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Republican Pledge: Restore Scrooge’s America

September 26th, 2010 · No Comments · Economics, Politics, taxes, Wall Street

Remember good old Ebenezer? He was more concerned with his wealth than his family or his employees or his community. In other words, he was a Neoconservative Republican.

If you take seriously the plan released Thursday by the House of Representatives at a lumber yard outside of Washington, D.C., you are happily voting for good old Ebenezer. I suppose the Republican idea was that, if you are going to tack your manifesto up on the wall, you need someplace with real wood, like a lumber yard on which to tack it. The fact is, however, that most of their proposals were made of plastic, like cheap goods from China.

Well, OK…maybe that’s a little harsh, but not as harsh as the results will be if the Republican plan succeeds. The whole idea of this Pledge to America is to return to the days of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The problem is that the Neocon Republicans cannot tell the truth. The Republicans lied about Iraq. They lied about being compassionate conservatives and tried to end Social Security.

The Neocon Republicans lied about being concerned for restoring the economy and then voted in a bloc against every piece of stimulative legislation, including Bush’s TARP program which shored up the financial community and at the very least prevented another Great Depression. They lied about tax cuts actually increasing tax revenues. Instead we now have a $13 trillion budget deficit. They lied about the problem being Social Security. Social Security has been solvent since 1984, but the Republicans borrowed those surpluses to pay for tax cuts, but even that was not enough. Then they lied about it.

Who, in his or her right mind could believe these guys? No one should, and here’s why.

In case you just came back from a Star Trek convention to Mars, here is the problem. First, all Republicans have filibustered every piece of employment, business or economic legislation that would begin to restore the economy and jobs. Representative, “Tobacco John” Boehner himself made the point that he has voted not once but twice against: first, the stimulus, which saved and created 3 million jobs, then against Health Care Reform.

If Boehner and the Republicans had their way, the several million young Americans working in the marketplace or those unable to find work would not be on their parents health care plans until they are 26. Starting last Thursday, thank God and Obamacare, they are.

The first stage of closing the “donut hole” goes into effect immediately. Senior citizens on Medicare get $250 right away and in 2011 the price of many of the most often prescribed drugs will be cut in half.

The provisions that say that health insurance companies cannot deny children coverage if they have some illness, like childhood diabetes, went into effect. This means a lot for families, but it means more for the economics of state governments. They will save on those costs which they would normally be obliged to cover. The Republicans complain and worry about the health insurance corporations’ profits.

Effective last Thursday, you also cannot be dropped from a health care plan so long as you pay your premiums. Annual or lifetime limits are also not allowed any longer. Whatever happens, you will only pay whatever portion, if any, your plan requires, ad infinitum. Could that add up to more costs for health insurance companies? Yes, but it won’t even put a dent in the average CEO salary of $14 million a year.

Those are just the first steps of the health care plan that went into effect and which the Neocon Republicans want to repeal. They want to repeal the Obama health care plan for their friends in the insurance industry who are already feeling the heat from regulation for the People instead of the old Bush-era Republican concessions for them.

At present, there are no limits on what health care companies of all kinds—hospitals, insurance companies, doctors or pharmaceutical companies—can charge. With no limits on out-of-control CEO salaries, health care stocks have been making huge profits for those who own them or those who run the companies. It is like stealing from the American People.

Those provisions mentioned are now in effect for health care reform, changing and improving the lives of tens of millions of Americans. Other provisions, like the addition of over 100,000 new family physicians in the marketplace come later on. But they are coming.

The cost cutting measures with real teeth come in 2013 and 2014, like insurance exchanges created on a regional basis so that health insurance premiums will become more competitive and many other changes, altering the balance of power between insurance firms and the People. So let’s not “repeal and replace” a very good health care reform plan for all Americans. Forget the “Pledge” to do so.

But what about the Pledge to America as a whole? Is this even a valid document at all?

They start off by saying that the Democrats are not listening. Well, of course, someone like Democratic Senator Russ Feingold makes 70+ local town hall visits a year yet is losing in the polls in Wisconsin. So, how does that work for “listening” to the people? And the Republican “listening” was basically done at their own site and no one had even heard of it.

Listening to people talk about their problems was how the health care reforms came about. The Democrats listened and created Obamacare, the proposal that the Republicans, the health insurance industry and people like Rick Scott have fought every step of the way. Remember the dire, but fictitious, warnings about the “death panels?”

Remember the “government takeover?” The people who spread those lies were some of the same people who were fined a billion dollars for fraud and are now back in the marketplace, making millions again and trying their best to defeat reforms. Why not? They are literally getting away with murder.

The main Republican message is this: “government policies create massive uncertainty” and this…they say…is why banks aren’t lending and consequently why businesses aren’t growing and hiring. And the government is “out of control.”

Actually, despite the fact that government has lost about $330 billion in revenues in each of the last two years from income tax not paid by people out of work, and from increased costs of $330 billion for unemployment benefits to keep those people alive until there are jobs again, the budget was actually reduced last year over the previous (last Bush) budget year by 8%.

Of course the Republicans lie about these things anyway, so it is not surprising that they would not have mentioned that little fact.

Remember, it was not the Obama policy that created 15 million people out of work. It was not the Obama policy that caused the great Bush Wall Street crash of 2008 where $7 trillion dollars in wealth evaporated overnight. And it was not the Obama policies that allowed the home mortgage industry to speculate and offer worthless mortgages and worthless mortgage-based securities scams to rob Americans of their entire retirement equity.

It was not the Obama Administration that allowed $45 trillion…trillion…in credit default swaps, more than could ever be redeemed, to be sold to investors all over the world. It was the hands-off, government-hating policies of the Bush-selected Neocon regulatory supervisors who looked the other way while the world was cheated.

Now, the Republicans like John Boehner and Marsha Blackburn and Mike Pence who supported this greed and lax supervision to try to bring down the government want another chance to do it again.

The Republicans say that the Democrats “refused to listen” to Americans. But of course, polls show that the policies that the Republicans say that Americans want are actually merely the policies that rich Republicans want. They haven’t been listening. That is the first big lie.

The Republicans say that they have a plan to:

–create jobs. They don’t have a plan to create jobs. And they have refused to vote for any plan that does try to create jobs. This is simply false. Period.

–end economic “uncertainty.” They want to change the subject on why the big banks are holding on to money. The Republican sponsors in the financial community don’t like regulation. There is no uncertainty. They could invest today if they wanted. The problem is the greed of Neocons on Wall Street.

–make America more competitive. This is an out-and-out lie. They support free trade which means sending jobs overseas. They have supported every measure that outsourced jobs to foreign countries. These Neocons are beholden to big corporations who want the jobs to be in China.

–cut wasteful spending. This is stupid. They are the ones who did all the wasteful spending, then crashed the economy and now want to cut “wasteful spending?” They want to cut unemployment for those whom they put out of work and Social Security and Medicare. That’s their idea of “wasteful.”

–reform Congress. No one knows what in the hell that even means.

They say that we are the exceptional nation of this earth. Well, if you take the advanced nations, we are the exception. We are the only advanced nation that limits legal minimum vacation to only two weeks a year. We are the only one without universal health care.

We are the only advanced country without a retirement program rather than a mere stipend. Most countries have national retirement plans of about 40% of the person’s average working income.

We are the only country that lets unemployment benefits run out in two years or less. Most have a substantial part of income…30 to 40%, per year for up to 4 years. Some pay a higher percentage than that. These are Populist democracies.

The Neocon Republicans say that, until recently, our tomorrows held more promise than our yesterdays. Well, of course they did. If, by “recently” one means the last 30 years, “promise” has meant that the rich would become richer, with the top 1% doubling their wealth and middle class incomes going down.

The middle and lower classes have become indebted to credit card companies and banks. The average working family has lost a substantial part of the equity in their largest asset, their homes. Many lost fixed pension plans and seen their 401K programs vanish when huge corporations over leveraged and bankrupted their companies.

Executives got big parting gifts, sometimes millions of dollars annually for years. Employees got the unemployment line. Companies have gambled with their stocks, been absorbed into even larger corporations which then combined workforces, laying off thousands and sending other jobs overseas.

This is the truth and the recent history of Republican government under Bush. Now the radical, superstitious, ignorant and ideological fools in this country indicate in polls that they want more of this? They want to elect brain-dead candidates to do more of the kind of wholesale slaughter of government that characterized the term of the moron Bush?

There is no such thing as a valid…a meaningful…”Pledge to America” by Republicans. Do you want proof? Do you have the basic ability to reason and make judgments?

Consider this carefully. The Republicans do not want, in fact, are fighting against the retirement of that portion of the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthy. They say it is because they don’t want to harm the economy.

Here are the facts…and by the way…they know these facts very well.

1. The tax cuts would go primarily…the biggest amounts…to those in the top .5% (top one-half of one percent.) Those people already have, literally, more money than they can spend. Literally.

2. The Republicans say that their biggest goal is to reduce the deficit, cut spending. Not only did they spend an average of about $1 trillion a year more than we took in during the 8 years of Bush, but these tax cuts that we would now retire would actually reduce the deficit by $700 billion.

3. The resulting tax increases will not hurt the economy. A study done while Republican Douglass Holtz-Eakin was head of CBO said that tax cuts do not pay for themselves—at most…most…pay back 20% and that overall they can only be shown to have less than 1% effect on the economic outcomes one way or another after they are in place.

4. Eliminating those tax breaks, cutting military costs, ending wars…all of which (Republican) Secretary of Defense Gates is working on right now will have an effect on deficits. Money is money. And when you don’t spend it or give it in tax breaks, you have it in the Treasury.

But Neocons don’t like that either. They want to start up “Star Wars” again…even though we have no large missile-bearing enemy who poses a threat. We already have existing defenses that have prevented attacks for the last 60 years. We already have the latest technology.

So, given the fact that it is clear that the Neocon Republicans are being, shall we say, disingenuous about spending, about budgets and about smaller government, why should we believe anything they say? Yet many do.

Many continue to swallow the Republican lies, listen to fools and corporate propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who lie to the People repeatedly. Their entire programming is designed by their billionaire corporate sponsors to tear down the President, and thus defeat the will of the People.

Bush said he was a compassionate conservative. Yet, he tried to eliminate Social Security, foisted a $600 billion prescription drug bill on the People instead of forcing lower drug prices. In fact, he actually prohibited lower drug prices for Medicare. He gave his rich pals a $120,000-per-million tax cut over ten years that cost government, therefore the People, $3 trillion.

These Neocons in Congress talk about “taking back our country.” Well, the People have their country back. Nancy Pelosi’s congress was elected in 2006 and has done a splendid job over the past four years since 2006. They reinstituted paygo rules. They fixed the Veterans’ Department. Then President Obama stepped in and started health care reform and reined in Wall Street and credit card company speculation.

The people to whom the Republicans want to return the country are the rich and the banks and the major international corporations…and the health care industry. They have been restrained for the last 4 years by the Democrats, despite over 400 Republican filibusters of new laws to help the People.

They want to return the country to racists and bigots like Jim DeMint, the successor to Strom Thurmond, who wants to basically resume segregation in South Carolina schools and disgrace the United States in the eyes of the world.

They talk a lot about Freedom, and returning to the principles in the Constitution. But that is not what they would do. The more we turn the clock back towards slavery, the more we oppose the Constitution. The more we seek concentrations of economic power in the hands of a wealthy elite, the more we oppose the principles of the Constitution.

They want to reduce “burdensome” regulations. The fact is that the entire Tea Party movement was originally funded by Koch Industries to avoid paying millions of dollars in fines for pollution.

It is the attempt by major corporations, like GE who polluted the Hudson River, and who own tens of billions to the government for super fund site cleanups, to avoid environmental obligations to the People. This is what Republicans mean by “oppressive” regulations.

As far as the bail-out and TARP was concerned, that was done by President Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, a former Goldman, Sachs Chairman. He knew how to get money from Congress. The Democrats put the restrictions on TARP that meant that almost all the money has been returned to the Treasury. Actually the People made money on the interest.

If the Republicans are serious about reducing costs, they will encourage the retirement of all the Bush tax cuts. That will bring the annual deficits way down and stabilize the dollar and improve the economy immediately.

That will reduce costs, according to the Congressional Budget office, by $100 billion a year over the next ten years. And the $500 billion in taxes that it supposedly costs for health care reform are actually taxes on very rich individuals and those who abuse tobacco or cause other health hazards to the community.

The health industry has brazenly begun to step up even their own rate increases in anticipation of the controls sure to come under health care reform. Some areas raised rates as high as 39%. This should prove to average citizens who would support Republicans that the Neocons are not on their side. They support the health care industry.

The Republicans say that we need tort reform and health savings accounts. It cannot be reported too many times (to counter these stupid lies) that tort costs are about .46% or about a half-percent of all health care costs. Health care costs are 17% of GDP or about $3 trillion. So that means that they are $1.5 billion a year, at most, a tiny, tiny fraction of the problem, but a serious problem for incompetent, lazy, stupid or drug-addicted doctors.

The Pledge wants to substitute HSAs, Health Savings Accounts for health care reform. Here is how a Health Savings Account works. You put $10,000 in a tax-free savings account and you get an insurance policy with a deductible of $10,000.

The first ten grand is on you. During the time you are spending your own money, you are also paying (who knows how much?) premiums to a health insurance company. What assurance do you have that the health insurance company will not simply raise the rates? None. Use your head. If this were as simple a solution as it sounds, President Obama would have saved himself a year-long migraine.

The Republicans said that they do not want to see Congress “pass domestic legislation on the backs of our troops.” Once again, a meaningless statement for which they offer no further explanation.

Second, Neocons don’t want us to “coddle” the Afghan war prisoners who suffered torture and still languish, 9 years after the war started in a prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Why are these people still there? If the Geneva Convention is still in effect, does it mean we are OK with our soldiers being in prison forever if they are captured?

The Neocons like the Arizona immigration laws, yet they say that they like the Constitution that these laws violate. They want to shut down the borders but they don’t want to fine corporations for hiring illegal workers.

They want to stop Hispanic-looking people, ask for I.D. and if they do not happen to be carrying one, arrest them and send them to Mexico. Meanwhile, President Obama has tripled the forces fighting illegal aliens on the border. Illegal immigration is the lowest it has been in recent memory. .

Finally, the Republicans want to prevent unions from getting any kind of foothold. They don’t want unions to improve worker conditions as they did with the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, paid holidays and safe working environments.

They want to defeat “cap and trade” which is a sensible policy to put alternative energy programs for wind, solar and thermal on incentives, which will create more alternative energy and create new industries and new jobs.

But Neocons do not support anything that deflects attention from drilling for oil. The rejection of cap-and-trade legislation is a way of rejecting alternative energy and continuing to import 60%-70% of our oil, enriching the very people who want to kill us—while enriching our oil companies.

So that is their pledge—to basically restore the Freedoms of the Bush era. They want to return to the good old days of outsourcing jobs to China, lowering U.S. workers wages, defeating union organizing, stopping pensions, 401Ks, and ending Social Security. We should all have only one pledge.

We should have our own pledge. Our should be that we will never elect any of these scoundrels to office ever again.

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