on what you mean when you say the words ‘Tea Party.’

From:AlterNet

In a word, “No!”  In many words:

By:Adele Stan

“There’s a new parlor game in your nation’s capital, played by reporters and pundits who begin with a single question: Is the Tea Party dead? Endlessly entertaining to ponder, it’s a question whose answer depends on your definition of the Tea Party movement.

Are you talking about the 900 grass-roots Tea Party groups in 2010 whose numbers have now dwindled to 600? Or the popularity of the movement among most Americans?

Or do you measure the “Tea Party” as a marketing plan by the right wing in its 50-year quest to bend the Republican Party to its will and bring the nation to its knees?

Miss Uncongeniality

The new year kicked off with a poll that brought a smile to progressive faces: Rasmussen Reports, the Republican-tilting polling firm, found membership in the Tea Party movement among likely voters to have plummeted [3] to a mere 8 percent. That’s a steep drop from 2010 when, just after the passage of the health-care reform law, Rasmussen reported 24 percent of respondents calling themselves Tea Party members.

Even worse for those who don the tricorn hat is Rasmussen’s finding [3] that half of the likely electorate now views the Tea Party unfavorably, while only 30 percent express a favorable opinion of the movement. So, game over, right?

Not quite. The day after Rasmussen released its numbers, Roll Call, a sort of trade publication for political types, ran a story [4] with the title, “Tea Party Re-Flexes Its Muscle,” about the coming battles in Washington over the debt ceiling and spending, and fearsome threats by Tea Party groups to Republicans who dare to compromise with the president.

Muscle-Flexing or Rigor Mortis?

The difficulty in assessing the viability of the Tea Party movement lies in a range of available metrics that are in conflict with each other.

In the 2012 Senate races, the Tea Party failed pretty miserably, throwing its weight behind such self-immolating figures as Todd “legitimate rape” Akin and Richard “gift from God” Mourdock.

Yet, in the House, most of the Tea Party members elected to Congress in 2010 held onto their seats. One need only look at the fate of legislation floated by House Speaker John Boehner — a measure dubbed “Plan B” that would have extended the Bush-era tax cuts on all but those with an annual income of more than $1 million — to see the power of the Tea Party crowd under the Capitol dome.

How can it be that a movement rejected by 70 percent of the electorate continues to hold such power? The answer is two-fold: gerrymandering and the threat of the primary challenge.

Primary Punishment

There’s little doubt that the Tea Party movement is a bit of a mess these days, with grassroots activists sometimes shunning the label [4], while the astroturf groups that organized them grapple with internal tension.

FreedomWorks, until recently chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is riven by internecine warfare between Armey and two staffers who functionally run the organization: President Matt Kibbe and Vice President Adam Brandon. (Mother Jones has the goods, here [5].) FreedomWorks was instrumental in organizing protests against the health-care reform bill, and in delivering a “power center,” in Brandon’s own words, of Tea Party-allied lawmakers to the Senate in 2010, through the power of the primary challenge. When FreedomWorks chose Rand Paul to challenge Trey Grayson in the Kentucky Republican primary for U.S. Senate, its candidate defeated the pick of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, in his own state.

Americans For Prosperity, the other major player on the Tea Party landscape and the pride of right-wing sugar daddies Charles and David Koch, is said to be in reassessment mode after the failures of the 2012 elections. Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel and Katie Glueck report [6] that:

…sources say AFP’s 2012 efforts, in which it spent $140 million on a combination of ads and on-the-ground organizing, are being reviewed as part of a broader Koch-network-wide audit that could result in funding changes in the billionaire brothers’ political operation [7].

Yet in the same article, Vogel and Glueck note that although AFP has reportedly let go of much of its field staff, Tim Phillips, the group’s president, says he is considering involving the group more explicitly in primary races.

While FreedomWorks, Americans For Prosperity and Tea Party Express are the national groups that come to mind when discussing the Tea Party, there’s another player less wed to the brand that is at least as responsible for the primary-challenge strategy that has given the movement its primary punch: the Club for Growth.

On the day after the 2012 election, four glum-looking right-wing leaders gathered before a podium at the National Press Club at the behest of Richard Viguerie, an old hand at fundraising for right-wing movements.

In his opening remarks, Viguerie repeatedly used language that wed the Tea Party to the broader conservative movement, and disparaged what he called “the Republican establishment” for lining up behind Mitt Romney as the party’s nominee.

“Far from signalling a rejection of the Tea Party or grassroots conservatives, the disaster of 2012 signals the beginning of the battle to take over the Republican Party and the opportunity to establish the GOP as the party of small government and constitutional conservatism,” Viguerie said.

As evidence of his movement’s strength, Viguerie listed a number of Tea Party-allied Republican politicians, including the newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Rep. Trey Radel of Florida. Of the 14 pols cited by Viguerie as proof of Tea Party/conservative muscle, only one, Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, was elected without backing from the Club for Growth.

A recent article [8] by Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen reveals the Club’s role in electing what the cohort dubbed “the hell no caucus” by the reporters, by directing its largess to contested Republican primaries, and betting on the most conservative contender. From Politico [8]:

Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, a veteran of two wars and with a pair of Harvard degrees, got a pleasant surprise last year that helped him win a very competitive Republican primary — and then a very easy general election. It was a FedEx envelope full of checks that he didn’t ask for, from a group he hardly knew — the Club for Growth.

Tucked inside that envelope and several to come were $300,000 in checks from Club members, enough to help lift the 35-year-old former Army captain from obscurity — and 47 percentage points down in his first internal poll — to the fourth floor of the Cannon House Office Building.

Among the right-wing leaders who spoke at the Viguerie press conference was L. Brent Bozell III, who was careful to note that he appeared not in his guise as president of the Media Research Center (the post for which he is best known), but as the chairman of ForAmerica, his political advocacy organization. At the National Press Club event, Bozell articulated an agenda, characterized as mandatory for any Republican, crafted in language that appeared to come directly from Club for Growth literature — especially the austerity plan described as “cut, cap and balance” (meaning, cut and cap spending, and balance the federal budget).

In case Mitch McConnell missed the horse’s head at the foot of his bed when his hand-picked Senate candidate was vanquished by Rand Paul in the 2010 primary, Bozell’s group is now running ads [9] accusing the Senate’s top Republican of “selling out,” according to a report [9] by Amanda Terkel in the Huffington Post, for signing on to the deal that allows the Bush-era tax cuts to expire on the incomes of wealthy taxpayers.

The Redistricting Ruse

The gerrymandering of congressional districts is nothing new, and both parties do it. But with record numbers of governors’ mansions and state legislatures in G.O.P. hands — the result of decades of work by the organized forces of the right — and the ruthlessness with which Republicans have shown themselves willing to manipulate the vote, the ritualredrawing of districts [10] that follows the national census resulted in landscape so skewed that Republicans held onto a majority of seats in the House of Representatives even though Democrats won the majority of votes by a margin of 1.1 million [11].

In North Carolina, for example, it would have taken three times as many votes for a Democrat to win a House seat as it did for a Republican, according to this chart [12] by Mother Jones’ Jaeah Lee.

With congressional districts drawn in such hyper-partisan ways, each uber-Republican congressional district becomes such a festering little petri dish of intramural competition at primary time that the launching of a primary challenge is not such a heavy lift, especially if the Club for Growth sends you a FedEx mailer full of checks. The primary becomes the real contest, since the districts are drawn to comprise mostly people who would never vote for a Democrat, meaning that these districts are made up of the most rightward-leaning voters — low-hanging fruit for a right-wing primary challenger.

In this way, I’ve argued before, the right wing of the G.O.P. acts as a virus on the body politic, injecting its DNA into the host body of the Republican Party which, thanks to the combination of extremely partisan redistricting and the willingness of a right-wing minority within to attack party leaders, then spreads the malicious effects of the virus on the rest of the nation.

A Brew By Any Other Name...

When the Tea Party first emerged on the scene, celebrated as a bright, shiny new object by the corporate media, we at AlterNet were not taken in. This was nothing more, we said, than a new brand stamped on the same movement once known as the New Right, a force that first made its presence felt in the failed 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, and reached a crescendo in the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.

Take Viguerie, for example. In 1961, he served as the first executive secretary of William F. Buckley’s Young Americans for Freedom, and by 1965 had launched his first strategic marketing firm for the right. He went on to help found the religious right in the late 1970s, after failing to win the presidential nomination of George Wallace’s American Independence Party.

Instrumental in helping Reagan win the presidency through his prowess as a direct-mail marketer, Viguerie became known as Reagan’s “postmaster general.” Also instrumental in Reagan’s victory was the organizing of white, right-wing Christian evangelicals through the Moral Majority, a group Viguerie helped to found.

On September 11, 2009, the day before the Tea Party movement first took to the streets of Washington in a show of force, Viguerie was already on the scene, in a Washington, D.C., hotel meeting room, conducting a free workshop in political organizing for Tea Partiers who had come to town for the march. Attendees were given a bright yellow nylon drawstring sack emblazoned with the “Don’t Tread on Me” snake of the Gadsden flag, and a free copy of Viguerie’s book, America’s Right Turn.

He’s just one of many right-wing leaders who saw the potential of the early Tea Party protests as a rebranding vehicle for the right. Dick Armey, sitting at the helm of FreedomWorks, surely did, as did Americans for Prosperity’s Tim Phillips, the former business partner of Ralph Reed, who served as executive director of the Christian Coalition during that group’s heyday. And a PAC once known as America Deserves Better renamed itself the Tea Party Express.

So, is the Tea Party dead? The brand itself may be on the wane, but the forces that made it strong have not gone away. After all, there’s money to be made in consulting fees and big-ticket salaries at the top of the right’s non-profits. (Sen. Jim DeMint recently left the U.S. Senate to take the top post at the Heritage Foundation, where he will reportedly earn $1 million per year.)

And there’s still work to be done in purging the Republican Party of any politician who might wish to strike a deal on anything that might be beneficial to the broadest base of the American electorate — work that Viguerie and his allies have been doing for the last half-century.

“The battle to take over the Republican Party begins today, and the failed Republican leadership should resign,” Viguerie said at his press conference the day after the American people re-elected President Barack Obama. “But of last night’s disaster comes some good news, however; conservatives are saying never again are we going to nominate a big-government, establishment Republican for president. And what’s more, we won’t have to.”

Call it the Tea Party, or call it something else, the right has gotten its hooks into the body politic, and it’s not letting go anytime soon.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/tea-party-over?akid=9921.123424.4wXQ84&rd=1&src=newsletter776253&t=4

 

Why Rising Gas Prices Could Backfire on the GOP in November

If Republican strategists think they can reverse their fortunes by focusing on the gas price debate, the odds are good they will be wrong.”

From: HuffPost

By: Robert Creamer

“Eight months before the fall elections, Republican strategists are in a dour mood.

  • The economy has begun to gain traction.
  • Their leading candidate for president, Mitt Romney, is universally viewed as an uninspiring poster child for the one percent, with no core values anyone can point to except his own desire to be elected.
  • Every time Romney tries to “identify” with ordinary people he says something entirely inappropriate about his wife’s “two Cadillacs,” how much he likes to fire people who provide him services, or how he is a buddy with the people who own NASCAR teams rather than the people who watch them.
  • The polls show that the more people learn about Romney, the less they like him.
  • The Republican primary road show doesn’t appear to be coming to a close any time soon.
  • Together, Bob Kerrey’s announcement that he will get into the Senate contest in Nebraska and the news that Olympia Snowe is retiring from the Senate in Maine, massively increase Democratic odds of holding onto the control of the Senate.
  • The Congress is viewed positively by fewer voters than at any time in modern history — and two-thirds think the Republicans are completely in charge.
  • Worse yet, the polling in most presidential battleground states currently gives President Obama leads over Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

The one thing Republican political pros are cheering right now is the rapidly increasing price of gas at the pump and the underlying cost of oil.

The conventional wisdom holds that if gas prices increase, it will inevitably chip away at support for President Obama — and there is a good case to be made. After all, increased gas prices could siphon billions out of the pockets of consumers that they would otherwise spend on the goods and services that could help continue the economic recovery — which is critical to the president’s re-election.

But Republicans shouldn’t be so quick to lick their chops at the prospect of rising gas prices.

Here’s why:

1). What you see, everybody sees. The sight of Republicans rooting against America and hoping that rising gas prices will derail the economic recovery is not pretty.

The fact is that Republicans have done everything in their power to block President Obama’s job-creating proposals in Congress, and they were dragged kicking and screaming to support the extension of the president’s payroll tax holiday that was critical to continuing economic momentum.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell actually announced that his caucus’ number one priority this term was the defeat of President Obama. The sight of Republicans salivating at the prospect of $4-plus per gallon gasoline will not sit well with ordinary voters.

2). Democrats have shown that they are more than willing to make the case about who is actually responsible for rising gas prices — and the culprits’ footprints lead right back to the GOP‘s front door.

Who is really to blame for higher gas prices?

  • The big oil companies that are doing everything they can to keep oil scarce and the price high;
  • Speculators that drive up the price in the short run;
  • Foreign conflicts, dictators and cartels — that have been important in driving up prices particularly in the last two months;
  • The Republicans who prevent the development of the clean, domestic sources of energy that are necessary to allow America to free itself from the stranglehold of foreign oil — all in order to benefit speculators and oil companies.

The fact is that the world will inevitably experience increasing oil prices over the long run because this finite, non-renewable resource is getting scarcer and scarcer at the same time that demand for energy from the emerging economies like China and India is sky rocketing.

Every voter with a modicum of experience in real-world economics gets that central economic fact.

That would make Republican opposition to the development of renewable energy sources bad enough. But over the last few months the factor chiefly responsible for short-term oil price hikes have been the Arab Spring and Israel’s growing tensions with Iran — all of which are well beyond direct American control.

But with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, any idiot knows we can’t make ourselves materially more energy independent solely by drilling for more domestic oil. In fact, it is obvious that to have any hope of controlling the prices we pay for energy in the future, we must free ourselves from the dependence on oil in general and foreign oil in particular.

We need an emergency “all of the above” energy independence program that accesses all of the domestic sources of oil that can be developed in an environmentally safe way – plus a major investment in renewable, clean energy sources that free us from dependence on oil – and especially foreign oil.

President Obama has proposed a big first step in exactly that direction, and the Republicans have answered: “Hell no — drill baby drill.”

If they are forcefully challenged by Democrats this year — as I believe they will — that Republican position is simply laughable.

Domestic drilling has increased substantially under President Obama’s administration. And our dependence on foreign oil imports has gone down every year of his presidency. The president has put in place new mileage standards for cars that will save massive amounts of potential oil imports — standards that Republicans have opposed for decades.

But that fact remains, that for all his administration can do on its own to increase energy independence, it is impossible to free America from the stranglehold of foreign oil dependency without the kind of massive national commitment to domestic, renewable energy that must be passed by Congress. The Republicans have said “no” because their biggest energy patrons — the oil companies — oppose a crash program to create renewable energy sources for one simple reason. Every day that we fail to act, the value of their oil goes up — it’s that simple.

If you doubt that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are bought and paid for by Big Oil — just ask the infamous Koch brothers — who finance major Republican “super Pacs” — how much they stand to make personally every time the long-term price of a barrel of oil increases by another dollar.

Simply put, the Republicans have put the profits of their patrons in Big Oil well above the economic and national security interests of the United States of America.

The Republicans even continue to do everything in their power to block the elimination of the astonishing taxpayer subsidy of the oil industry, that continues notwithstanding the fact that big oil companies are more profitable today than any other companies in the history of humanity. And the Republicans do it all the while they blather on about how if we once again install them in the White House, they will bring us $2 a gallon gasoline.

Whoever is pushing those kinds of lines must be studying the techniques of the late, famous circus impresario, P.T. Barnum, who famously said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

But in fact, polling shows that American voters simply are not so gullible that they buy either of these preposterous positions.

3). Speculators. A final contributing factor that has recently amplified increases in gas and oil prices is the role of speculators.

In a purely competitive market, oil prices should settle in the long run at the marginal cost of producing the next barrel of oil — currently between $60 and $70 a barrel. Oil closed last week at about $106 per barrel and ran up to twice the marginal cost of production during the Bush era 2008 oil spike.

Currently about 80% of positions on oil commodity markets are held by “pure speculators” — who bet on changes in oil prices — rather than “end users” who actually consume oil and use the markets to hedge against price increases.

Academic studies have demonstrated that there is a big speculative premium in oil prices, above and beyond any “risk premium” that might normally develop from fear of some immediate, short-term shortage. That speculative premium could be materially dampened if steps were taken to limit the market’s domination by pure speculators.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill — which was opposed by most Republicans in Congress and all of their presidential candidates — allows the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to limit the percentage of market positions held by pure speculators as opposed to end users.

Already the CTFC has position limits on the percentage of positions that can be held by individual companies or investors to prevent one from cornering the market. Many economists have proposed imposing similar position limits on pure speculators as a class.

Ordinary voters don’t like speculators. But far from supporting limits on speculation, Mitt Romney wants to go back to the “good old days of yesteryear” where wild, unbridled speculation led to the worst economic collapse in 60 years and costs eight million Americans their jobs.

None of this is good politics for Republicans.

Voters don’t want to be held hostage by the big oil companies or foreign oil. They don’t want to have their pockets picked by oil market speculators. They understand that when world oil prices go up, it benefits oil-state dictators: it’s like allowing Iran’s Ahmadinejad to levy a tax on American consumers. And voters sure as hell don’t want to pay a taxpayer subsidy to oil companies like Exxon that made more in profits in one minute last year (about $85,000) than the average American worker earns all year long.

If Republican strategists think they can reverse their fortunes by focusing on the gas price debate, the odds are good they will be wrong.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partnersand a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.


Emphasis Mine

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GOP Confusion Over the First Amendment

What many Americans seem to have forgotten is that the Great Middle Class wasn’t a natural outgrowth of the nation’s economic system; it was the creation of the federal government and especially the New Deal. After the Great Depression – brought on largely by vast income inequality and rampant stock speculation – President Franklin Roosevelt launched the New Deal, pitting the federal government against the titans of business.

From: RSN

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

“To state what should be obvious but is apparently not, liberties – even those cited in the Bill of Rights – are not absolute and indeed many liberties that Americans hold dear are inherently in contradiction. Since the nation’s founding, it has been a key role of government to seek out acceptable balances in this competition of interests.

It also would be illegal under federal law to hack into a person’s cell phone as Rupert Murdoch’s media empire did in Great Britain. In the United States, there is a constitutional expectation of some personal privacy.

Similarly, you can make the claim that the Second Amendment gives you the right to have a gun for self-protection, but you’d be on a lot shakier ground if you insisted that your “right to bear arms” justified your possession of a surface-to-air missile or a tactical nuclear bomb. Then, the competing right of others in society to expect a reasonable level of safety would trump your weapons right.

Churches, too, were afforded broad protections under the Bill of Rights, but they still must abide by civil laws. For instance, a religion that practices pedophilia or polygamy or fundraising fraud cannot simply assert a blanket right under the First Amendment to do whatever it wants.

Yet, today we’re being told by the Right that religious liberty is boundless and that any moral or religious objection by an employer against giving an employee some specific health benefit trumps the employee’s right to get that medical service. In other words, the religious freedom of the employer should trample the rights of the employee who may have a different moral viewpoint.

A compromise from President Barack Obama on whether a religious-owned institution can deny women employees access to contraceptives in health plans (Obama shifted the costs for that coverage directly to the insurance companies) has failed to satisfy the Catholic bishops who continue to protest the plan as an infringement on their religious dogma against birth control, although many other Catholic groups have praised Obama’s compromise.

In this campaign year, Republicans have denounced Obama’s plan as an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri proposed an amendment that would allow any employer to cite a moral objection in denying insurance coverage for any medical service. That raised the prospect that some owner who, say, considers AIDS a judgment from God against immoral behavior could exclude that expensive coverage for employees.

Appeals to the Founders

On the Senate floor on Thursday – as his proposal was facing a narrow defeat – Blunt said “this issue will not go away unless the administration decides to take it away by giving people of faith these First Amendment protections.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky claimed to be speaking for the nation’s Founders: “It was precisely because of the danger of a government intrusion into religion like this one that they left us the First Amendment in the first place, so that we could always point to it and say no government – no government – no president has that right. Religious institutions are free to decide what they believe, and the government must respect their right to do so.”

The Blunt amendment also tapped into the “hate-government” message of the Tea Party, that “guv-mint” shouldn’t be imposing regulations that impinge on “liberty,” either for individuals or the states. But these propaganda themes rely on a revisionist founding narrative of the United States, pretending that the Founders opposed a strong central government and wanted a system of states’ rights and unrestrained personal liberty.

This narrative – pushed by Tea Partiers and libertarians – always skips from the Declaration of Independence of 1776 to the U.S. Constitution of 1787, while ignoring the key government document in between, the Articles of Confederation, which was in force from 1777 to 1787. The Articles represent an inconvenient truth for the Right since they created a system of a weak central government with independent states holding almost all the cards.

Key Founders, such as Virginians George Washington and James Madisonregarded the Articles as unworkable and dangerous to the nation’s survival. They decided to reshuffle the deck. So, in 1787, operating under a mandate to propose amendments to the Articles, Washington, Madison and others engineered what amounted to a coup against the old system. In secret meetings in Philadelphia, they jettisoned the Articles and their weak central government in favor of the Constitution and a strong central government.

Madison, the Constitution’s chief architect, was also the author of the Commerce Clause, which bestowed on the central government the important power to regulate interstate commerce, which many framers recognized as necessary for building an effective economy to compete with rivals in Europe and elsewhere.

Fooling the Tea Partiers

Today’s Right leaves out or distorts this important chapter because it undercuts the message that is sent out to the Tea Partiers – that they are standing with the Founders by opposing a strong central government. This propaganda has proved to be a very effective way to deceive ill-informed Americans about what the true purpose of the Constitution was.

The Founders also spoke and wrote frequently about the necessity of trading off some liberty for a functioning society. Contrary to the Right’s founding myth, the Founders were not absolutists for liberty (beyond the obvious fact that many were slaveowners); they had read the works of political philosophers who recognized that civilization required some constraints on individual actions.

The Founders also were mostly practical men who wanted a vibrant and successful nation – recognizing that only such a country could protect the independence that had just been won at a high price in blood and treasure. To make the Founders into caricatures of religious zealotry, who would place the dogma of any religion over the decisions of individual citizens, is a further distortion of what the leading framers were thinking at the time.

Some of Madison’s key allies in the fight for the Constitution and later enactment of the Bill of Rights were Virginian Baptists who believed fiercely in the separation of church and state. Thus, the First Amendment begins by prohibiting establishment of an official religion before barring interference in religious practices. Nothing in the First Amendment says churches are exempt from civil law or that the government must help them impose their doctrines on citizens.

So, what is this coordinated attack on the federal government really all about? Clearly, the Right does not truly care about Americans having freedom of conscience on religious matters. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be seeing all these attacks on women’s access to contraception and abortion services. The Right has no compunction against intruding on the religious beliefs of those women.

Demonizing the New Deal

Which gets us to the key point about the orchestrated hostility toward any action by the U.S. government when its supports the welfare of the average American. What we are watching is a class war – as billionaire Warren Buffett has rightly noted –and that the wealthy are winning. As part of that war, the wealthy and their operatives have developed what might be called a “united front” against government, with poorer Americans drawn in by the so-called “cultural issues.

The wealthy understand that in the absence of government intervention on behalf of common citizens, nearly all power would accrue to corporations and to the rich. The average American would become, at minimum, a second-class citizen with far fewer meaningful rights and, in some ways, a virtual slave to the powerful.

What many Americans seem to have forgotten is that the Great Middle Class wasn’t a natural outgrowth of the nation’s economic system; it was the creation of the federal government and especially the New Deal. After the Great Depression – brought on largely by vast income inequality and rampant stock speculation – President Franklin Roosevelt launched the New Deal, pitting the federal government against the titans of business.

The New Deal’s goal was to spread the wealth of the country more equitably by legalizing unions and investing public funds in building the nation, while simultaneously reining in reckless financial practices and restraining the power of the rich. Inevitably, that meant intruding on the “liberty” of the wealthy to do whatever they wanted. It meant allowing workers to engage in collective bargaining and to strike. It meant imposing higher taxes on the rich so the national infrastructure could be expanded and modernized.

Those efforts grew in the post-World War II era with veterans benefiting from the GI Bill to go to college and buy homes. And later, with projects like the Interstate Highway system, which sped goods to markets, and the Space Program, which spurred technological advances. Even more recently, the government-created Internet introduced dramatic growth in productivity.

These innovations generated great national wealth – and combined with high marginal tax rates on the rich – created a much more equitable society, both economically and politically. But many of the rich never accepted the social contract implicit in the New Deal, that all Americans should share in the nation’s bounty and that a strong middle class was good for everyone, including fair-minded businessmen who benefited from larger markets for their products.

Instead, many rich Americans wanted to keep their money for themselves and to pass it on to their progeny, creating what would amount to an aristocracy, a class that would essentially own and govern America. Of course, they couldn’t exactly express it that way; they had to dress up their greed in different clothing. After all, even the dumbest American wasn’t likely to sign on to a program for restoring the Gilded Age under an unrestrained financial system that had led to the Great Depression.

The rich had to sell their new era of plutocratic dominance as a “populist movement,” essentially as “liberty” from government. The national government, in particular, had to be transformed from the defender of the middle class and the promoter of a broad-based prosperity into an oppressor holding back “enterprise” and restricting “freedom.”

That required building a powerful propaganda megaphone with angry voices blaring out messages that exploited the frustrations of average Americans. Instead of blaming the rich for shipping jobs overseas and for eroding middle-class incomes, the villain had to become the “guv-mint.” The answer had to be giving money and power back to corporations and their allies.

In some ways, the Blunt amendment fits into this pro-corporate philosophy (albeit with a religious twist of empowering the Catholic Church’s hierarchy as well as company bosses with moral qualms). The GOP plan would have transferred even more power to employers over their employees’ lives, down to their choices of medical services.

The Senate rejected the Blunt amendment, 51-48, but Republicans vowed to make it an issue in the presidential campaign.”


For more on related topics, see Robert Parry’s “Lost History,” “Secrecy & Privilege” and “Neck Deep,” now available in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, “Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush,” was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, “Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq” and “Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth'” are also available there.

For instance, the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, but not to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The press is protected, but that does not mean that newspapers can do whatever they want. If they print malicious lies against a citizen, they can be subject to libel laws – because it is accepted that people also need some protection against losing their reputations unfairly.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/10255-gop-confusion-over-the-first-amendment

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