Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Why it is not “both parties” ruining Washington

March 16th, 2013

I often hear the argument that the current gridlock in Washington is a result of “both sides.” Political discussions with my RepublicanRepublican Congressional Leadership friends usually start out with their position that, “my side is right the other side is wrong.” All too often their arguments are word-for-word talking point straight from Fox News, like “Obama has failed to lead.” When I point out that their side (the Republicans) have engaged in unprecedented obstruction and political gamesmanship, they usually end up throwing up their hands and saying, “Well both side are a joke, and they are both guilty.” That answer is a cop-out.

I agree that both sides have some responsibility for our current problems. However, the more I learn about the details and history of how the two parties work together, the more I am convinced of the following conclusions:

  • Republicans have become much more extreme since the 1970s, while Democrats have stayed about the same. In fact, this is the most extreme Republican Party in history—and the conservative media industrial-complex has helped shift much of the Republican base in the same direction.
  • The primary goal of Republicans in congress is to block anything Obama supports, even when it is their own idea or legislation that will help the American people.
  • Republican tactics are undemocratic: They are attempting to make it harder for people to vote (voter ID laws, fewer voting locations, etc.); they are redrawing election districts in their favor (as a result, they kept control of congress in spite of receiving fewer votes nationwide); they have used the filibuster at record levels (i.e., as a minority party, they have blocked much of the legislation of the democratically elected majority party); and they push policies that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

I will provide evidence and additional detail in support of these conclusion below.

Conclusion

Democrats have not been innocent in the political battles of recent years. Obama has said that he could have reach out more effectively to congressional Republicans during his first two years in office. And Democrats have been almost as bad as Republicans in their close work with lobbyist and acceptance of corporate donations. They have also attempted redistricting (i.e., gerrymandering) in their favor, although not nearly to the level of Republicans.

However, what congressional Republicans have been doing is completely unprecedented. Political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein described today’s Republican Party:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to America’s first credit downgrade (source).

From the very beginning of the Obama administration, as discussed in a Republican strategy meeting on the night of Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Republicans planned to “Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.” (source; see also: Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, by Robert Draper). In an October 2010 interview with National Journal, Republican senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for Obama to be  one-term president.” (Though McConnell later backtracked and said, “I don’t want the president to fail, I want him to change.”)

The decision not to work with Obama was made before he took office, and was meant to make him a one-term president, even if this meant harming the American economy (e.g., unprecedented use of the debt ceiling leading to the U.S. Credit downgrade, blocking bills that would help the economy and create jobs, etc.). It is not surprising that one year after the Republicans took control of congress in 2010, they received the lowest approval ratings in polling history, at just 9%.

The bottom line is that the Republicans are hurting their own party, and even more so they are hurting the country that they claim to love. The problem in Washington is not “both sides.” The problem is an extreme Republican Party that is hellbent on keeping and gaining additional power at any cost. I encourage my Republican friends to be a voice of reason within the Republican Party, rather than being pulled to the fringe where the GOP is currently residing.

 

See additional detail below.

» Read more: Why it is not “both parties” ruining Washington

Republicans are Bad for the Economy

June 25th, 2011

Democrats Outperform Republicans by Wide Margin

The Dow Jones industrial average increased by 29.5% in the one-year period following Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009—the third best showing, going back 110 years, for the U.S. stock market in the 12 months following the inauguration of a new President. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first year, which began on March 4, 1933, tops the list with the Dow increasing by 96.5% over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter trails his peers with a loss of 19.6%. On average, Presidents in the Democrat party saw an average one-year gain of 24%, while Republicans averaged 1%.

Barack Obama (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 2009
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +29.5%

At 468%, Genworth Financial was the best-performing S&P 500 stock during Obama’s first year in office.

William J. Clinton (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1993
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +19.3%

The industrial sector was the best-performing sector in the 12 months following Clinton’s inauguration.

Woodrow Wilson (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Mar. 4, 1913
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +0.5%

After World War I began during Wilson’s second year, the U.S. stock market closed for 4 1/2 months.

John F. Kennedy (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1961
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +10.8%

The U.S. economy grew 6% in 1961, more than any other President’s first year since at least 1948.

Lyndon B. Johnson (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Nov. 22, 1963
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +21.6%

The Dow increased 27% over the length of Johnson’s five-plus years in office, or about 5% a year.

Richard M. Nixon (REP)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1969
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: -17.0%

The Dow also lost 17% during the first year of Nixon’s second term.

Ronald Reagan (REP)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1981
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: -12.7%

The prime rate topped 21%—the highest level on record—during Reagan’s inaugural year.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (REP)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1953
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +0.5%

The Dow hit a bottom in September 1953 and then went on to double over the next 2 1/2 years.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Mar. 4, 1933
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +96.5%

The Dow Jones industrial average rose by an average 9% a year during FDR’s 12-year tenure.

George Bush (REP)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1989
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +19.6%

The 1980s ended during Bush’s first year, with the Dow rising 228% over the decade, or 13% a year.

George W. Bush (REP)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 2001
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: -7.7%

During his eight years in office, the Dow fell 22%, to 8,281. The S&P 500 lost 37%, closing at 850.

Gerald R. Ford (REP)

Inauguration Date: Aug. 9, 1974
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +4.2%

The Dow fell 45% between Jan. 11, 1973, and Dec. 6, 1974, one of the worst bear markets in history.

Harry S. Truman (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Apr. 12, 1945
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: +30.9%

Almost 18 years after reaching 200 for the first time, the Dow again climbed to 200 in January 1946.

Herbert Hoover (REP)

Inauguration Date: Mar. 4, 1929
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: -15.6%

The Dow dropped 48% from Sept. 3 to Nov. 13 in 1929.

Jimmy Carter (DEM)

Inauguration Date: Jan. 20, 1977
Percentage Change in Dow Jones Industrial Average During First Year in Office: -19.6%

Inflation increased by more than 6% during Carter’s fi rst year.

Why Businesses Should Support Socialized Healthcare

June 23rd, 2011

Why does business align itself with conservatives in supporting the status quo of our failed healthcare system? If I am a conservative businessman, why would I choose a system that discourages personal responsibility? Why would I choose to bear the burden of my employees’ healthcare? Why would I support an anti-market system that forces many to stay in a dead-end job solely for their insurance benefits? If I support the free market, don’t I want market forces—such as performance, ability, and individual choice—to prevail? Do I really want to compete again foreign companies who have universal healthcare and therefore much lower overhead costs? (see this case study) There are historical reasons behind these questions, but I don’t understand why the fear of taxes drives business to get behind such a poorly structured system.

As candidates gear up for the 2012 presidential election, most Republicans are running on a platform that includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (AKA, “ObamaCare”). This law gets rid of some of the more harmful elements of the system such as denial of care based on a preexisting condition, the use of annual limits, insurance company monopolies that lead to abusive premium increases, and numerous inefficiencies in the system. Yet, Republicans want to get rid of it, and potentially replace it with the Paul Ryan voucher system. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. A public option would be a better way to control costs and efficiencies. But Democrats could not get it done. Republicans have successfully demonized the new law, and will make a futile attempt to repeal it (which is interesting because Republicans support almost every element in the bill when asked—in fact, many of the ideas in the bill were first proposed by Republicans. This is not about the American people!). Beside the cynical answers of trying to use the issue to spook voters, what is driving Republicans to take this position?

I want to ask my Republican friends, “Exactly which aspects of the law do you want to eliminate? Is it the market-based exchange that you are against? Do you hate the idea of guaranteeing children with chronic illness the opportunity to purchase life-saving insurance? Are you against the mandate that people take personal responsibility by participate in the system to bring down costs for all (which is how insurance is supposed to work)?” But I can hear the response now: “Well, these are all good things, but how are you going to pay for it?” This is their response to any social program. The answer, of course, is to raise taxes. We have one of the lowest taxes rates in the industrial world. Taxes are an investment into the infrastructure of freedom that allows businesses to succeed and thrive. Most businessmen would agree that a better educated workforce is preferable to one that is not. And many would agree that the public education system—in spite of its flaws—is a low-cost, efficient, and effective way to provide it. Business does not want to be shackled with the responsibility to provide all training and education for its workers. So it welcomes a public education system that turns out a qualified workforce that allows them to succeed. Their tax dollars contribute to this system—this “socialized” education system. Well, the same logic holds true for a healthy workforce. A universal, government-insured healthcare system is what will help America thrive and compete globally in the twenty-first century.

See also:

Facts about the Affordability Care Act

Current system slows entrepreneurship

Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform

First Order of Business: Healthcare Repeal?

January 7th, 2011

House Republicans have made repeal of the healthcare bill their number one priority. Politico reported: “The House on Friday cleared a key procedural hurdle in repealing the landmark health care law, voting 236-181 largely along party lines to move ahead to next week’s final vote on repeal.”

Republicans say they care about the deficit. They don’t. The care about staying in power. Their are major contradictions in their approach to healthcare.

First, these two things can’t both be true:

  1. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says repealing healthcare would cost the country $230 billion over ten years (in other words, the new healthcare law will save the country that amount over ten years
  2. Republicans say that “the healthcare bill does nothing to rein in costs.”

In their eyes, the reason it does not rein in costs is because Obama and the Democrats got it done. If Republicans had passed the same bill, they would embrace the CBO assessment about cutting costs.

Second, they say, “Let’s start from scratch,” but their “Pledge to American” says their version of a new healthcare bill has most of the same points as the one that passed. Why does their alternative plan have many of the same ideas? Because many elements in the bill poll very well as stand-alone items, even though the bill as a whole has been effectively demonized and is polling poorly. So which is it? Are these things a disaster for our system, as Speaker Boehner alleges, or are most aspects of the law good for America, as their Pledge to America would have a us believe?

Bottom-line,  it is not going to get repealed…ever. The fact say it is, by and large, a good thing for America. And Republicans have dig themselves into a whole, and they have to stay the course for the sake of power, and they are not looking out for the American people. Period.

See this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/06/AR2011010606159.html?hpid=topnews

About the bill: I am glad there will be fewer bankruptcies now (good for the economy and lending in general), fewer uninsured young adults who are in start-up jobs with no benefits (they can now stay on their parent’s insurance longer, and not go to the ER when problems hit—and it allows their employer to keep their costs low for these positions); no child will be uninsured as a result of circumstance beyond their control, and we will get better economies of scale to lower costs when another 30 million newly-insured citizens are force to cover themselves (and lessen the ER approach to doctor visits). I am glad the government is not going into the healthcare business, just expanding regulation of the private healthcare thieves insurance industry. I absolutely love that insurance companies now have to spend a certain percentage of their revenue on direct care (pushing them into a velocity-quantity financial strategy, rather than a “denial-of-care” profit strategy that harms individuals).

Still…we still have not fixed long-term Medicare cost projections; the law probably requires too much paper work from small businesses; and we need to force doctors/clinics/hospitals to publish their costs for consumers, with insurer incentives, to involve consumers in cost control.

At the end of the day, however, the healthcare reform bill is a great thing for Americans. One has to wonder, though, given their agenda, if  Republican leadership is good for America. I, for one, seriously doubt it.

Party Like It’s 1994!

November 3rd, 2010

The Republicans have tried their best to make 2010 the new 1994.  In 1994, after 46 years of Democratic control, the Republicans finally won the majority in the House. They remained in control of the House for 12 years until 2006, when the Democrats took back the House. From 2002-2006 the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Executive Branch. During that time they had the opportunity to implement everything important to them. What they did do (and didn’t do) is telling: They started an unprovoked war in Iraq. They tried to privatize social security (and failed), but did nothing to expand healthcare to millions of uninsured citizens. They did nothing to improve government transparency, but rather, they allowed illegal wiretapping. They did nothing to rein in unchecked spending, but instead set spending records and allowed no-bid contracts to private contractors such as Halliburton and Blackwater. When the Republicans now claim to want to fix healthcare, create transparency, and rein in spending, why would we believe them. We need to look closely at the Republican agenda. Why would we give them power, when in fact their agenda is against the interests of most Americans?

This week, they took the House, and picked up seats in the Senate. Commentators are trying to make sense of the shift. It can’t be the Tea Party, because very few of those candidates won. It isn’t a “mandate” of their agenda or a “referendum” on Obama’s party because a number of Democrats won, such as Cuomo as New York Governor, and Senate Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Rather, the shift was a predictable change that comes with most mid-term elections for a first-term president. But this time around, voters are disgruntled about the slow progress of the economy, and they took out their frustration at the polls. The problem with giving Republicans another chance at fixing the problems that they created is that they don’t have a different plan from what they have done in the past. That is, their plan  is to do what they have always done over thee past several decades.

Since the 1980s, the Republicans have basically used their “Starve the Beast” strategy. This strategy is basically to cut taxes (i.e., revenues) so that we can’t afford government programs. The ultra-rich are given special tax cuts, breaks, credits, loopholes, etc. Military spending is increased to suck up most of the federal budget. With less tax revenues they drive up the deficit, blame the Democrats, and scare the public about the mounting deficit. Once voters throw them out of office, Republicans happily leave behind a huge mess for the Democrats to clean up. Democrats now have to make the tough choices about spending and reviving the economy. While out of power, Republicans sit on the sideline and criticize anything the Democrats do to fix the mess, and even try to block anything that might help people, such as extending unemployment benefits. Republicans do everything they can to cut social programs that actually help people and create a middle class, and to cut taxes that would actually help us pay down our debt. They turn the public against Democrats with their rhetoric about “tax-and-spend-liberals,” and throw in a few words about abortion and gay marriage to please the religious right (but do nothing on these issues while in office). And then they bet on public amnesia to try to regain power in subsequent elections. This strategy has worked for them over the past several decades, but it has harmed our country.

Now that Republicans have reclaimed power in the House, what will be their agenda? » Read more: Party Like It’s 1994!