FROM today, 1AUG13, I am not posting entire articles to this page, just links to the articles which are posted on my blog. Exceptions will be extremely large articles / series, and will be so noted. So click the links to view any of the articles after today, prior to today, the past full articles added to this page on 4JAN13, are below.
This Study Said the South Is More Racist Than the North & The Formula & Maps Behind the Voting Rights Act 25&22JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/this-study-said-south-is-more-racist.html / Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a "30 Front War" 25JUL13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/inside-groundswell-read-memos-of-new.html / The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. We must act now. 27JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-supreme-court-gutted-voting-rights.html / Bob Cesca - Supreme Court Helps the GOP Revive the Era of Jim Crow 27JUN13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/bob-cesca-supreme-court-helps-gop.html / Michele Bachmann decries “huge national database” run by IRS with "personal, intimate" details 15MAI13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/michele-bachmann-decries-huge-national.html / Tom Coburn says after national park gun ban lifted, violent crime fell by 85 percent 9MAI13 http://bucknacktssordidtawdryblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/tom-coburn-says-after-national-park-gun.html
VIDEO: Paul Ryan's Version of "47 Percent"—the "Takers" vs. the "Makers" 5OKT12 / Todd Akin In 2008: Doctors Give Abortions To Women Who Aren't Pregnant & Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 2OKT12&19AUG12 /Paul Ryan: "Let's Make This Country a Tax Shelter" (VIDEO) /Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States 22SEP11 / Why do the Koch brothers want to end public education? & How the Koch Brothers Funded Public-School Segregation 19 & 15AUG11 /Asked If Bank Of America Paying Nothing In Corporate Taxes Is Fair, Pawlenty Responds: Taxes Are ‘Too High’ 2MAR11 /12 Examples of Stunning Hypocrisy from Tea Party Republicans In One Short Month 3FEB11
This is the Birch Society, not the populist Tea Party from 2009.
Effectively, based on "Fiscal Cliff" votes and the changeover to 2013, we have three distinct caucuses in the House of Representatives:
-- Regular Democrats (now 201 Members)
-- Business Republicans (84 Members)
-- Birch Society Republicans (150 Members)
Birchers are anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-compromise, and opposed to taxes in all forms and appearances. The Bircher billionaires' agenda is not the mainstream Republican businessmen's agenda.
The Koch family helped found the John Birch Society. They have financed Birchers since 1984 and remain the prime backers for these Bircher Republicans. They assure that JBS ideological slogans and xenophobic paranoia define Bircher campaigns.
Bircher infiltration of the Republican Party (1984-2004 and 2010) is covered in comments from our Jim P and others. As well an array of pro-Birch Society comments from ernie1241 are worth the price of admission by themselves.
Meanwhile President Obama has set about playing off the House's Bircher and Business Republicans against each other. Significantly, Obama has timed his alternating "Cave"/"No Cave" messages during "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations to maximize the Bircher schism.
Email: Business Republicans are now a minor party at 19% of the House.
For more on the emergence of the Birchers as a political party, read on below le chignon d'orange.
Nationally these Bircher Republicans show up pushing traditional John Birch Society positions, often using language that goes back decades. These positions range from eliminating use of fluoride in drinking water to opposing the teaching of evolution to anti-communism and anti-Islam to cutting off use of non-real estate tax revenues to help educate minority students.
Their public statements and the language of the Bills they pass in the House of Representatives fall far outside the bounds of mainstream Bush or Reagan or Eisenhower Republicanism. Still, JBS approved candidates began to achieve success as early as 1984. They replaced normal conservative Republicans steadily through 2004 and then made further inroads in 2010.
The official Tea Party Caucus has 60 members. Hard core Birchers show up with approximately 150 votes on key issues.
Large sums of money flow into some 250 congressional races. The propaganda arm of this movement has centered, in recent years, on Freedomworks. Dick Armey, Jack Kemp, C. Boyden Gray, Bill Bennett, Matt Kibbe, and Steve Forbes served as the familiar right wing mavens. Koch money goes for such as $10 million worth of campaign paraphernalia bearing modernized JBS slogans.
Bircher Republicans say, increasingly, that they are willing to shut down the day-to-day operations of the federal government, to default on debt payment, and to freeze all actions in Congress. Pursuit of the Bircher billionaires' agenda is what matters.
You would be hard pressed to find one elected national-office Democrat who is on board for the main elements of the Bircher agenda. Sixteen Democrats voted against this recent fiscal deal, but none of them are Birchers. (Alan Grayson in Florida helped fund Peg Dunmire. She served as an unwitting False Flag candidate, presenting as a Bircher-Fascisti. She attracted racist voters from a mainstream Republican opponent.)
A typical Bircher Republican reaction to the "Fiscal Cliff" vote is provided by Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina:
"We have not cut spending. In fact, the one place we were supposed to cut spending was on the sequester [and associated measures.] But that got delayed. So our question as conservatives is, when are we going to start this battle over spending? We've waited two years now. We're not going to wait much longer."Background The Birchers have run the country to the edge of default and over this "fiscal cliff." What does it take to make a political "battle" in their eyes?
The goals you see in their slogans are difficult to translate to law, except for fighting taxes:
· Honor the Constitution · Reduce the size and intrusiveness of the governmentOf course they oppose any and all jobs bills. Their ideas for traditional values run to bigotry, gun-nut fantasies, and a Pax Americana global militarism. They demonstrate no awareness of the management issues that underlie the big long-term budget issues. They never say a word about the Big Buck problems: medical expenses for chronic care and elderly disabled patients; the "mission creep" that has driven military spending since the Korean War; and our failure to keep up America's infrastructure of bridges, anti-drought reservoirs, and the like.
· Stop raising taxes
· No more bailouts or crony capitalism
· Repeal Obamacare
· Cease out-of-control spending
· Reduce the national debt
· Bring back American prosperity and jobs; and as noted by spud1,
· Restore traditional American values
"No awareness" is the key. Bircher candidates go out of their way to maintain Know Nothing status. At public events they refuse to answer questions. They never publish position papers or endorse professional work that establishes planned-and-budgeted government policy alternatives.
They like prayer. They do not like government action. And that is the prime drive of 150 Members of this 2013 session of the House of Representatives.
Essentially they are hostile to democracy, which for the United States of America developed from the sceptical, reality-testing premises of the Enlightenment. Here is the text, written by Gouverneur Morris as head copywriter of the 1787 "committee of style" (supporting the legal work of James Madison), that set forth our core goals and named the country:
Preamble to the Constitution We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.These Birch Society Republicans oppose large-scale government actions that would either "establish Justice" or "promote the general Welfare." They would stop at setting up police and sufficient schools to turn out some number of students with passable literacy. They were perfectly willing to go to the barricades to eliminate a simple CDC program to get rid of poisonous lead in the environment. The lead is thorooughly documented as poisonous. It affects millions of children. The Birchers would have none of it for federal lead abatement.
They are careful to keep their analysis statements to one-liner slogans. Here are the slogans that win top place in one of their polls:
· Dear President Obama, Did They Accept Our Apologies? · It Is When People Forget God That Tyrants Forge Their Chains (Patrick Henry)Apart from references to Soros and Obama, this could be the 1950s Birch Society. "Quanity" is a misspelling. Might have been done by the "moran" guy. And the alleged quote from John Jay is bogus.
· George Soros, Puppet Master
· God Has Given Us a Christian Nation (John Jay, 1st US Chief Justice)
· U.S. Out Of U.N.
· We Are Not Tolerant of Treason!
· Public Schools: Leftist Re-Education Camps
· An Education Without the Bible Is Useless (Noah Webster, Founding Father)
· Liberal Congress: Killing Our Economy and Raising Unemployment, Since 2006
· Seal The Borders NOW
· If Liberals Could Win an Election, Why Would They Need So Much Voter Fraud?
· Sheriff Joe Arpaio - A Real American!
· GOP Leaders, You Are the Problem! We Don't Want Moderates!
· BUILD THE FENCE
· It Isn't the Quanity (Term Limit), Its the Quality (Character)
· Loss of Sovereignty At Core of Obama Agenda
· Background Checks and Questionaires for All Politicians, Judges
· We Want an In-Depth Investigation of Soros, Obama, and Acorn!
· Get 'em Out Now! Every Day They Destroy America More!
· Mainstream Media, Hollywood - Guilty of Treason? Yes, They Are!
· Don't Expect Wicked Men to Pass Good Laws
· Clean Up the National Voter Registration System Up Now!
· Thank God for the 2nd Amendment
· Remove the RINOs from the Republican Party!
· Bring Family Values Back From Liberal Perversions
· Spend Our Taxes on National Security, Not Liberal Stupidity!
· Wipe Voter Roles Clean! Re-Register "Legal" Voters Only!
· Impeach Obama!
· O.B.A.M.A. = One Big A** Mistake, America
Plus that Noah Webster opposed religious education, developed his famous dictionary, and was a supporter but not a participant in the founding of the country. He served Alexander Hamilton by editing the Federalist Party's newspaper from 1793 and then continued successfully in the newspaper and printing business in New York.
The slogans attack the U.N., gun control, moderate Republicans, public schools, Hollywood, and a perceived wickedness in the elected officials of our democracy.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s one of the big John Birch Society themes of the day argued that the Supreme Court had a majority of "secret Communists." These guys today do not get to repeat that claim.
So that is what you've got for the Third Party. They are what they do.
The presidency is likely out of reach for them. As with Senate seats in the larger-population states, excepting Texas and Florida, there is too much publicity generated with the presidency for Birch Society Republicans to win a general election.
Presidential primaries are at the balance point. You could see a Bircher win a primary.
Low-population states' Senate seats are another matter. Rural House seats and Bible Belt seats are also winnable for these candidates. Where the winning total is under 500,000 votes and education level is below average, expect Birchers to do well.
State and local elections are raw meat for their candidates. Beware your local school board. They feast on low turnout elections.
The Deb Fischer campaign in Nebraska is typical of successful efforts. She offered no discrete policy proposals, repeated the same dozen slogans throughout, and ended up taking 57.8% of the popular vote (455,593 ballots) over Bob Kerrey.
Nebraskans think she is a centerist.
Similarly, Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District is represented by John Kline. They have no idea how he votes on issues. His campaigns echo Bircher slogans, but omit the anti-immigrant rants to achieve a 54.1% victory (193,586 ballots.) There is no local coverage for his actions in Congress.
People there in MN-02 think John Kline is a centerist.
In fact he gets a 97.8% rating on the right. That is about as far right as you can find, as most of these congressmen vote for "left" bills that support their local businesses and regional initiatives. For the fiscal deal, Kline voted with Boehner. Publicly he spoke against compromise with Obama.
It's all a shell game. Birch Society Republicans get campaign contributions from far right billionaires. For those functions they present as Americanize "Fascisti" with fundamental opposition to democratic ideals. They target other contributors bound up with Fundamentalist religiosity and all-out tax avoidance.
They are threats to win seats. They hold at least 150 House seats now and likely have a dozen more Members who backed the fiscal compromise for reason of expediency.
This is a strong political party. They may or may not see themselves as a distinct party. They run as a pack, not as a disciplined political party.
The Bircher clast is not like your father's Republican Party. It is the John Birch Society in word and deed. They conceal their agenda -- like Deb Fischer and John Kline -- and present publicly as moderates and good compromisers.
It is in too-large a part the "nut cases," such as the hate-driven bigots that Barry Goldwater worked to remove from his own conservative movement during the 1970s and 1980s.
It is fundamentally destructive.
Obama has succeeded in enhancing this split in his opposition by sharpening the self-identification of Members who vote in the Bircher caucus. Whether the split widens or goes back to status as a hidden fault line remains to be seen.
Obama has worked an effective strategy. He starts out issuing public statements that appear to "cave" on policy issues. Then a day or so later there follow detailed policy proposals from his Cabinet that undo the "caves" and infuriate Business Republican leadership. Political analysis within the two Republican camps is driven to utter confusion.
Birch Society Republicans, more than not, have had no idea what was going on. Birchers do not participate in negotiations.
As the Bircher came to distrust their Business Republican partners, they broke off in mid-December and formed their own political clast.
Obama has to know that the Birchers have no strategy whatsoever for their actions in the House of Representatives.
Birchers in the House have the one mainstream tactic: they vote against taxes. Nothing if not predictable. Even that tactic is in trouble, come March of 2013, because the debt ceiling and the "sequester" deadline are now set for the same day.
Consider the language of Obama's position on the debt ceiling:
President Obama in his weekly address, Honolulu, Hawaii. January 4, 2013.The main backers of the Business Republicans will need to see expensive alterations to the "sequester" deal to satisfy their donors -- not possible without offsetting tax increases. Obama presents these revenue increases as "closing loop holes." Business Republicans also have no use for Bircher squabbles related to the federal debt limit. Their backers live and die by NYSE stock prices.
And as I said earlier this week, one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. The last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again.
"Divide and conquer" goes back to Julius Caesar and to Phillip II of Macedonia before him. You betcha, Barack Obama is aware of the concept.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thank you for the RECOMMEND upgrade.
The comments, here, are quite good. A half-dozen or so take up the effects of this divide amongst the Republicans and carry the analysis further than this diary by miles. Hopefully this will lead to several standalone diaries.
Birch Society Republicans have been "hiding in plain sight." They present themselves as "moderates" in congressional newsletters.
They form up as a major force in American politics -- overtly dishonest, destructive to governance and to democracy. We need to do a lot more than writing them off as a Mad Hatter "Tea Party."
As Joe Biden might say: "This is a big deal."
Originally posted to bontemps2012 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:59 PM PST.
Also republished by John Birch Society.
It didn't take Jennifer Bendery long to figure out what 100% of the new GOP House committee chairmen have in common, as she reports in House Committee Chairs Will All Be White Men In Next Congress.
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced who will chair all of the major House committees in the next Congress. And it turns out they all have something in common besides party affiliation: they're all white men.Remember all the discussions about the Republican Party learning valuable lessons about the need to reach out and broaden their appeal to women and minorities? It doesn't look like they are getting off to a very good start.
There isn't a single woman or minority included in the mix of 19 House committee chairs announced Tuesday -- a stark reality for a party desperate to appeal to women and minorities after both groups overwhelmingly rejected Republicans just weeks ago in the presidential election. The one female committee chair that House Republicans currently have, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is stepping down because her term is up. While there are still two lower-tier House committees awaiting a chair assignment -- the Ethics Committee and House Administration -- neither committee has any women or minority members. ...
"Disappointed to see House committee chairmanships in the 113th Congress will not include a single woman. -PM," tweeted Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who included a link to Boehner's press release announcing the chair posts.
Of course, the Not Intended to Be a Factual Statement Party long ago concluded that the truth will not set them free. So when Romney pollster Neil Newhouse insisted "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," he was merely confirming the Republicans' standard operating procedure now in place for over 30 years.
So, as the Republicans make Mitt Romney their official nominee for President of the United States, here are 15 things the GOP doesn't you to know about taxes and the debt.
(Click a link to jump to the details for each below):
- President Obama Cut Taxes for Almost All Working Americans
- Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
- George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
- Reagan Raised Debt Ceiling 17 Times, Bush Seven
- Tax Cuts Don't Pay for Themselves
- Almost All Working Americans Pay Taxes
- The GOP's "Job Creators" Don't Create Jobs
- Low Capital Gains Taxes Fuel Income Inequality...
- ...But Not Investment
- The Estate Tax Has Virtually No Impact on Family Farms and Businesses
- Income Inequality Has Reached an 80 Year High...
- ...While the Federal Tax Burden Has Hit a 60 Year Low
- Romney-Ryan Plan Another Massive Tax Cut Windfall for the Wealthy
- Romney, Ryan Won't Say Which of the $1 Trillion in Tax Breaks GOP Will End
- Romney-Ryan Will Add More Debt Than President Obama
Back in April, Bloomberg News correctly reported that "Obama Delivers on Tax Cut Promises as Increases for Rich Blocked." Of course, you'd never know if you listened to Mitt Romney, who claimed that the President "has already raised taxes on millions of Americans, but he won't stop there."
During the campaign four years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama called for families making over $250,000 a year to return to their Clinton-era of income tax rate of 39.6 percent, up from 35 percent under President Bush. With his stimulus program in February 2009, President Obama as promised delivered tax relief for 95% of working families. As Steve Benen noted at the time, it was the largest two-year tax cut in American history. But thanks to the jet-engine decibel level of right-wing rage, a cacophony willingly amplified by the media, that accomplishment was drown out. As the New York Times asked just before the 2010 midterm elections, "What if a president cut Americans' income taxes by $116 billion and nobody noticed?"
In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know.And that was before President Obama and Democrats in Congress secured a two-year reduction in Americans' payroll taxes.
What Americans may also not know if that both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan on delivering another windfall for the wealthy (below) even as they hike taxes for working Americans.
2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
Among the Republicans who prophesied the default doomsday scenario that almost unfolded last summer 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. After all, the hemorrhage of red ink at the U.S. Treasury was his doing.
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 two years ago:
"[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 also 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.)
In words and pictures, the New York Times tells the tale of what transpired:
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. Reagan Raised Debt Ceiling 17 Times, Bush Seven
"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.
For their part, Republicans want to pretend history began on January 20, 2009. While Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling claimed last year that for Republicans raising the debt ceiling is "contrary to our DNA," House Minority Leader Eric Cantor protested during his party's debt ceiling hostage-taking, "I don't think the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they're going to vote for a debt ceiling increase."
As McClatchy showed, Republicans are as bad at genetics and history as they are at economics:
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 Klein did, 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, TARP and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor 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. Tax Cuts Don't Pay for Themselves
In his version of the Republican myth that "tax cuts pay for themselves," President Bush confidently proclaimed, "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase." As it turned out, not so much.
This chart shows just how dire the tax revenue drought has become. For those Republicans who claim "tax cuts pay themselves," it's worth noting that federal revenue did not return to its pre-Bush tax cut level until 2006. (While this graph shows current dollars, the dynamic is unchanged measured in inflation-adjusted, constant 2005 dollars.)
Bush tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits during his tenure, and if made permanent, over the next decade would cost the U.S. Treasury more than Iraq, Afghanistan, the recession, TARP and the stimulus - combined. (See chart at top.)
As the Washington Post summed up the CBO's conclusions regarding the causes of the nation's mounting debt earlier this year, "The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts." The analysis by the Times echoed that finding:
With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here -- from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.But as Ezra Klein explained in the Washington Post, the revealing Times chart doesn't tell the full story of the impact of Bush-era policies on future debt facing Barack Obama:
What's also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama's major expenses were temporary -- the stimulus is over now -- while Bush's were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn't just lower revenue for 10 years. It's clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.Nevertheless, as the Republican Party waged its all-out attack in 2010 to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the GOP's number two man in the Senate provided the talking point to help sell the $70 billion annual giveaway to America's rich. "You should never," Arizona's Jon Kyl declared, "have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans." For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed to defend Kyl's fuzzy math:
"There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject."That may have been a view universally shared by virtually every Republican, but it happens to be wrong.
6. Almost All Working Americans Pay Taxes
Going back to the 2008 campaign, Republicans have kept up a steady drumbeat that "half of Americans don't pay taxes." That claim is no more true now than it was then.
In 2010, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt urged Americans to "look closer":
With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.
Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.Labeling the 47% argument a "distraction" from "who really pays what in taxes," Leonhardt explained:
Even if the discussion is restricted to federal taxes (for which the statistics are better), a vast majority of households end up paying federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. The number 10 is obviously a lot smaller than 47.
The reason is that poor families generally pay more in payroll taxes than they receive through benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. It's not just poor families for whom the payroll tax is a big deal, either. About three-quarters of all American households pay more in payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Social Security, than in income taxes.(Over the years, the Earned Income Tax Credit has enjoyed bipartisan support from the White House. Among its admirers was Ronald Reagan, who praised the EITC as "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.")
As Ezra Klein explained in April in the Washington Post:
But when we focus on the federal income tax, we miss all the taxes that low-income Americans do pay. The payroll tax, for instance. And state sales taxes. And lots of local taxes. Indeed, Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning tax policy group, produces a study every year showing the total tax burden for different groups once federal, state and local taxes are taken into account. And when you include all the taxes people pay, then, as you can see in the graph atop this post, it turns out that most Americans do pay taxes, and they in fact pay about as much as the rich.7. The GOP's "Job Creators" Don't Create Jobs
For years, Republicans have warned that President Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top two percent of taxpayers would crush "job creators." As Speaker Boehner protested:
"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, those expectations were sadly unmet under George W. Bush. After all, the last time the top tax rate was 39.6 percent 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 meager one 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.
That dismal performance prompted David Leonhardt of the New York Times to ask last fall, "Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?" His answer was unambiguous:
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...
Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.
Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade.faster economic growth or more jobs for Americans.
Mark Shields asked and answered in April:
"Do tax cuts help 'job creators' or 'robber barons'?"Just days after the Washington Post documented that George W. Bush presided over the worst eight-year economic performance in the modern American presidency, the New York Times in January 2009 featured an analysis comparing presidential performance going back to Eisenhower. As the Times showed, George W. Bush, the first MBA president, was a historic failure when it came to expanding GDP, producing jobs and even fueling stock market growth. Apparently, America's job creators can create a lot more jobs when their taxes are higher - even much higher - than they are today.
CBO data on effective tax rates by income quintile.)
8. Low Capital Gains Taxes Fuel Income Inequality...
For years, Republicans have also wanted to slash capital gains taxes. (The 2011 and 2012 House GOP budgets authored by Paul Ryan would eliminate them altogether.) Predictably, that would only serve to make the very rich much, much richer.
In September, an analysis by the Washington Post concluded that "capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed [the] growing gap between rich and poor." As the Post explained, for the very richest Americans the successive capital gains tax cuts from Presidents Clinton (from 28 to 20 percent) and Bush (from 20 to 15 percent) have been "better than any Christmas gift":
While it's true that many middle-class Americans own stocks or bonds, they tend to stash them in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, where the capital gains rate does not apply. By contrast, the richest Americans reap huge benefits. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.This convenient chart tells the tale:
poverty was rising and average household income had fallen - the 400 richest taxpayers saw their incomes double to an average of $345 million even as their effective tax rate was virtually halved. As the Washington Post noted, "The 400 richest taxpayers in 2008 counted 60 percent of their income in the form of capital gains and 8 percent from salary and wages. The rest of the country reported 5 percent in capital gains and 72 percent in salary."
Mitt Romney, who thanks to the "carried interest exemption" pays the low capital gains rate for most of income, told Newt Gingrich during a GOP debate:
"Well, under [your] plan, I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years."9. ...But Not Investment
Much lower tax rates for capital gains than income earned through labor, conservatives claim, spur investment, catalyze economic growth and fuel job creation. But if that Republican theology isn't true, then the United States has for decades done nothing more than deliver a massive windfall to the wealthiest Americans needing it least. Unfortunately, that's precisely what the data show. As it turns out, lower capital gains taxes increase income inequality - and not investment - in America.
As Paul Krugman recounted, the historically low capital gains rate enjoyed by the likes of Mitt Romney hasn't always been 15 percent. In the not-too-distant past, it reached 39.9 percent and before the Reagan tax reform of 1986 was the same as the top tax rate on income. But successive presidents of both parties lowered the capital gains rate on investment income because they believed, the Washington Post explained, "it spurs more investment in the U.S. economy, benefiting all Americans."
But as Jared Bernstein demonstrated with the chart below, there's no evidence to support that claim.
Hard to see anything in the picture supporting the view that either the level or changes in cap gains taxes play a determinant role in investment decisions.
Remember, the ostensible reason for the favoritism in tax treatment here is to incentivize more investment and faster productivity growth. But that's not in the data and the reason it's not in the data is because investors aren't nearly as elastic to cap gains rates as their lobbyists say they are (more precisely, they'll carefully time their realizations to maximize their gains around rate changes, but that's not real economic activity-that's tax planning).Reviewing other analyses, Brad Plummer of the Washington Post concurred with that assessment that low capital gains taxes don't necessarily jump-start investment in the economy:
The top tax rate on investment income has bounced up and down over the past 80 years -- from as high as 39.9 percent in 1977 to just 15 percent today -- yet investment just appears to grow with the cycle, seemingly unaffected...Billionaire Warren Buffett, the inspiration for the "Buffett Rule" advocated by President Obama and his Democratic allies, couldn't agree more. As he told the New York Times last year:
Meanwhile, Troy Kravitz and Len Burman of the Urban Institute have shown that, over the past 50 years, there's no correlation between the top capital gains tax rate and U.S. economic growth -- even if you allow for a lag of up to five years.
"I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone -- not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 -- shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off."But if lower capital gains tax rates have had little impact on investment, they have had an outsized impact on income inequality in the United States. As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) explained in December
Capital gains and dividends were a larger share of total income in 2006 than in 1996 (especially for high-income taxpayers) and were more unequally distributed in 2006 than in 1996. Changes in capital gains and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in the overall income inequality. Taxes were less progressive in 2006 than in 1996, and consequently, tax policy also contributed to the increase in income inequality between 1996 and 2006.10. The Estate Tax Has Virtually No Impact on Family Farms and Businesses
The Republican scam over the so-called "death tax" is as bogus now as it was when President Bush first perpetrated it during the 2000 election. Both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to eliminate the tax - and the billions in annual revenue it generates for the U.S. government - altogether.
As former Nevada Senator John Ensign griped, "It destroys a lot of small businesses and a lot of family farms and ranches in America," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) groused:
"People who aren't wealthy, who may have built up value in land over generations and many family farms find themselves in situations where they've got to sell the farm in order the pay the taxes."Sadly for conservative myth-makers, that claim, too, is completely false.
less than a quarter of one percent of American estates each year. Despite Republican mythology to the contrary, the Tax Policy Center reported that in 2009 fewer than 2,700 family farms and businesses owed the tax to Uncle Sam. But thanks to successful Republican brinksmanship, the December 2010 tax cut compromise lowered the rate from 45 percent to 35 percent while boosting the estate tax exemption to $10 million per couple, dropping the number of families impacted to just 40 a year. Now, Mitt Romney wants to make sure those 40 richest estates estimated to now pay the tax each year could keep billions of dollars away from the federal government.
And among those 40 estates would be his own. With President Romney zeroing out the estate tax, his five sons and 18 grandchildren would get a golden shower when their grandparents Mitt and Ann leave the scene. Their payday courtesy of all other American taxpayers could reach $84,000,000, that is, 35 percent of $240 million. (The Romney clan's winnings courtesy of the U.S. Treasury pale in comparison to the billions to be saved by the billionaires who back Mitt Romney and his Super PAC.)
11. Income Inequality is at an 80 Year High...
As ThinkProgress demonstrated (see charts above), historically lower tax rates for the richest Americans did not produce either more job creation or faster economic growth. (In fact, the Bush years produced what Leonhardt rightly labeled as "The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II.") But what the conservative cornucopia for the gilded-class does reliably produce is unprecedented income inequality.
CBPP) found a financial Grand Canyon separating the very rich from everyone else. Over the three decades ending in 2007, the top 1 percent's share of the nation's total after-tax household income more than doubled, from 7.5 percent to 17.1 percent. During that time, the share of the middle 60% of Americans dropped from 51.1 percent to 43.5 percent; the bottom four-fifths declined from 58 percent to 48 percent. As for the poor, they fell further and further behind, with the lowest quintile's income share sliding to just 4.9%. Expressed in dollar terms, the income gap is staggering:
Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation -- an increase in income of $973,100 per household -- compared to increases of 25 percent ($11,200 per household) for the middle fifth of households and 16 percent ($2,400 per household) for the bottom fifth.economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty documented, income inequality isn't just as it highest level since the Great Depression. The rich, it turns out, have already more than recovered from the impact of the Bush recession which began in late 2007:
They have found that the trends have mostly continued. From 2000 to 2007, incomes for the bottom 90 percent of earners rose only about 4 percent, once adjusted for inflation. For the top 0.1 percent, incomes climbed about 94 percent.
The recession interrupted the trend, with the sharp decline in stock prices hitting the pocketbooks of the rich. But the income share of 1 percent has since rebounded. Data that the two economists released in March showed that the top 1 percent of earners got nearly every dollar of the income gains eked out in the first full year of the recovery. In 2010, the top 10 percent of earners took about half of overall income.12. ...While the Federal Tax Burden is at a 60 Year Low
During the height of the Republicans' debt ceiling hostage-taking last summer, Speaker Boehner said the road to a compromise was my way or the highway:
"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.
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 in May 2010, 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 in 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.13. Romney-Ryan Plan Another Massive Tax Cut Windfall for the Wealthy
Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would reduce corporate taxes from 35 to 25 percent. The top marginal income tax rate would be slashed from 35 percent to 25 percent (for Ryan) or 28 percent (for Romney). But while the former Massachusetts Governor is offering a 20 percent across-the-board cut to all of the current tax brackets, Ryan wants to move to only two: 10 and 25 percent. Ryan-Romney also ends the AMT and by repealing the Affordable Care, the taxes on higher-earners used to help pay for it. (Both men also want to eliminate the estate tax, a move which could theoretically deliver the Romney heirs an $80 million windfall.)
The result of the Ryan plan is predictable. As ThinkProgress explained:
In all, those tax breaks amount to a $3 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans and corporations, according to the Tax Policy Center. Repealing the repatriation tax would add roughly $130 billion to that.ThinkProgress:
Romney's claim that his plan would promote job and economic growth while reducing the deficit is also likely false. The Bush tax cuts were promoted under the same guise, only to blow a $2.5-trillion hole in the federal budget that was accompanied by worst performance of any post-war expansion" for growth in investment, GDP, and job creation. Romney's tax cuts are even more expensive, clocking in at a cost of more than $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing revenue to a paltry 15 percent of GDP, according to Linden. Balancing the budget on those terms, as Romney claims he will do, would be next to impossible.In a nutshell, Romney's massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy makes George W. Bush look like Karl Marx.
Tax Policy Center revealed, that chart actually understates just how regressive Romney's tax plan really is. Even after assuming the closure of tax loopholes and deductions which disproportionately favor the rich (see below), TPC forecast that President Romney would cut taxes for the richest five percent of earners while increasing the tax bill for the other 95 percent of Americans.
Ezra Klein concluded that "'broadening the base and lowering the rates' is anti-family tax reform," adding:
"The size of the tax cut he's proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more."14. Romney, Ryan Won't Say Which of the $1 Trillion in Tax Breaks GOP Will End
Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have promised to slash tax rates and yet still balance the budget by getting "rid of the special interest loopholes, special deductions, lower everybody's tax rates, bring in at least as much revenue to the government." But because neither Romney nor Ryan has had the courage to publicly state which loopholes and deductions they would end, the inevitable result (see 15, below) would be trillions in new national debt.
But their cowardice is to be expected. As the New York Times recently revealed, that trillion dollars in annual tax expenditures is now larger than Uncle Sam's take from the income tax each year. And as the Washington Post highlighted last year, "ever-increasing tax breaks for U.S. families eclipse benefits for special interests"
estimated $1.3 trillion in annual tax expenditures in 2015 (a figure larger than the entire 2012 budget deficit and equivalent to about a third of the $3.8 trillion in federal spending next year) benefit working and middle income Americans. For example, the home mortgage tax deduction was worth $89 billion in 2011. Tax-deferred 401K accounts cost the Treasury $63 billion. The Earned Income Tax Credit had a similar $63 billion price tag last year.
Yet, as Paul Krugman pointed out in "Pink Slime Economics," the deductions and loopholes are the mystery meat in Paul Ryan's budgetary dog food:
We're talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That's a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?
None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That's the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)In April, the New York Times put Krugman's question into a handy chart of "Who Gains Most from Tax Breaks":
15. Romney-Ryan Will Add More Debt Than President Obama
Mitt Romney may "love data", but he has a serious problem with math. He has simultaneously promised to (a) extend the Bush tax cuts and then slash all rates by an additional 20 percent; (b) keep Uncle Sam's total take "revenue-neutral" and (c) eventually "Cut, Cap and Balance" the budget while (d) ensuring "that high-income people would continue to pay the same share of the tax burden that they do today." Like guaranteeing that the sun will rise in the west and set in the east, Romney's pledge is literally impossible.
His running mate does little better. That may seem like a surprising result, given Rep. Ryan's declaration that his mission is to "prevent an explosion of debt from crippling our nation and robbing our children of their future." But even with his draconian budget blueprint that cuts Medicaid by a third, ends Medicare as we know it, adds 48 million people to the ranks of the uninsured and by 2050 would result in ending all non-defense discretionary spending, over the next decade Ryan would unleash torrents of red ink from the U.S. Treasury. Ezra Klein explained how Paul Ryan came up $6.2 trillion short:
The Tax Policy Center looked into the revenue loss associated with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to cut the tax code down to two rates of 10 percent and 25 percent. They estimate the changes would raise $31.1 trillion over 10 years, or 15.4 percent of GDP. That's $10 trillion less than the tax code would raise if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, and $4.6 trillion less than it would raise if all of the Bush tax cuts were extended.
The Republican congressman says he'll "broaden the tax base to maintain revenue...consistent with historical norms of 18 to 19 percent." So let's say Ryan needs to find close-enough deductions and loopholes to hit 18.5 percent of GDP. That means he'd need to close about $6.2 trillion in tax deductions and loopholes over 10 years.But Ryan evades the responsibility for making the numbers work and taking the heat for ending popular deductions, a role he punts to the House Ways and Means Committee to "show how they would go about doing this." It's no wonder Greg Sargent said Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" plan simply "is not serious" while the New York Times called it "careless."
And one other thing. Over the next 10 years, the Ryan House budget would add substantially more to the national debt than President Obama's proposed 2013 plan.
As the Center for American Progress explained, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the Ryan budget "did not test Rep. Ryan's claims about how his policies would actually affect spending or revenue," but "merely showed what would happen to the debt if his claims were true." In a nutshell, they are not:
But the House budget's entire claim to deficit reduction is built on the foundation of those fantasy revenue levels. Without them, the debt goes up, not down. In fact, with all the House budget's tax cuts properly accounted for, revenue would average just 15.3 percent of GDP from 2013 through 2022, not 18.3 percent. The result: deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.
The national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022. By comparison, President Barack Obama's budget proposal, released in February, would stabilize the debt by 2015, and bring it down to 76 percent by 2022.Mitt Romney also rolled out a new economic plan, one which similarly hemorrhages red ink.
As it turns out, Romney's scheme to "Cut, Cap and Balance" the federal budget does nothing of the sort. For starters, while gutting the social safety net in order to fund yet another tax cut payday for the gilded-class, Romney also wants to expand U.S. defense spending to its highest level in decades. All told, he would lavishly expand Pentagon spending by $2.1 trillion over the next decade:
Washington Post explained in its discussion of an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, "until the campaign offers a more specific plan, Budget Watch analysts said Romney's entire framework would add about $2.6 trillion to the debt by 2021." (As ThinkProgress and the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Ezra Klein all explained, that's likely a conservative estimate.)
CAP put it this way:
The various fiscal promises Gov. Romney makes simply cannot work together. He cannot simultaneously cut taxes as he's proposed, increase defense spending, protect Social Security and Medicare for current and near-future retirees, and also balance the budget. It is mathematically impossible.Mathematically impossible and, for the American people, catastrophic.
Mitt Romney's "47 percent," meet Paul Ryan's "takers."
Romney is finally backing off his controversial comments, but the theme that the nation is divided into makers and government-dependent takers is one of long standing for both Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The GOP vice presidential candidate has repeatedly made statements that suggest he sees America in Ayn Randian terms—that many citizens are just takers, parasites who leech off productive citizens, the makers. As this collection of rarely seen videos shows, this has been a recurrent talking point for Ryan in small gatherings for years.
"Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes," he said on the June 2010 edition of Washington Watch. "So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers." By November 2011, in an address he gave at an American Spectator event, Ryan put the number of takers at 30 percent. (That remark was first reported by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post.)
Ryan has also warned about President Barack Obama creating "more of a permanent class of government dependents"—language that echoes Romney's take on the "47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
Todd Akin In 2008: Doctors Give Abortions To Women Who Aren't Pregnant & Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 2OKT12&19AUG12
As Slate's Amanda Marcotte reported Tuesday, Akin gave a speech on the House floor in 2008 denouncing abortion providers as "terrorists," claiming that they sometimes perform abortions on women who "are not actually pregnant":
"It is no big surprise that we fight the terrorists because they are fundamentally un-American, and yet we have terrorists in our own culture called abortionists. One of the good pieces of news why we are winning this war is because there are not enough heartless doctors being graduated from medical schools. There is a real shortage of abortionists. Who wants to be at the very bottom of the food chain of medical profession? And what sort of places do these bottom-of-the-food-chain doctors work in? Places that are really a pit. You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law-breaking: not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things, misuse of anesthetics so that people die or almost die."Akin's allegation of doctors performing abortions on non-pregnant women is particularly puzzling, since, by definition, an abortion cannot be performed if there is no pregnancy to terminate.
Akin, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, also gave a speech in 2005 on stem cell research, expressing his concern that a science-fiction story his daughter wrote about humans being harvested for body parts could become reality.
"Oppose public funding that destroys little yous and mes, and oppose this harvest of destruction," he urged his congressional colleagues considering a stem cell research bill.
Despite the overwhelming backlash to Akin's "legitimate rape" claim, the Republican has a good chance of beating incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in next month's election. The latest polling shows Akin with a lead of one percentage point over McCaskill, and a number of Republicans, including Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, have come out in support of Akin in recent weeks.
Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO) 19AUG12
In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, the GOP Senate nominee was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
Akin won a three-way primary on Aug. 7 for the rights to a November battle against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). McCaskill was "stunned" by Akin's Sunday comments.
After Akin's primary win, McCaskill wasted little time in pouncing on his conservative record, calling the congressman "out of touch."
"We're going to prove to Missourians that Todd Akin is out of touch with their problems, out of touch with the pain that they feel, and out of touch with the views that they hold dear," she said back on Aug. 8.
Akin's comments on abortion and rape come less than two weeks after he suggested banning the morning-after pill.
“As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country,” he said in an Aug.8 interview with KCMO radio.
UPDATE (5:25 p.m. ET): Akin's campaign released a statement Sunday on the issue, where the congressman admitted that he "misspoke" in the KTVI interview.
"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve. "I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/19/todd-akin-abortion-legitimate-rape_n_1807381.html?utm_hp_ref=todd-akin
"But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. We've had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats' failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead."
Paul Ryan: "Let's Make This Country a Tax Shelter" (VIDEO) 5OKT12
Romney has been criticized for his use of controversial tax techniques and overseas investment vehicles, including some in the Caymans—where he has at least $30 million in assets—and other well known tax havens. Here's how one expert described tax haven countries to our colleague Stephanie Mencimer:
James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Co., describes offshore tax havens like the "bar scene in Star Wars." He explains, "Dictators and kleptocrats used them to conceal stolen loot. Arms dealers and drug dealers use them to launder their deals. Google and Apple and Pfizer use them to park their intellectual property and pay themselves tax-free royalties. Banks use them to park lousy loans and stash the offshore accounts and assets under management of their wealthy individual clients, many of which are paying zero taxes back home…And so on."Here's the transcript of the full Ryan interview; the "tax shelter" line, which was pointed out to Mother Jones by a tipster, begins at 18:22 in the full video, which you can see here. You can also jump down to the full Q&A.
As you can see in the charts below, the United States already raises significantly less money (as a percentage of GDP) from corporate taxes than most other first-world nations, and although corporate tax rates are high here, corporations' effective tax rates—what they actually pay—are lower than those in most other first-world economies.
The United States' reliance on corporate taxes has fallen dramatically over the last 60 years. In 1952, the government got over 30 percent of its revenue from corporate taxes; today, that number is less than 10 percent. Many big companies, including Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon, had negative effective tax rates between 2008 and 2011, despite raking in billions of dollars of profits.
Parts of the United States are already effectively global tax shelters. Delaware, which has very lax business formation requirements and disclosure rules, as well as low corporate taxes, "today regularly tops lists of domestic and foreign tax havens," according to the New York Times. (Multiple entities associated with Romney and Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, were established in Delaware.) The Times' Leslie Wayne has more:
"What is so galling about secrecy in the United States is that there is no attempt to document who owns a corporation," said Richard Murphy, a senior adviser at the Tax Justice Network, an independent organization based in London that researches tax havens. "Two million corporations are formed each year in the United States, more than anywhere else in the world. Delaware, in turn, is the biggest single source of anonymous corporations in the world."So, to review: The United States already collects comparatively low amounts of corporate tax. But Ryan wants to make the whole country like Delaware. He says this "would ultimately raise revenues and promote economic growth." But if the US lowers its rates, there's nothing to stop other countries—including the Caymans and Switzerland—from slashing their taxes and fees and making their restrictions on corporations even lower, too.
Mr. Murphy adds: "Why go to the Caymans when you can just go down the street?"
In 2009, the Tax Justice Network named the United States as No. 1 on its Financial Secrecy Index, ahead of Luxembourg and Switzerland. It cited Delaware as one of the reasons.
That, Mr. Murphy says, elicited howls in Wilmington. "The reaction was: 'This cannot be true.' Not only can it be true, it is true." (The United States has since fallen to fifth place, behind Switzerland, the Caymans, Luxembourg and Hong Kong, after the group changed its method.)
Delaware subsidiaries are especially popular with global energy and mining companies like Exxon, Chevron and Rio Tinto. Among the top 10, some 915 subsidiaries have been set up in Delaware, compared with 51 in Switzerland and 49 in the Caymans, according to a report last September by the Norway chapter of Publish What You Pay, a London-based group that studies natural resources. The study said that this allows these resource extraction companies to put up a "wall of silence" about their far-flung operations and profits, especially from poor countries that may want a greater slice of the revenue. Exxon, Chevron and Rio Tinto declined to comment.
ABM: What would you do to limit or slow the migration of domestic business overseas?
PR: I would go to a territorial tax system. We should make the top American tax rate 25 percent for individuals and businesses. As you know, all the partnerships and LLCs are taxed at the individual rate. What the past Republican budget says is bring those tax rates down to 25 percent on the corporate side, as well. I think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot the way we tax ourselves. The rest of the world has moved toward a territorial system and we have not.
I just met with the chief of staff to the Council in Britain who stated not only have they just moved to a territorial system, they’re moving their top tax rate on businesses down to 23 percent. Ireland is at 12.5 percent. The international average corporate tax rate is 25 percent. We are the highest now at 35 percent. So, we are, literally, pushing capital overseas. Corporations are looking overseas and the US government is making it impossible for them to come back with their capital. That’s giving an incentive to keep capital overseas, not to domicile your company here, and we’re making ourselves ripe for takeover targets. Foreign companies are taking over US companies. This is occurring at an alarming pace—eventually the loyalties of these corporations will leave, as well.
I think we need to have a tax system that makes America a haven for capital formation. Let’s make this country a tax shelter for other countries instead of having other countries be a tax shelter for America. This would ultimately raise revenues and promote economic growth.
The way we should look at increasing revenues to the government should not be class warfare or a bigger than ever tax increase approach. Economic growth comes from job creation and better economic growth policies that raise revenue through higher growth. Lowering tax rates at a broader base of income brings in more revenues and would help us close our fiscal gap.
Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States 22SEP11
President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America."Mitt Romney on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 in a debate in Orlando, Fla.
Mitt Romney repeats claim that Obama went around the world apologizing for the United States
President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America," Romney said, in response to a question about Israel and the Middle East.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has made this charge several times. The first time we checked it was when he made the charge is his own book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.
Here’s the claim from Romney’s book that we checked back then:
"Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined," Romney wrote. "It is his way of signaling to foreign countries and foreign leaders that their dislike for America is something he understands and that is, at least in part, understandable. There are anti-American fires burning all across the globe; President Obama's words are like kindling to them."
In the book, Romney specifically named the speeches he was referring to:
"In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy."
At the time, we rated the claim False.
Romney made a similar claim in June 2011 during a campaign appearance when he said, "A few months into office, (President Barack Obama) traveled around the globe to apologize for America." We rated that one Pants on Fire, because he implied the trips were intended to offer the president a forum to apologize to other countries. That was hardly the case.
Let’s recap our specific findings.
What Obama said
For starters, as we looked over Obama's remarks, we noticed that he never used the word that is the universal hallmark of apologies: "sorry." Merriam-Webster defines an apology as "an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret."
We read the seven Obama speeches cited in Romney’s book and selected the passages that seemed the most critical, apologetic or conciliatory, and then ran them by several experts with different points of view. Because of their length, we've compiled those passages into a separate document with links to the full remarks, and we encourage you to click over and read those remarks now.
At times, Obama uses an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand formulation that he tends to employ right before he asks the two sides to come together.
At a town hall meeting in France, for example, Obama encouraged Europe to work with the United States, and admitted that the United States "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." But he immediately said that Europe has been guilty of a "casual" and "insidious" anti-Americanism. "On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated," Obama concluded. And at a major address to the United Nations, Obama said, "I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction."
At other times, Obama doesn't seem so much to be criticizing the United States as he is criticizing the foreign policy stances of the Bush administration. In England, a reporter said that during the 2008 campaign, Obama had said that the power and authority of the United States had diminished in recent years. Obama was quick to turn the question toward the Bush team. "Well, first of all, during the campaign I did not say that some of that loss of authority was inevitable," Obama said. "I said it was traced to very specific decisions that the previous administration had made that I believed had lowered our standing in the world.... I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world."
At a speech in Cairo on relations between the United States and the Islamic world, Obama got very close to regretting decades-old U.S. actions in Iran. But then he immediately countered with criticism of Iran. He did not make a formal expression of regret, but suggested both countries simply "move forward." Here are his exact remarks: "In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward."
Looking at all the remarks Romney cited, we noticed that Obama is most conciliatory when discussing torture and detention at the U.S. military installation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama mentioned this in four separate instances that Romney cited in his book. Typically, Obama would say that the United States must always stay true to its ideals, and that's why Obama "unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year." (He has not been successful with his order of closing Guantanamo; we’ve rated it a Promise Broken.)
Obama's most pointed remarks on Guantanamo were at the National Archives, in a major speech on fighting terrorism. Obama said that after 9/11, "our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions." He also said that the Guantanamo prison "likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies."
Did Obama apologize?
Back in 2010, we sent Obama's remarks to several different experts on foreign policy and apologies, to see if they thought Obama was apologizing.
• Nile Gardiner, a foreign policy analyst with the the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Obama is definitely apologizing, and it's not good. He co-wrote the Heritage analysis, "Barack Obama's Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower."
"Apologizing for your own country projects an image of weakness before both allies and enemies," Gardiner said. "It sends a very clear signal that the U.S. is to blame for some major developments on the world stage. This can be used to the advantage of those who wish to undermine American global leadership."
He noted that Obama tends to be most apologetic about how the United States has fought terrorism and its approach to the Iraq war. "There is a very strong partisan element to his apologies, but the biggest driving factor is Obama's personal belief that the U.S. is not an exceptional, uniquely great nation," he said.
• John Murphy, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies presidential rhetoric and political language. He said Obama is using conciliatory language for diplomatic purposes, not apologizing.
"It's much more a sense of establishing of reciprocity," Murphy said. "Each side says, okay, we haven't done great, but we have a new president and we're going to make a fresh start and move forward. I don't think that's an apology. ... In rhetorical history, an apology is generally considered an account of some kind of bad behavior in which you are going to take responsibility and express regret."
Romney's criticisms of Obama are part of a conservative tradition that emphasizes steadfastness in foreign policy, particularly in the wake of the Vietnam War. "There's long been a strain of conservative rhetoric that argues that what matters most for the United States in the world is our will," Murphy said. "The difficulty with that was shown in the second Bush administration, when will power is not quite enough. In Iraq, for example, you have to have a battle plan that makes sense and understand the situation you're going into'' and have enough resources to do that.
• Lauren Bloom, an attorney and business consultant, wrote the book, The Art of the Apology, advising businesses and individuals on when to apologize and how to do it.
She said Obama's words fall short of an apology, mostly because he didn't use the words "sorry" or "regret." "I think to make an effective apology, the words 'I'm sorry' or 'we're sorry' always have to be there," Bloom said.
Obama's remarks are really non-apologies, and they're not good in business or personal relationships, Bloom said. The one area where they can be useful: international diplomacy.
"Gov. Romney is trying to appeal to the inner John Wayne of his readers, and that has a certain emotional appeal," Bloom said. "For the rest of us, a level assessment of less-than-perfect human behavior is perfectly reasonable."
• Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann, a professor who studies international human rights, maintains the Web site Political Apologies and Reparations, a database of documents on apologies. Many of the apologies in the database relate to genocide or slavery.
"To say the United States will not torture is not an apology, it is a statement of intent," Howard-Hassman said. "A complete apology has to acknowledge something was wrong, accept responsibility, express sorrow or regret and promise not to repeat it."
Obama's Cairo address in particular was a means of reaching out to the Islamic world, not an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, she said.
"Whether he's apologizing or not, he's saying 'I respect your society, and I respect your customs.' Maybe that's what Romney considers an apology, that gesture of respect," she said. "But a gesture of respect is not an apology."
Other presidential apologies
Short of conducting a full review of all American presidents to see if any others had ever apologized, we decided to narrow our focus and look at Obama's two immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Several sources we reviewed discussed Clinton's remarks about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and described them as an apology. But Clinton did not explicitly apologize, and he assigned responsibility to the international community, not just the United States. "The international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy as well," Clinton said in Rwanda in 1998. "We did not act quickly enough after the killing began. We should not have allowed the refugee camps to become safe haven for the killers. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of hope."
Clinton did apologize, forcefully, to the survivors and families of the experiments conducted in Tuskegee, Ala., in which government doctors left sick men untreated as part of a research study on syphilis. "The United States government did something that was wrong -- deeply, profoundly, morally wrong," Clinton said at a formal ceremony in 1997. "To the survivors, to the wives and family members, the children and the grandchildren, I say what you know: No power on Earth can give you back the lives lost, the pain suffered, the years of internal torment and anguish. What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry."
Bush made remarks in 2002 about American slavery, which some people construed as an apology, at Goree Island, Senegal. But Bush did not formally apologize or express regret, instead opting to praise the Americans in history who worked to end slavery. "My nation's journey toward justice has not been easy, and it is not over," he said. "The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all."
Bush did, however, specifically apologize to King Abdullah of Jordan for the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The 2004 apology took place privately, but Bush and Abdullah spoke soon after at a Rose Garden press conference. "We also talked about what has been on the TV screens recently, not only in our own country, but overseas -- the images of cruelty and humiliation. I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America," Bush said. "I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America."
Obama's praise and motivations
While Obama has admitted mistakes, he has also praised America. Romney acknowledged as much when he wrote that Obama, "always the skillful politician, will throw in compliments about America here and there."
In Cairo, Obama called the United States "one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. ... We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world." At the Langley speech, Obama told the CIA staff, "What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy; even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it's expedient to do so. That's what makes us different. So, yes, you've got a harder job. And so do I. And that's okay, because that's why we can take such extraordinary pride in being Americans. And over the long term, that is why I believe we will defeat our enemies, because we're on the better side of history."
And at his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, Obama said: "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."
What’s new from the debate
What Romney said at the debate in Orlando -- "He went around the world and apologized for America" -- is very similar to what he said at his campaign stop in June -- "A few months into office, he traveled around the globe to apologize for America."
At the debate, Romney added this comment: "He addressed the United Nations in his inaugural address and chastised our friend, Israel, for building settlements and said nothing about Hamas launching thousands of rockets into Israel."
We looked again at Obama's first speech at the United Nations. It's true that he does not specifically mention Hamas. But it's certainly not a one-sided chastisement of Israel. Obama repeatedly calls on Palestinians to understand and respect Israel's security needs. And he specifically mentions the fear Israeli civilians have of rocket attacks.
"We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It's not paid by politicians," Obama said. "It's paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It's paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own."
Some of the Obama speeches that Romney cited in his book certainly laid out Obama’s foreign policy ideas, and it seems fair to say that a less confrontational approach was among Obama’s goals. Obama had made no secret during the campaign that he intended to set a different course on foreign policy than Bush -- a committed unilateralist -- had pursued.
Still, we think it’s incorrect for Romney to portray these early speeches as part of a global apology tour. Using Romney’s standard, you could argue that any change in foreign policy that’s undertaken after a presidential transition and announced to the world would constitute an "apology" for the previous policy.
On the substance of Romney’s charge, we believe that what we wrote in March 2010 still stands. While Obama's speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, those passages were typically leavened by praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries have erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch. And on the new angle Romney has added -- that the trips were intended to offer the president a forum to apologize to other countries -- we think it’s a ridiculous charge. There’s a clear difference between changing policies and apologizing, and Obama didn’t do the latter. So we rate Romney’s statement Pants on Fire.
HERE are the speech excerpts referenced above
Obama took questions at a town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, on April 9, 2009. He opened the meeting with remarks on the U.S.-Europe relationship and said that the U.S. and Europe need to work together.
"Not more than a generation ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that the inability of somebody to pay for a house in Florida could contribute to the failure of the banking system in Iceland. Today, what's difficult to imagine is that we did not act sooner to shape our future. Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened, and the United States certainly shares blame for what has happened. But every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead, especially now, for whether it's the recession or climate change, or terrorism, or drug trafficking, poverty, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we have learned that without a doubt there's no quarter of the globe that can wall itself off from the threats of the 21st century."
At another point, Obama addressed transatlantic attitudes:
"In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated."
During a visit to London in April 2009, Obama answered questions at a press conference. A reporter asked Obama which country was to blame for the financial crisis:
"I would say that if you look at the sources of this crisis, the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system."
At another press conference, a reporter said Obama during the campaign had spoken of the "diminished power and authority of the United States over the last decade" and asked if Obama was seeing evidence of that.
"Well, first of all, during the campaign I did not say that some of that loss of authority was inevitable," Obama said. "I said it was traced to very specific decisions that the previous administration had made that I believed had lowered our standing in the world. And that wasn't simply my opinion; that was, it turns out, the opinion of many people around the world. I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world. And although, as you know, I always mistrust polls, international polls seem to indicate that you're seeing people more hopeful about America's leadership."
Obama gave a major address to the Turkish parliament in April that seemed to be largely a diplomatic outreach to an Islamic ally and to the Islamic world at large.
"I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam."
He also said this:
"Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That's why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That's why we prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard. Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans. Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past."
The Obama administration billed a speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, as a major diplomatic outreach to the Islamic world.
"Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. ...
"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward."
CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
On April 20, 2009, Obama visited the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. Much of his brief remarks were thanking the CIA officers for their work. But he visited them not long after his administration released records on brutal interrogation tactics. Whether those methods met the legal definition of torture is one thing; they certainly met the common usage definition, "to cause intense suffering." Obama's visit was seen as a move to reassure the agency's staff.
"Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we've made some mistakes. That's how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States, and that's why you should be proud to be members of the CIA."
The National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Obama used the setting of the National Archives to discuss his thoughts on fighting terrorism, particularly about how terror suspects should be tried. During the speech, Obama said he intended to keep some prisoners in indefinite detention.
"After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era -- that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.
"Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent.
"In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach -- one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. ...
"There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law--a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
"So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies."
United Nations General Assembly
Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2009, in New York City. Obama urged countries to work together under the auspices of the UN to address issues such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change and economic development. Obama also used the speech to discuss his actions since taking office only nine months before.
"I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction. ...
" For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.
On my first day in office, I prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example. ..."
"Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people and in its past traditions. And I admit that America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment; it only reinforces it."
Subjects: Foreign Policy
Fox News/Google debate transcript, accessed via CQ Transcriptswire, Sept. 22, 2011
Mitt Romney, presidential announcementspeechin Stratham, N.H., June 2, 2011
Mitt Romney, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, 2010
PolitiFact, "Obama's remarks never a true 'apology,'" Mar. 15, 2010
The Heritage Foundation, Barack Obama's Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower, June 2, 2009
The American Spectator, Conservatve (sic) Leaders Speak Out Against Obama's Apology Tour, Sept. 25, 2010
Rush Limbaugh, Obama Attacks America Again Ahead of Muslim Apology Tour, June 2, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at a town hall in Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at joint press availability in London, April 1, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President at a news conference in London, April 2, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President on national security at the National Archives, May 21, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President to CIA employees, Langley, Va., April 20, 2009
The White House, Remarks by the President to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 23, 2009
Interview with Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation
Interview with John Murphy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Interview with Lauren Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology
Interview with Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann of Wilfrid Laurier University
Wilfrid Laurier University, Political Apologies andReparationsdatabase
The National Archives, speech of President Bill Clinton in Rwanda, March 25, 1998
The National Archives, remarks of President Bill Clinton "in apology for study done in Tuskegee,"May 16, 1997
The National Archives, speech of President George W. Bush at Goree Island, Senegal, July 8, 2003
The National Archives, remarks of President George W. Bush with King Abdullah of Jordan, May 6, 2004
Fox News, Bush apologizes for prisoner abuse, May 7, 2004
The White House, Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 2009
Foreign Affairs, The Carter Syndrome, by Walter Russell Mead, January 2010
Written by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Researched by: Angie Drobnic Holan, Louis Jacobson
Edited by: Martha Hamilton
Why do the Koch brothers want to end public education? & How the Koch Brothers Funded Public-School Segregation 19 & 15AUG11
How the Koch Brothers Funded Public-School SegregationBy Andy Kroll
In its response to AFP, Brave New Foundation stood by its story. BNF pointed to several statements of AFP-NC's in support of its claims, including a 2008 blog post of Woodhouse's saying AFP-NC "is on record as supporting the parents of WakeCARES, through significant financial contributions as well as other support." In the fall of 2009, WakeCARES endorsed the four school board candidates who opposed Wake County's busing policy, and a former AFP-NC director later credited WakeCARES with paving the way for the four candidates' victories. BNF alleged AFP "funneled" financial support to the candidates through Art Pope, a wealthy Raleigh businessman and an AFP national director, who gave more than $15,000 to the Wake GOP which in turn spent nearly all of its political donations in 2009 on backing the four conservative school board candidates. AFP-NC's Woodhouse also told Newsweek in January that his group did voter education and mobilized volunteers for the school board election.]
At first glance, the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers and the Wake County, North Carolina, school board couldn't be more disparate. Charles and David Koch, the brains behind the massive Koch Industries conglomerate and the funders of so many right-wing political causes, are national figures, credited with (or accused of, depending on your political persuasion) launching the tea party movement and waging war on the Obama administration and its agenda. The Wake County public school board is, well, just that.
In reality, there are deep connections between the Kochs and Wake County, and it's all about the money. The latest installment in the left-leaning Brave New Foundation's "Koch Brothers Exposed" video series reveals how a Koch-founded and funded outfit, Americans for Prosperity, fueled a campaign to "resegregate" the schools of Wake County, a prosperous area in central North Carolina that's home to the cities of Raleigh and Cary, among others.
Asked If Bank Of America Paying Nothing In Corporate Taxes Is Fair, Pawlenty Responds: Taxes Are ‘Too High’
2MAR11ThinkProgress filed this report from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit in Phoenix, AZ.
Last weekend, Americans around the country organized “Main Street Movement” protests to stand in solidarity with organized labor and demand that corporate interests pay their fair share. As ThinkProgress has reported, many of the nation’s largest corporate interests pay literally nothing in corporate income taxes. ExxonMobil made nearly $20 billion in profits in 2009, but paid nothing in corporate income taxes. Other extremely profitable companies GE, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Boeing similarly have had entire quarters or years without paying corporate income taxes.
At the Tea Party summit last weekend, we spoke to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a prospective GOP presidential candidate, about corporate tax cheats. Asked about Bank of America, another wildly profitable American bank that paid nothing in corporate taxes in 2009, Pawlenty simply relied “Well actually the corporate tax rate in Minnesota and around the country is too high.” Reminded several times that Bank of America doesn’t pay it’s corporate taxes, regardless of rates, Pawlenty said that both exemptions and rates should be lowered. However, he again emphasized that he was not troubled, or even aware, of corporate tax dodging, and that corporate tax rates should be reduced:
FANG: Governor, today liberals are demonstrating all over the country in what CBS has called a liberal version of the Tea Party. Their main complaint is that a lot of corporations aren’t paying their fair share. For example, Bank of America, in 2009 paid nothing in corporate income taxes, same with ExxonMobil, GE, and a lot of other big corporations. Do you think corporations like Bank of America should pay their fair share? What are your thoughts on that?Watch it:
PAWLENTY: Well actually the corporate tax rate in Minnesota and around the country is too high. And I think one thing we could and should do is–
FANG: You think zero is too high with Bank of America paying nothing?
PAWLENTY: We have the highest corporate tax rate, or one of them, in the world–
FANG: But they use loopholes and offshore bank accounts to pay nothing.
PAWLENTY: The things I’ve called for is reducing tax rates and looking at exemptions or special deals within the tax code that give certain companies privileges or benefits. I can’t speak individually to any country, company would get in that regard, but I think one goal or direction is to simplify and reduce tax rates and clean out as many of the special deals as possible.
FANG: To be clear, do you think Bank of America pays too much in taxes already?
PAWLENTY: I don’t know what Bank of America pays in taxes. I’ll just say, setting aside Bank of America, the corporate tax rate in America is too high compared to our competitor nations.
Even Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a Republican well to the right of Pawlenty on most issues, told us that corporate tax dodgers “broke the law.” As he prepares to run for president, Pawlenty has positioned himself close to the corporate right. Last year, we broke a story about how bailed out banks — still on the hook for taxpayer money — were funneling cash to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to kill financial reform. We asked Pawlenty if he had any problem with taxpayer-owned banks secretly lobbying against reforms for their industry. He didn’t.
12 Examples of Stunning Hypocrisy from Tea Party Republicans In One Short Month
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on February 3, 2011, Printed on February 3, 2011
It's only been a month since the new Tea Party lawmakers took office, but the entirely predictable results of their ascension are already coming in. The Republican Party's newest class of “mavericks” have again stormed into office intent on proving their theory that government is inherently evil by screwing up everything in sight.
Before we embark on our tour of the Tea Party politicians' early moves – and those of the party they were supposed to be “taking back” -- let's recall exactly what they promised: they were relentlessly focused on economic issues – and, we were told, would eschew the kind of social issues that had long marked Republican politics in the era of the Religious Right. They would bring greater transparency and accountability to government. They promised to be good fiscal stewards, respond to the wishes of the people and, above all else, they swore up and down to obey the letter of the Constitution.
Let's see how they did in the early going.
I Hate Government Health Care. Also: Where Is My Government Health Care?
The hypocrisy began before the new class of pols was sworn in. When it was reported that “a conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at an orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in,” it raised eyebrows.
When Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the titular inspiration for the Tea Party movement, was asked if he thought it was hypocritical for members of Congress to accept government-subsidized and regulated health plans, he replied simply, “[c]ould be.”
Violating the Constitution on Day One
The Constitution is the answer to every policy debate for the conservative wing of the GOP – or at least their tenuous grasp of what it says. But they didn't take long to trash the document. As Ryan Grimm reported for the Huffington Post:
Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.As if that weren't enough, the two lawmakers, incumbent Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and newcomer Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, couldn't make the swearing-in because “they were attending a fundraiser at the U.S. Capitol even though lawmakers are barred from using official resources for campaign or fundraising activities.” That's illegal, and they did it on day one!
And Their Own Rules
The new GOP majority in Congress was supposed to be different this time. Heavily influenced by the Tea Partiers' message, they promised greater transparency. “Leaders overreach because the rules allow them to,” said newly minted Speaker John Boehner in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. “Legislators duck their responsibilities because the rules help them to. And when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored.”
That was before he took the speaker's gavel, however. Later, as Politico reported, “the new majority is already showing these promises aren’t exactly set in stone.”
After calling for bills to go through a regular committee process, the bill that would repeal the health care law will not go through a single committee. Despite promising a more open amendment process for bills, amendments for the health care repeal will be all but shut down. After calling for a strict committee attendance list to be posted online, Republicans backpedaled and ditched that from the rules. They promised constitutional citations for every bill but have yet to add that language to early bills.That was certainly fast. But as Boehner said, “when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored.”
Cutting Your Grandparents' Medicare
In October, Politifact noted that “Republicans often complained the Democratic plan would cut Medicare” during the reform debate, and “they are now repeating those attacks in campaign ads against many Democratic candidates, targeting older voters who may be worried their Medicare benefits will be harmed.”
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Tea Party favorite from Texas, went so far as to suggest, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, that “the left” wanted to “cut Medicare by $500 billion to finance a corner of ObamaCare.” Given that older voters tend to skew toward the GOP, this line of attack made sense for turning out the Republicans' base.
Yet just two short months after Hensarling wrote that op-ed, the National Journal reported, “House GOP members are considering a measure to convert the government-backed Medicare program into a voucher system,” which would represent a drastic benefit cut for seniors in years to come:
Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that he expects Republicans to support the provision, which would require Medicare to give seniors an allotment of money to buy private coverage starting in 2021. The eligibility age would also be raised, from 65 to 69.Austerity for Thee; Lavish, Corporate-Sponsored Parties for Me!
They were going to represent “the people,” but one has to remember that, in the conservative worldview, big corporations are people too!
To be fair, corporate sponsors generally kick in dollars for new governors' electoral balls, but as Think Progress noted, some of the new Tea Party-backed governors took it to the extreme, allowing “corporations with a vested interest in policy outcomes from a friendly government to pay for their inaugural bashes.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) spent $3 million in funds from Florida’s business interests that have “the most at stake in his administration,” including tobacco, real estate, gambling, and drug companies seeking specific regulatory advantages for their business. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) also received a big inaugural bash courtesy of private donations from Boeing, Duke Energy, and SCANA. Several other Republican governors are following suit. According to local reports, Govs. Rick Perry (TX), John Kasich (OH), Brian Sandoval (NV), Mary Fallin (OK), and Rick Snyder (MI), are the newest state executives to join the pay-to-play club.They're Not Just on Capitol Hill
Maine's new governor, Tea Party-favorite Paul LePage, promised his transition team would look for “the best and the brightest” as it “seeks people to fill key roles in what’s expected to be a pro-business administration,” reported the Associated Press. In the end, that included not only several conservative think-tankers, but also his 22-year-old daughter Lauren, to whom he gave “a staff position within the upper echelon of his administration.”
According to the Bangore Daily News, “Lauren LePage said that although she did not study politics in college, she enjoyed her work on the gubernatorial campaign and saw this as a unique opportunity.” While salaries in the current governor's office start at $30,000 per year, the recent college grad will be pulling down $41,000 under her father, who was elected promising to clean up Augusta.
Scott Gessler was a Tea Party fave when he ran for the office of Colorado Secretary of State. “We need to trust our elected leaders,” he said on the trail. But soon after his election, Gessler gave voters reason to question whether he could be trusted when he announced that he would supplement his $68k annual salary by moonlighting with his old law firm on the side.
"To the extent he is working for his old firm and his old firm is dealing with the Secretary of State's office, it creates a real conflict," Elena Nuñez, program director for Colorado Common Cause, told the Denver Post. "In some cases it may just be the appearance of conflict."
What's more, Gessler refused to recuse the Secretary of State's office from cases involving his side job. “He said he would treat his old firm just like any other when it came to the decisions his office makes,” according to the Post.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslam may win some kind of prize for hypocrisy.
On January 16, the Associated Press reported that Haslam had “stressed the themes of transparency, responsiveness and humility at his first full Cabinet meeting.” But that statement came just 24 hours after he had signed an executive order eliminating “a requirement for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn.” The AP noted that “the move wipes off the books former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s first executive order of 2003, which required the top executive branch officials to make annual reports about their total earnings.” Haslam, it should be noted, had been “heavily criticized during the campaign for refusing to say how much he earned from family owned Pilot, a national truck stop chain with annual revenues of about $20 billion.”
I have always maintained that “limited government” is attractive as an abstract concept, but looks quite ugly in the real world. Evidence for that comes from Long Island, where a Tea Party-backed local pol has rapidly brought about financial disaster to Nassau County. Reuters explained the mess, which it called “a black eye for the Tea Party”:
At his January 2010 inauguration, Tea Party-backed Republican Edward Mangano marched up to the podium, pen in hand. Even before being officially declared Nassau County Executive, he signed a repeal of an unpopular home energy tax.But Mangano didn't cut spending, nor did he figure out a way to make up the lost revenues, perhaps believing the conservative myth that cutting taxes leads to more tax dollars. The problem is that the belief is firmly grounded in magical thinking.
The fiscal consequences ...were anything but cool. The repeal set Mangano on an immediate collision course with the state-appointed fiscal overseer, the Nassau County Interim Financial Authority, or NIFA. It culminated in NIFA seizing control of the wealthy New York county's finances just weeks after the new County Supervisor was sworn in.The tax had cost homeowners and average of around $7 per month – repealing it had truly been a triumph of ideology over common sense.
The Religious Right by Any Other Name ...
Last March, the New York Times reported that Tea Party leaders were “deliberately avoid[ing] discussion of issues like gay marriage or abortion.”
Tea Party leaders argue that the country can ill afford the discussion about social issues when it is passing on enormous debts to future generations. But the focus is also strategic: leaders think they can attract independent voters if they stay away from divisive issues.In September, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana – a Tea Party favorite – said that “putting our fiscal house in order, creating policies that will open the doors of opportunity to families during this difficult economy and create jobs has to be the first priority and I believe will be the first priority if Republicans are given another opportunity to lead.”
That lasted a total of 17 days after taking office. Then, Mike Pence's very first act in the new Congress was to offer legislation that would limit abortion services by redefining rape to include only “forcible" rape. “We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence said when he unveiled the bill. “Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.”
Spitting on the Constitution
For a movement that pledges unwavering fealty to the Constitution, it's remarkable how many blatantly unconstitutional pieces of legislation these new firebrands are introducing.
The Iowa Tea Party is backing a “nullification” bill allowing the state to ignore federal laws, a direct violation of the Supremacy Clause. David Gray Adler, who directs the University of Idaho's McClure Center for Public Policy Research, told the Washington Post that “nullification proponents ignore the fact that one Supreme Court decision after another has gone against them.” The state's Republican Attorney General weighed in, stating the obvious: “There is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will follow,” which is why “no court has ever upheld a State effort to nullify a federal law.”
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida, also got into the act, offering a bill that would make it a crime – punishable by a hefty fine or even jail time – for a doctor to ask a patient whether there are guns in the patient's home. The constitutional problem seems obvious: it doesn't permit the government to limit a physician's free speech rights just because some lawmaker really, really likes guns. Or, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law "protects the Second Amendment from the First."
Then there are various bills to strip citizenship from children born to undocumented immigrants. They're popular, but as the figurehead of the Tea Parties, Ron Paul, has long acknowledged, the only constitutional approach to the issue would be to lose or change the 14th Amendment. The provision has been tested in a series of Supreme Court cases, making it a “super-precedent.” Passing simple legislation to strip people of an established and tested right is unconstitutional.
Ethics, Ethics, Ethics
The new GOP caucus promised to restore the American people's confidence in their party after it had become tainted by its culture of corruption during the Bush years. During last year's campaign, Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, assured the public that the GOP would "institute a zero-tolerance policy" when it comes to lawmakers' transgressions.
Nice talk, but just a month after taking control of the lower house, a GOP freshman is already facing a serious ethics problem. As the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen reported, “not quite three weeks into the 112th Congress, a newly elected Republican congressman is facing a scandal so severe, the leadership is already preparing for his ouster.”
With Miami's David Rivera, it's not just one controversy, it's a series of head-shaking outrages that make one wonder what on earth voters in his district were thinking.Benen added that despite “Cantor's promise of a 'zero-tolerance policy,' the House Majority Leader has refused to say a word about Rivera's multiple, ongoing scandals, or the criminal investigation.”
The most recent scandal is Rivera's inexplicable decision to try to cover up loans from his mother's gambling-related marketing company, a matter that's already under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Indeed, it appears that the owners of a dog track made more than $500,000 in secret payments to a company Rivera owned.
The Republican congressman is also at the center of domestic violence allegations, has been accused of driving a truck off a road because it was carrying flyers from a rival campaign, hiding the finances surrounding foreclosure proceedings on a house he co-owned with Marco Rubio, and bizarre lies about nonexistent work he did for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
To be fair, Rivera is not a Tea Partier. But his corruption is so blatant, he deserves honorable mention here nonetheless. For more on Rivera's ethical and legal problems, see here.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America). Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/149776/
I just had to add this to this page because this is typical of the gop and tea-bagger mentality in Congress.
GOPer: Military "Inconsistent With American Values" (VIDEO)
The military isn't consistent with American values! It does not have freedom of speech! It does not have freedom of assembly! It does not have the freedom to express its love to those in the military the way you can out here! Because it's an impediment to the military mission! You can't do that! Can you imagine military members being able to tell their commander what they think of him, using freedom of speech, or assembling where they wish? It doesn't work!Wow, I didn't realize the military sucked that bad. And I'm a vet! Thanks, Rep. Gohmert, for selling a new generation of young Americans on the joy of national service.
Of course, to anyone who's familiar with Terror Babies-gate, Anderson Cooper-gate, and Moo Goo Dog Pan-gate (as well as his fear that direct participatory democracy is un-American), this is just Louie being Louie. Game on, Gohmert Pyle!
(h/t Spencer Ackerman, "The Vilest Thing You Will See Today")
If You Liked This, You Might Also Like...
Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans
“My name is Wendell Potter and for twenty years, I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick— all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.”
That is how I introduced myself to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on June 24, 2009. The committee’s chair, Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., had asked me to testify as part of his investigation into health insurance company practices that for years had been swelling the ranks of the uninsured and the underinsured in the United States.
I explained how insurance companies make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they make it nearly impossible to understand—or even obtain—information needed by consumers. I described how for-profit insurance companies, in their constant quest to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations, routinely cancel the coverage of policy-holders who get sick, and how they “purge” small businesses when their employees’ medical claims exceed what underwriters expected.
I knew that as soon as I said those words my life would change forever. It did—but in ways I never could have imagined.
I had quit my job as head of public relations at CIGNA—a job that had paid me deep into six figures—because I could no longer serve in good conscience as a spokesman for an industry whose routine practices amount to a death sentence for thousands of Americans every year.
I did not intend to go public as a critic of the industry. But it gradually became clear to me that the industry’s duplicitous PR strategy was going to manipulate public opinion and likely shape health care reform in ways that would benefit insurance company executives and their Wall Street masters far more than most other Americans.
I was eventually compelled to pull back the curtain on the industry’s deception-based PR strategy, which comprised two active fronts. One was a highly visible “charm offensive” designed to create an image of the industry as an advocate of reform—and a good-faith partner with the president and Congress in achieving it. The second front was a secret, fearmongering campaign using front groups and business and political allies as shills to disseminate misinformation and lies, with the sole intent of killing any reform that might hinder profits.
I had left my job at CIGNA in May 2008, but it wasn’t until 10 months later that I realized I couldn’t stay on the sidelines. As it turned out, it would be a fellow Tennessean who gave me one of the final shoves off the sidelines and into the spotlight and the new role of whistle-blower, as many people have called me.
It was March 5, 2009, and I was channel surfing for some news about the health care reform summit that President Obama was holding at the White House that day. Of the 120 or so people at the summit, many were from special interests that had the largest stakes financially in a reformed health care system: doctors, hospitals, drug and medical- device manufacturers, and, of course, insurers. Knowing that these groups had played a lead role in killing Bill and Hillary Clinton’s reform plan 15 years earlier, Obama wanted to keep them from doing the same this time around. Having campaigned as someone who could bring people with diverse points of view together to work toward the common good, Obama had brought the top lobbyists of each special interest group to his kickoff reform “table”—which the Clintons had not done—and openly solicited the groups’ support and cooperation. To win their support, his administration would eventually cut side deals with some of them, most notably the drugmakers.
I flipped to MSNBC just as Tamron Hall was getting ready to interview Republican representative Zach Wamp, from Tennessee’s Third Congressional District. I’m also from east Tennessee, although I have lived in Philadelphia since CIGNA relocated me to the company’s headquarters there in 1997. I grew up in Mountain City and Kingsport, both in the northeastern part of the state near the Virginia line. Wamp lives in Chattanooga, in the southeastern part of the state near the Georgia line.
When Hall asked Wamp about his views on the president’s ideas for reform, he just about called Obama a Marxist: “It’s probably the next major step toward socialism. I hate to sound so harsh, but ... this literally is a fast march toward socialism, where the government is bigger than the private sector in our country, and health care’s the next major step, so we oughta all be worried about it.”
He then started accusing the Democrats of wanting to redistribute wealth in the country by taking money away from those who already had health care to pay for those who didn’t have it, many of whom, in his view, were just irresponsible bums waiting for a handout.
“Listen,” he said. “The forty-five million people that don’t have health insurance—about half of them choose not to have health insurance. Half of ’em don’t have any choice, but half of ’em choose to, what’s called ‘go naked,’ and just take a risk of getting sick. They end up in the emergency room, costing you and me a whole lot more money. How many illegal immigrants are in this country today, getting our health care? Gobs of ’em!”
As I listened to Wamp’s rant, I knew exactly where he’d gotten his talking points: from me.
He was using the same misleading, intentionally provocative and xenophobic talking points that I had helped write while serving on the Strategic Communications Advisory Committee of the insurers’ biggest trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). We PR types had created those talking points, with help from language and polling experts, and given them to the industry’s lobbyists with instructions to get them into the hands of every “friendly” member of Congress. Most of the friendly ones were Republicans, and most were friendly because they had received a lot of money over the years in campaign contributions from insurance company executives and their political action committees.
(In spirited remarks on the House floor shortly before the vote on final reform legislation in 2010, Representative Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., called the Republican Party a “wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” As someone who had managed CIGNA’s PAC contributions for several years, I knew Weiner’s remark had the ring of truth. CIGNA and other big insurers have contributed considerably more to Republicans than to Democrats.)
I was dismayed to hear Wamp’s demagogic remarks— and not just because I’d had a hand in writing his script, but also because I know his district well. If anybody in America could benefit from the Democrats’ vision of reform, it would be those who live in the counties he represents. Many are rural and remote, with high percentages of people who are either uninsured or underinsured. The per capita and house hold incomes in most of his counties are far below the national average. Yet the Third District’s representative—contrary to the best interests of his constituents— was saying exactly what the insurance industry wanted him to say.
Later that evening, I saw a couple of TV reports about the summit. One of the clips featured Karen Ignagni, AHIP’s president, standing up at the summit and telling the president he could count on her and the health insurance industry.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” she said. “Thank you for inviting us to participate in this forum. I think, on behalf of our entire membership, they would want to be able to say to you this afternoon and everyone here that we understand we have to earn a seat at this table. We’ve already offered a comprehensive series of proposals. We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment. We hear the American people about what’s not working. We’ve taken that seriously.”
Turning in one of her best performances to date, she added, “You have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year.”
The president— having just been played like a Stradivarius by one of the best lobbyists ever to hit Washington—said, “Good. Thank you, Karen. That’s good news. That’s America’s Health Insurance Plans.”
The crowd cheered and applauded. They all seemed to be buying it—but I wasn’t, not by a long shot. I wasn’t surprised, either, at the president’s and the crowd’s reactions to what she had said.
Ignagni is one of the most effective communicators and—with a salary and bonuses of $1.94 million in 2008—one of the highest-paid special interest advocates in Washington. I’ve known her since she left the AFL-CIO in the early 1990s to lead one of AHIP’s predecessors, the Group Health Association of America, an HMO trade group of which Humana was a member when I worked for that insurer. I knew from the first time I met her that she was the perfect choice to lead the insurance industry. She is smart, telegenic, articulate, charming, a strong leader, and a brilliant strategist. Following her success in shaping to her industry’s liking the legislation creating the Medicare prescription drug program, Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt commented, “Whatever AHIP pays her is not enough.”
I realized after watching the exchange between Ignagni and Obama that I had seen both sides of the industry’s duplicitous PR campaign in a single day. Ignagni was saying what she knew the president and the inside-the-Beltway crowd wanted to hear, while Wamp was saying what the industry wanted him to say to the rest of the world. He was a tool in the industry’s effort to use “third parties” to kill key elements of the president’s plan, if not all of it, by scaring and lying to the public.
But it was another televised interview the following Monday that pushed me from the sidelines and into the fray. Four days after the White House summit, Chris Matthews was interviewing Mike Tuffin, AHIP’s executive vice president of strategic communications, on his MSNBC show, Hardball. “The same people who helped kill the Clintons’ efforts back in the ’90s are on the other side now,” Matthews said in introducing Tuffin. “Times have changed. The worm has turned. The cosmos has shifted. Some of the bad guys are becoming perhaps the good guys.”
There was no doubt about it: Tuffin was on the show as part of AHIP’s charm offensive.
“This time,” he told Matthews, “we’re coming to the table with solutions. We want to be part of the process. We pledged that to the president. We’re calling for new regulations on our industry to make sure everyone has guaranteed access to coverage.” He thus joined Ignagni in spinning the fiction that, for the first time ever, insurers were willing to accept more regulations and change their ways so that everybody in America could “have access to affordable, quality care” (a favorite term of industry leaders).
And just like Obama, Matthews seemed to be falling for it.
Copyright 2010 - Bloomsbury Press: All Rights Reserved
The National Association of Manufacturers — an organization that carries cachet on the Hill for its representation of many businesses in the industrial sector — wrote each House office a plea to oppose H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010.
"Manufacturers strongly support extending the 2001 and 2003 tax relief for all taxpayers," the organization's Executive Vice President Jay Timmons wrote. "Over 70 percent of American manufacturers file as S-corporations or some other pass-thru entity and will be significantly impacted by these higher rates." According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, fully extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would add between 600,000 and 1.4 million jobs in 2011 and between 900,000 and 2.7 million jobs in 2012.
"We urge Congress to reject this legislation and move toward extending all of the current tax rates"
Timmons also noted that NAM would likely use a members vote on H.R. 4853, "including potential procedural motions," as part of its report card for determining who to support in the upcoming elections.
Coming the morning of the House vote, NAM's letter is more a dramatic than a sustained lobbying push. But that didn't tick off Democrats on the Hill. Offices who received the plea scoffed at the framing it adopted. For starters, small businesses would largely see their tax rates stay the same under the Democratic-authored legislation. More than that, the notion that the bill being considered constituted a tax increase is technically false. The reason rates are rising is because Republican lawmakers wrote a bill in 2001 that sun-setted in 2011.
"There is not a single provision in this bill that will raise taxes," wrote one incredulous Democratic aide. "Those provisions were included in the 2001 / 2003 Republican bills.
THE NAM LETTER TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the largest manufacturing association in the United States, urges you to oppose H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010.
Tax relief enacted in 2001 and 2003, which repealed the estate tax and lowered both individual tax rates and tax rates on investment income, helped spur economic growth. Now, however, absent immediate congressional action, these lower rates will expire, resulting in a top income tax rate of nearly 40 percent, a 164 percent increase in the dividend tax and the return of a 55 percent estate tax on family-held companies.
Manufacturers strongly support extending the 2001 and 2003 tax relief for all taxpayers. Over 70 percent of American manufacturers file as S-corporations or some other pass-thru entity and will be significantly impacted by these higher rates. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, fully extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would add between 600,000 and 1.4 million jobs in 2011 and between 900,000 and 2.7 million jobs in 2012.
We urge Congress to reject this legislation and move toward extending all of the current tax rates.
The NAM's Key Vote Advisory Committee has indicated that votes on H.R. 4853, including potential procedural motions, merit consideration for designation as Key Manufacturing Votes in the 111th Congress.
The Republican Party's 21-page blueprint, "Pledge to America," was put together with oversight by a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.
In a draft version of The Pledge that was being passed around to reporters before the official release, the document properties list "Wild, Brian" as the "Author." A GOP source said that Wild -- who is on House Minority Leader John Boehner's payroll -- did help author the governing platform that the party is unveiling on Thursday. Another aide said that as the executive director of the Republican leadership group American Speaking Out, Wild's tasks were more on the administrative side of the operations.
Until early this year, Wild was a fairly active lobbyist on behalf of the firm the Nickles Group, the lobbying shop set up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles. During his five years at the firm, Wild, among others, was paid $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse; $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum; more than $1.1 million from Comcast, more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil; and $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.
Not all of his work has been done in the world of influence peddling. From 2001 through 2004, Wild was the legislative director for then Representative Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) the current Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. From 2004 through 2005 he was a Deputy Assistant For Legislative Affairs to Vice President Dick Cheney. There also was a tenure on the staff of former Colorado Republican Senator Hank Brown.
But the career door has been revolving. And in between his time in Johnson and Toomey's office, Wild served as a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he helped steer more than $34 million worth of lobbying activity for the business interest group.
Past associations with entities like the Chamber are hardly character disqualifiers, certainly on the Republican side of the aisle where fidelity to the business lobby is a virtue. But having been paid to lobby on behalf of major companies with legislative business before Congress does create an obvious optics problem for Republican leaders hoping to promote their agenda as clean of big-moneyed influence.
Asked about the perception of conflicting interests, Brendan Buck, a spokesperson for the House GOP Legislative Initiatives stressed that there was none. Wild, he said, played a role in steering "The Pledge" project. But he was not involved in actually authoring its specific provisions -- a task saved for the actual members.
Below is a snapshot of the document properties of "The Pledge" listing Wild as the author:
Meet Your 112th Congress
Red Meat: Vanity Fair’s Official 2010–11 Republican Beefcake Calendar
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio.
Star sign: Scorpio.
Marital status: Taken!
Turn-ons: Wearing his hair like that; people who take the time to learn how to correctly pronounce others’ last names.
Turn-offs: Human-colored flesh.
Hometown: Dillingham, Alaska.
Star sign: Virgo.
Marital status: Hitched!
Turn-ons: Competitive snowmobiling; amateur snowmobiling; just-for-fun snowmobiling; practice snowmobiling; fishing.
Hometown: Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Star sign: Virgo.
Marital status: Married!
Turn-ons: Reading Cosmopolitan, which awarded Brown its “America’s Sexiest Man” distinction in 1982.
Turn-offs: Political dynasties; strong jawlines; preppy Catholics.
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Star sign: Gemini.
Marital status: Thrice espoused!
Turn-ons: Extramarital sex.
Turn-offs: The extramarital sex of others.
Hometown: Osborne, Kansas.
Star sign: Taurus.
Marital status: Married!
Turn-ons: The Tea Party Express; Alaska; U.S. politics.
Turn-offs: Quid pro quo endorsements.
Hometown: Coco Solo Navel Air Station, Panama Canal Zone, Panama.
Star sign: Virgo.
Marital status: Twice hitched!
Turn-ons: Varies with each election cycle.
Turn-offs: Plucky brunettes who favor rimless glasses and folksy aphorisms.
Hometown: Everett, Washington.
Star sign: Aquarius.
Marital status: Twice married, once divorced!
Turn-ons: Histrionics; grandiosity; blackboards; excessively programmatic solutions to abstract social ills.
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana.
Star sign: Scorpio.
Marital status: Hitched!
Turn-ons: TheDirty.com (né DirtyScottsdale.com); Boogie Nights; whiskey.
Turn-offs: Unattractive women; ugly girls; fat chicks; dumb bimbos; disgusting tramps; gross females; regular-sixes-drunk-sevens.
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Star sign: Capricorn.
Marital status: Taken!
Turn-ons: Conversation about his dad, Ron.
Turn-offs: Strict interpretations of the term “board-certified physician.”
Hometown: Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
Star sign: Libra.
Marital status: Married!
Turn-ons: Expense accounts; corporate credit cards; outdated hip-hop slang.
Turn-offs: The criticism he received after awarding Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal “some slum love” for doing a “friggin’ awesome job.”
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Star sign: Gemini.
Marital status: Hitched!
Turn-ons: The Brady Bunch, from which Piyush Amrit Jindal took his nickname, Bobby.
Turn-offs: Hell demons, which he once personally banished from the body of a friend during a routine exorcism.
Hometown: Hope, Arkansas.
Star sign: Virgo.
Marital status: Married!
Turn-ons: The inclusion of Chuck Norris in political ads; Capitol Offense, Huckabee’s rock band.
Turn-offs: His own body fat, 110 pounds of which he lost and later wrote about in his 2005 self-help book, Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.
Hometown: Miami, Florida.
Star sign: Gemini.
Marital status: Taken!
Turn-ons: Cheerleaders (his wife is a former member of the Miami Dolphins squad); neologisms (in his book 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, he invoked the imaginary word “idearaisers”).
Turn-offs: Lazy Florida voters—Rubio boldly suggested raising the retirement age.