Thursday, April 7, 2011

TEA PARTY: “Shut it down!” On the eve of government shutdown and more

Tea Party member Rep Mike Pence (R-IN)

 Which side doesn't want government shutdown?


First, congratulations to JoAnne Kloppenburg (D) of Wisconsin for defeating David Prosser (R) in the Wisconsin Supreme Court elections.  In what is the creepy practice of electing judges, Kloppenburg stunned Wisconsin by recovering from a thirty point deficit in the primaries.  As of now, with 100% of the precinct reporting, Kloppenburg has a 204 point advantage.  This one will probably go to a recount, the first recount in Wisconsin in decades.  

Also, in the Milwaukee County Executive election, Chris Abele (D) destroyed Jeff Stone (R), also commonly referred to as “Scott Walker’s Twin,” by 22 points.    When asked about the election results, Scott Walker said that in Milwaukee, the county was “deep blue,” even though the previous person to hold that seat was in fact Scott Walker.  He also stated that there were "two very different worlds in this state. You've got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else out across the majority of the rest of the state of Wisconsin." 

Yeah, that means that there is you and there is everybody else.  Why won’t you listen to your constituents?  You are basically admitting that you don’t care what the voters think.  It’s no surprise that people are attributing this stunning victory to Scott Walker’s recent budget proposal, which strips unions of collective bargaining rights.  

Walker likes to say limiting these rights is about the budget because Wisconsin is broke…so broke that he can afford to hire a republican state senators mistress to a high profile job and hire his top corporate lobbyist’s son to another.  The son he hired is a college dropout and has two DUI’s.  The job, in which he has no experience or qualifications for, pays $81,500 of tax payer’s money a year.   The other top two candidate’s resumes were slightly better.  Candidate A has a PhD and two master’s degrees.  This candidate also served as the state cabinet secretary.  Candidate B is currently a chemical engineer that has served as acting administrator since 2003.  I am sure the decision was a tough one.

Impending government shutdown and more after the break…

It is now becoming clear to most Americans that this budget battle is more about ideology for republicans, at least the tea party members, than it is about the deficit and continuing progress.  I find it funny that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), will not agree to what democrats have put on the table.  After all, the $33B dollars in cuts is what he initially asked for, and that is what the democrats gave him.  Now he is demanding $61B in cuts.

Unfortunately for Boehner, he is being manipulated by the tea party.  Now Boehner is demanding another $12B in cuts to keep the government running for one more week.  Fortunately, democrats have had enough, and it seems that they will not tolerate any more cuts.

There seems to be a divide now within the tea party.  Tea party leader Michele Bachman (R-MN) seems to finally be caving a bit.  Reports say that she might be willing to compromise off of the $61B, with the speculation being that she may agree to $40B in cuts, but others are not so willing, like tea party member Mike Pence (R-IN) who says “Shut it down!”

Rep Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told Lawrence O’Donnell that he might settle for less but is more wanting to show his constituents how much he got by wanting the extreme $61B in cuts.  When he was asked about Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) proposal to halt congressional pay and to not receive back pay if government shuts down which passed the senate by unanimous consent, he replied it was unconstitutional and that he was a strict constitutionalist.  If that were the case, how come he didn’t vote “no” on the highly unconstitutional bill proposed by Rep Eric Cantor (R-VA) in which stated that a bill could become a law without senate or presidential approval?  It seems as if greed is just an innate attribute of tea party members.

If republicans don’t start compromising, devastating effects on middle class households and the economy are bound to happen.  Soldiers will not get paid; 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed; IRS refunds will be suspended; FHA loans will not be guaranteed; Passports will be unprocessed; Jobless benefits will be suspended.  We cannot afford this with our economy finally recovering.

All democrats are asking is to meet them halfway, to compromise for America’s sake.  They democrats control 2/3 of the parts of government that are involved right now.  They control the senate and the presidency.  Why are they trying to act like god’s of legislature in the house?  In a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal, 37% of Americans would blame republicans if government shut down and 20% would blame democrats.  As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, the republicans need to stop campaigning and start governing.
That statement was also indicative of the riders the republicans want.  Riders have nothing to do with balancing the budget.  The money is being cut, so why can’t republicans accept that?  Some of the riders that republicans are pushing for are limiting funding to NPR, the EPA, Planned Parenthood, and the implementation of the health care law.

An even bigger fight is looming.  Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) revealed his “Path to Prosperity” on April 1.  A closer look at this “path” reveals a plan full of wrong numbers and skewed facts.  Ryan had the audacity to claim that his plan would reduce unemployment to 2.8%, citing the Heritage Foundation for his research.  When Ryan claimed this, the Heritage Foundation quickly removed that finding from their website.  It is to note that the Heritage Foundation is the same organization that did the study for the Bush tax cuts, in which they projected that the cuts would create 1.6M jobs.  We now have 1.72M fewer jobs.

The Medicare version of the plan, which is called the Rivlin-Ryan Plan, is dangerous for seniors.  Alice Rivlin, a democrat who worked under President Clinton, told politico magazine that when she talked to Ryan, she said, “I can’t support the version that you have in the budget.”  It is clear that Ryan just wanted to use a democratic woman to stamp on his plan.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that, under this plan, debt would increase over the next ten years.  They also found that killing Medicare would force the elderly to pay the majority of their income into healthcare.  The CBO stated, “beneficiaries participating in the new premium program would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the current program.”  By 2030, seniors would pay $20,000 out of pocket for health care.

Ryan also tries to make his plan look better than it really is.  He claims his plan will cut the deficit by $6.2T over the next decade.  What he fails to mention is the fact that President Obama’s budget plan already called for the same cuts of almost $2T in money to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 2/3 of his Ryan’s proposed cuts come from low income programs.  Robert Greenstein, president of the CBPP, claims that this is a conservative estimate.  Greenstein states that Medicaid would take a $1.4T hit, hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies to help modest income households buy health insurance would be eliminated, $127B would be cut for the food stamp program, and all of these would come alongside of massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Urban Institute, Brookings Tax Policy Center finds that making the Bush tax cuts permanent, as the Ryan plan would do, would provide an annual tax cut of over $125,000 to people making over one million dollars a year.  Greenstein states that this doesn’t even account for the huge estate tax giveaway for the richest estates in the country, which Ryan would also make permanent.  Ryan’s plan as a whole creates $4.3T in budget cuts and $4.2T in regressive tax cuts.

This is not about the deficit; it is about ideology.  This plan would call for the greatest transfer of resources in modern history by the America government from the bottom part to the top part.  It’s not about the budget; it’s about a cause.  Somebody has to pay for that 10% tax break for the rich.  This is just the republicans trying to move the center of debate further to the right.

But this is good in a way.  The plan is out there.  This could be a huge political mistake for Ryan and the republicans.  His plan is full wrong numbers, he is killing Medicare, he fails to address the people who still have no health coverage, and he doesn’t address rising medical costs.  American’s see this and they do not like it.  Polls indicate that American’s want a more progressive plan, but the American agenda is not the republican agenda, as Walker made clear in his "Madison and the rest" comment.

A poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows the following:

Government should do more:  51% yes
Don’t cut social security:  77% yes
Don’t cut Medicaid:  67% yes
Don’t cut Medicare:  76% yes
Raise taxes on millionaires:  81% yes

I know everyone needs to feel the pain.  I know we need entitlement reform, but there is plenty of money in the private sector too.  The tax code is out of control and republicans still want to lower the corporate tax rate.  Americans clearly want a more progressive agenda.  They are showing this more and more as republicans continue to try to shove their agenda down our throats.  The people are not standing for this.  What is becoming clear is that the movements need to start in the states, not DC.  The recent grassroots movements in the states is where change is happening and where the fight is taking place.  The people are holding these politicians accountable through recalls, referendums, and progressive primaries.  I encourage you all to become a part of this.  Whether you are democrat or republican or somewhere else, hold your local, state, and federal politicians accountable for their actions.

The coming months should be interesting…


  1. "First, congratulations to JoAnne Kloppenburg (D) of Wisconsin for defeating David Prosser (R) in the Wisconsin Supreme Court elections."

    Oops . . ..

  2. Haha, yeah... What are you going to do? I updated the post accordingly as soon as the news broke. Thanks for the comment!