Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Republicans Economic Policy: Take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich

The Republican party has been waging class warfare since Reagan and they have been so effective that they have all but destroyed America's middle class. Here are two important Republican code phrases everyone should understand:

Cut Spending -- When Republicans talk about cutting spending they're not talking about that welfare program for corporations and the rich called the Defense Budget. They're not talking about ending the military adventures overseas. They're not talking about cutting subsidies for huge agribusiness like ethanol. And they're not talking about the hugely expensive and failed War on Drugs that has left America with dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

No, they're only talking about cutting "entitlements."  Republicans would steal from the middle class by taking money they've spent their working lives paying for through payroll deductions for Social Security and Medicare.

Actually the money has already been stolen. Republicans and Democrats have spent the money that was put aside to pay for the Baby Boomers' retirement. That money was supposed to be held in a trust fund, but both parties raided the trust fund to cover short-term budget shortfalls because they couldn't be honest about budget deficits. But only Republicans are now proposing to resolve this problem by cutting benefits that mean the difference between poverty and security for the middle class in retirement.

Tax breaks are good for the economy -- Tax breaks add a huge additional debt burden, but that kind of debt is OK by Republicans because they have fought for and won tax cuts that are heavily weighted towards the wealthy.

Republicans claimed that extending the tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy but that's simply not true. Most of the tax cuts go to high-income households, and they don't spend as much of their income as the middle class and the poor. The government could more effectively stimulate the economy by only cutting taxes for the middle and lower classes and using the money for aid to the states, extensions of unemployment insurance benefits and tax credits favoring job creation. Dollar for dollar, each of these measures would have about three times the impact on GDP as continuing the Bush tax cuts.

Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare

Phase one was to "starve the beast" by cutting taxes while at the same time spending so much money that budget deficits and the interest on the debt cause a crisis that cannot be ignored.  That has already been accomplished.

Phase two is to propose massive cuts in Social Security and privatization. The amount of guaranteed retirement income would be reduced to a pittance, and folks would have to invest in the stock market and accept the risks involved. This would be a great boon for Wall Street speculators as they fleece millions of unsophisticated investors out of their retirement money.

Republicans are also now proposing vouchers for Medicare so that people could supposedly buy health insurance on their own. Another "free market" solution by Republicans that sounds promising till one examines the details. The vouchers would start out being totally inadequate, and according to the schedule proposed by Republicans, the value of Medicare vouchers would eventually dwindle down to almost nothing.   

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Friday, January 21, 2011

House Republicans focus on politics over substance

Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, but after all that was said prior to and after the midterms about how the "adults" were now going to be in charge let's take a look at what they've done so far:

1. They read the Constitution
What was the point of reading the Constitution? According to Republicans, House members needed to be reminded of what was in it. Anyone who paid attention to the reading would have noticed that nearly all members left the floor just as soon as they read their tiny bit. So it's doubtful that any benefit was derived from that bit of political theatre.

2. They debated and then repealed healthcare reform.
Instead of the groundswell of Democratic support that Republicans predicted, only 3 Democrats voted for repeal and these were Blue Dog Democrats who who had already voted against the bill the first time around. The repeal bill will now die in the Senate despite Republican whining that Senate Democrats won't let the bill come to a vote. This whining by Republicans is particularly ironic considering how many bills the Republicans have blocked in the Senate over the past two years, because they were intent on denying Obama any credit for doing anything.

Republicans want to repeal the healthcare law that was passed before actually proposing a viable alternative. And it's quite clear that they have no intention of ever passing any law except those that benefit private insurance companies at the expense of the people they claim to represent.

3. They attempted to redefine rape to further restrict federal funding for abortions.
Current law allows federal funds to pay for abortions resulting from rape or incest. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” narrowed the definition of rape to “forcible rape.” Anti-abortion zealots don't want the federal government to pay for any abortions so they sought to eliminate funding for ending pregnancies resulting from rapes where force is supposedly not involved; such as date rape, statutory rape, rapes where drugs or alcohol render the victim unable to fight back, and rapes of mental incompetents.

The backlash was swift and it caused Republicans to remove the forcible rape language, but the bill would still eliminate tax breaks for health insurance premiums on policies that cover abortion expenses and it would prevent women from paying for an abortion with funds from a health savings account. 

And what's next on the agenda for House Republicans?
Republicans plan to rewrite the Clean Air Act so that it can't be used to fight climate change. This is another example of political theatre that will accomplish nothing because this bill will also die in the Senate. Republicans don't care about clean air or climate change. They frame everything in terms of how it will affect job growth, as if turning America into a toxic waste dump is OK as long as a few jobs are created in the process.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tucson Tragedy

The Tucson Tragedy
Where do we go from here?

The far right has been trying to inoculate itself against any criticism of its role in stirring up anger and hatred to unprecedented levels in the past 20 years. We've all seen the rallies with nasty signs, the faces contorted in anger, the display of weapons, and we've heard the vitriolic spew from Tea Partiers and others on the far right who claim Democrats are destroying America. The fires of hatred are being stoked daily by far right talking heads on radio and television, the blogosphere and through chain emails.

Some on the Left did speculate on the motivations of the Tucson murderer without any evidence whatsoever, except for the fact that the intended victim was a Democrat and a supporter of immigration reform. That was wrong, but it was also somewhat understandable given the way cable news operates after a breaking story of such magnitude.

However the Right has seized upon this as an excuse to claim that they were being victimized and are still being victimized whenever anyone says anything about the unpleasant tenor of political debate. They are trying to stifle any discussion of the desirability of perhaps dialing it back some. They don't want anyone talking about "Don't retreat, reload" or "Second Amendment remedies" or "We came unarmed, this time" and the like so they have been using their favorite tactics in times like this:

1. Deny that words have consequences -- as if the entire advertising
industry has been wasting its money.

 2. Claim equivalency (falsely) by trotting out a few examples of
intemperate speech by the Left -- as if there was any comparison between
a few (or even a lot of) remarks that the Left shouldn't have made and
the tsunami of right wing hate speech that washes over America every
single day.

3. Claim they are being victimized by the Left and their allies in the
mainstream media

The Right's political strategy has always been quite clear:

Keep Americans fearful and:
They will vote for Republicans.
They will support tax breaks for business and the rich
They will support more funding for the military-industrial complex
They will support wars of aggression
They will support torture and other violations of human rights
They will support more cops, more prisons, more domestic spying...

Because the Right benefits so much from hateful speech and the anger it stokes, they will always shout down any attempt to discuss its negative consequences and they will divert attention with false equivalency arguments. However this time they may be going too far. Fox News and the rest of the far right propaganda machine has been pumping out a steady stream of talking points of denials, false equivalency arguments, and victimization claims, and those talking points have been reverberating in the echo chamber to a degree that is almost unprecedented. This gross overreaction may well be what undermines the entire effort. 


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ken Padgett's Blog

Ken Padgett grew up in a suburb of Washington DC. He joined the army at 17 and spent the majority of his 3 years of military service in Germany. After the Army Ken worked several years as an electronics technician and a master scheduler. He has been self-employed since 1984; first as a desktop publisher, then a network engineer, a freelance writer, and a webmaster.

Padgett created his first personal web site in 1997 and his first business web site in 2000. Since then he has become a very successful internet entrepreneur.

Ken's interest in writing has led him to create several web sites devoted to publishing his articles. Agilewriter contains many of the biography and history articles he wrote as a freelancer. His Guide to Hopi Kachina Dolls describes their history and how kachinas are made, and also explores the origins and history of the Hopi Kachina Cult. Ken has written a History of Blackface and Minstrel Shows that is often assigned as required reading for classes by college professors and high school teachers. Ken Padgett is currently working on a History of Yellowface that details the history of Asian racial stereotypes in the media.

Ken Padgett lives at 3134 Mercer Lane, San Diego, CA 92122. A more complete biography is located at the Ken Padgett Home Page

This is a blog containing the key words "Ken Padgett" and "3134 Mercer Lane" that is intended to be fodder for search engines. Please visit my blog called, Have You Been Google Bombed? to learn how to protect or restore your online reputation.  Click here to visit the Ken Padgett Facebook page.