Posts Tagged ‘2012 election’

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Paul Ryan: Hero of the One-percent

August 12th, 2012

With Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, it is a good time to review just how extreme Representative Ryan and his fellow Republicans have become in recent years, and how a Romney/Ryan administration would govern if elected. In a previous post, we looked at the Republican agenda, explaining:

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.

In Paul Ryan’s opening speech as Romney’s running mate, he acknowledged that Obama inherited a mess, but did not mention what policies let to the mess in the first place. After acknowledging Obama inherited a mess, he went went onto say, “in his first 2 years, with his party in complete control of Washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda. But that didn’t make things better…This is a record of failure.” This is an interesting charge because Senate Republicans had a record-breaking number of filibusters (by a long shot) to block anything Obama and the Democrats tried to pass, including legislation to hasten economic recovery; and when the Bush Administration had control of both houses of congress they actually did pass many of their agenda items—and we know the economic outcome of those policies (if they had passed all of their policies, such as privatizing Social Security, it would be been even more devastating to the economy).

The Romney/Ryan ticket represents a return to the disastrous past; not only a return to the failed policies of the Bush years, but also a return to the militarism and inequality that characterize the Reagan years. Like most Republicans, Ryan reveres Ronald Reagan as a quasi-deity, theIncomes under Reagan from MotherJones Magazine 10.14.2011 ultimate leader of the free world. As we can see in this chart, the policies of the Reagan era were very good to those in the top 1%, but harmed everyone else.

A Romney/Ryan administration would be far more extreme in its approach to propping up the rich at the expense of the middle-class and low income families.

Romney’s choice to add Paul Ryan to the ticket sends a clear signal to all of us that he supports congressman Ryan’s extreme approach to fiscal policy, as outlined in his budget plan: “A Roadmap for American’s Future.” The Roadmap continues the conservative fear-mongering about deficit spending, which we have also addressed in a previous column, and offer the same old solutions that conservatives have espoused for decades: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for big business, and slashing the safety net—while pandering to the religious right by talking about traditional morals.

Ryan’s Roadmap is highly problematic. Dean Baker found 20 inaccuracies and 4 references to raiding Medicare in the Road Map. See this Critique of Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap by economist Dean Baker; and this report. See also Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s critique of the Roadmap. He points out that Ryan’s plan would reduce federal government revenues by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would add significantly to the current deficit (something Republicans seem to worry about on the surface). Krugman goes on to state that, “the Road Map wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich…even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.” This is exactly the opposite of the Obama plan to cut taxes for everyone except the ultra-rich, whose tax rate would return to what it was during the prosperous Clinton years, and would allow us to close the deficit.

Representative Ryan’s proposal, if implemented, would be a disaster for the economy and for working families, and would essentially redistribute wealth upward. Again, Ryan is really proposing the same destructive policies that have been pushed by Republicans for the past thirty years, usually with painful result for low-income and middle-class families. The bottom line is that Paul Ryan is the most extreme vice presidential candidate in a century (the guy requires his staff to read Ayn Rand!), as illustrated in the chart below.

Source.

In 2012, voters will have a choice about whether they want to live in a society of massive inequality and increased vulnerability for the majority of hard working Americans, or whether they will support the more-centrist approach that Obama and the Democrats are pushing, which, if Republican obstruction can be overcome in congress, can return us to prosperity.

See this fact check on the Romney/Ryan’s VP-announcement speeches.

DN Report on Paul Ryan

See also this report.

 

 

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Election and Campaign Reform

August 16th, 2011

Voting turnout in the U.S. remains among the lowest of all Western democracies. The U.S. ranks #139 in voter turnout of countries that have held elections since 1945. We have some important elections coming up in 2012. It is important that democracy prevails in these elections. Congress needs to reform our election laws to allow as many voters to participate as possible.

Michael Moore published a book called “Michael Moore’s Election Guide 2008.” He discusses some great ideas for improving our election process:

  • Hold all elections on the weekend
  • Make every citizen an automatic registered voter
  • Use paper ballots and a number two pencil (to avoid having votes not counted)
  • Have regional primaries so no one state has too much influence over the process
  • Limit the election season to 4 months for the primaries and 2 months for the general election;
  • Public financing, free air time, and spending limits for all politicians

Others have suggested compulsory voting as a way of increasing voter participation (source).

Another critical component to election reform is the issue of campaign funding. In 2010, the Supreme Court overturned long-standing election laws that placed limits on corporate funding of election campaigns. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision opened the flood gates for corporations to fund political campaigns. (See how this decision has impacted elections here.) The problem with this decision was articulated well in a dissenting oppinion given by Justice Stevens:

At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

President Obama also threw in on this decision:

President Barack Obama stated that the decision “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates”. Obama later elaborated in his weekly radio address saying, “this ruling strikes at our democracy itself” and “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest”. On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.” (source)

 Other Reactions:

The New York Times stated in an editorial, “The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.”[64] Jonathan Alter called it the “most serious threat to American democracy in a generation”.[65] The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the Court had declared “outright that corporate expenditures cannot corrupt elected officials, that influence over lawmakers is not corruption, and that appearance of influence will not undermine public faith in our democracy.”[66](source)

An ABC-Washington Post poll conducted February 4 to 8, 2010, showed that 80% of those surveyed opposed (and 65% strongly opposed) the Citizens United ruling which the poll described as saying “corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections”. Additionally, 72% supported “an effort by Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns”. (source)

In terms of solutions, at the very least we need to return to policies that existed prior to the Citizens United decision of 2010, which limited private campaign donations (hard and soft money). But going beyond this legislation, some have suggested a campaign finance amendment to the constitution. Some legislators have pushed an updated election repform bill called the “Fair Elections Now Act.” Another idea is the “Voting with Dollars” concept: “Yale Law School professors Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres in their 2004 book Voting with Dollars: A new paradigm for campaign finance.[7] All voters would be given a $50 publicly funded voucher (Patriot dollars) to donate to federal political campaigns. All donations including both the $50 voucher and additional private contributions, must be made anonymously through the FEC.” (source)

Regardless of how the campaign finance is reformed, most would agree that we don’t want corporations and the wealthy determining elections, and we want greater participation, and therfore, we urgently need serious reform. Contact your representative in congress today.

 

See also: