Posts tagged ‘Republican Party’

September 2, 2011

Tax Cuts as a Form of a Spending Program

by WIZ

 

 

 

The Republicans who loathe spending programs as a form of anti-Christian reliance in fact worship a program known as tax cuts, ironically a government program in itself:

The other way to look at these credits and deductions is that they’re essentially government spending programs in disguise. After all, if these deductions didn’t exist, then either the deficit would be smaller or everyone else could pay fewer taxes. A tax credit that subsidizes the construction of affordable housing is no different than an explicit grant to do the same thing.

In Washington, however, tax expenditures generally aren’t considered spending programs. They’re considered tax breaks. And, as a new NBER paper by Len Burman and Marvin Phaup details, this view has had enormously perverse consequences over the years. Politicians always prefer tax breaks to new spending programs. So Congress ends up enacting a disproportionate amount of social policy through tax credits and deductions, the paper said, and that, in the end, can actually lead to higher taxes and bigger government than would otherwise be the case.

Burman and Phaup found that total U.S. tax expenditures will amount to $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2011. That’s much, much larger than non-defense ($671 billion) or defense ($744 billion) discretionary spending. In other words, there’s a huge pool of federal spending that Congress doesn’t even consider to be spending. As the authors noted, “excluding income tax expenditures causes spending to be understated by about one-third.”

(Pictured: the 10 biggest tax expenditure programs for fiscal year 2011)

August 31, 2011

Islamophobia and Dieting on Paranoia

by WIZ

A study sums this up here. Money quote from Adam Serwer:

Until Republican leaders try to appeal to the better angels of their constituents’ nature — rather than feeding on and profiting from their paranoia — things are unlikely to change.

H/T: The Dish

July 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

by WIZ

“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

Republican candidate for president Gary Johnson.

July 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

by WIZ

“If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right,” – David Brooks, NYT.

H/T: The Dish

July 6, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by WIZ

June 27, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 1)

by WIZ

The passing on Friday of the New York state law allowing same-sex couples to marry (which kicks in in 30 days) was monumental. The population of the Empire State alone (19 some million people) outnumbers the five other relatively small Northeastern states (and Iowa /D.C.).

This law, and many other important events, are going to be almost magnified in importance as we approach the 2012 election. Each candidate, including the incumbent, will be asked what they think about the new law in New York, if it should or shouldn’t come down to the state legislatures deciding on such matters, and if this could possibly be a national law in the coming decade.

One of the major issues that stood out in crafting the same-sex marriage law in New York was religious protections for churches, organizations, and the like. The Right has let out some steam on this issue, comparing New York to North Korea and insisting that anti-same sex marriage is not anti-homosexuality but really pro-marriage. What has been surprising and refreshing is to see many members of the Right and Republican Party rebuke their own side and agree with passing this law. This floor speech is worth watching for it captures some of the roots of the small government / libertarian in most Republicans as well as religious protection:

Even Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has some nuanced respect for the New York law.

David True calls those paying attention to see that this law is not solely about saving same-sex couples from an encroaching government with its “moralistic” laws but ” it is about claiming the legal right (with the help of government) to make a huge commitment, indeed, one of the most profound and traditional commitments one can make.” True describes marriage as “an unfolding story”, one that can have “us appreciate what has come before” as well as recognize the “cultural revolution” upon us as part of the timeline.

Marriage in this view can even be compared to God. Both marriage and God are infinite spheres (the former of love and commitment, the latter of the same as well as a divine expanse of justice, judgement, and redemption). Neither can be fully grasped with words here on earth. If anything, words at times can hold these two back and muddle their true essences. In the end, participating with both provide more than words ever could.

(Pictured: The First Presbyterian Church of NYC on 5th Ave & 12th St., which was on the Pride Parade route. The congregants passed out water and hung a huge welcome banner, complete with triangles.

June 1, 2011

The Magical Mystery Tour of Sarah Palin

by WIZ

As I noted earlier today, Palin is making her cross-country trip, effectively rousing the people for a possible 2012 GOP bid. Palin is taking an unconventional route (no pun intended) in that she is purposefully eluding the press (and even her fans) and making them find her. In a sense, this tour will either give Palin the green or red light in terms of running in 2012:

According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s thinking, the tour is a test of whether she can do it “her way,” which the source described as “nontraditional, low-cost, high-tech…. The key is to be totally unpredictable and always keep her rivals off-balance.”

With that under-the-radar approach, Palin may have some gold up her sleeve:

Unscripted moments that go badly can haunt a politician on YouTube during a campaign and into the future, but Palin’s ease with a rope line and her politicking skills are one of her best assets. A Palin campaign may not have a press bus or the more formal interviews that reporters crave, but her team will undoubtedly factor in added time for her to greet supporters and campaign not just in large rallies but one on one as well.

The one major trait of Palin that could doom her chances is her divisiveness. Everything from her comments post-Tuscon to her Tweets, she polarizes the political debate to awful extremes (sometimes even cultural ones). Andrew Sullivan made this ironic point when she moved to Arizona, a state bitterly divided between the white, conservative north and the Hispanic south.

One other irony: Palin made the comment that she loves the smell of emissions. This comment could have many meanings behind it. It coincidentally was said by her the same day this report (eyes widen) was released:

According to the IEA, a record 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere last year, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. In light of these shocking numbers, experts now fear that it will be impossible to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change.”

Picture by Flickr user Dave77459

May 27, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by WIZ

May 26, 2011

Both Sides Incite The Race War

by WIZ

Of all people, Bill O’Reilly showed a few examples of how the Left really does sometimes incite racial anxieties:

Recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the moderator, David Gregory, questioned whether Newt Gingrich’s description of Mr. Obama as the “food stamp president” was a racist statement.

Mr. Gingrich told Gregory his question was “bizarre.”

It was also typical.

When Donald Trump advised the president to “get off the basketball court” and down to business, he was branded racist by a variety of mainstream pundits.

In my Super Bowl Sunday interview with Mr. Obama, I asked him if he was a football fan. Some loon on HBO immediately branded that question racist.

Even for me, those comments listed above are mostly far from racial flame throwing.

When certain yes-no questions are asked that usually intertwine one’s view of race and their political views, answers can draw a thick line in the sand pitting “the racists” against “the tolerant ones”:

These questions, which have been used in a number of studies of racial attitudes, asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements regarding the condition of African Americans in the United States including whether a legacy of racism and discrimination has made it difficult for blacks to get ahead, whether blacks have gotten less than they deserve in the United States, whether blacks would be as well off as whites if they tried harder and whether blacks should be able to overcome prejudice the same way other minority groups did, without any special favors.

Not coincidentally, one can arrive at the “resentful” answers to these questions not only through racism, but also through conservative beliefs. One might say blacks should “try harder” out of a belief that they are lazy — or out of a belief that in America, hard work produces results no matter the color of one’s skin, and is preferable to government aid. One might say blacks shouldn’t get “special favors” out of a dislike for them — or out of a belief that no one should get special favors on the basis of race. These conservative beliefs may be right or wrong, but they are not inherently racist.

Robert VerBruggen makes two mistakes in his piece. One, he insinuates that hard work, no matter your skin color, produces success. That is so far from the truth it is laughable. Tim Wise has dismantled this myth several times. Also, VerBruggen concludes that there is no actual evidence to support conservatives being labeled as racists. I then ask these questions: why is your party almost always represented by whites, hostile to immigrants, represented by race-baiters (Rush Limbaugh), supportive of wealthy (a homogeneous group of whites) business owners and CEO’s over the poor (who, mostly non-white, are because years of education being withheld to them, almost always behind their white counterparts in test scores, school performance, or even the chance of being unemployed)?

May 25, 2011

The Generic, Boring GOP Candidate For 2012

by WIZ

Tim Pawlenty. Dave Weigel provides a solid piece on him:

This is seriously unfair to Pawlenty, but you can understand what his party’s thinking. If prospective candidates were universities, and the Republican primary voter were a high-school senior applying to college, then Pawlenty would be the safety school. A bland, solid Midwestern land-grant university. The problem with a safety school, of course, is that no one’s in a hurry to RSVP “yes” to it. David Frum, who occasionally predicts that Pawlenty will win the nomination, puts it another way: “Predicting Pawlenty feels like reaching the wrong answer on a math exam. You do the calculation and you arrive at the answer, Pawlenty. You think: That can’t be right.”

This could be a similar issue with Gary Johnson’s campaign. How much do these two need to fire up the respective GOP and Independent bases to get the rousing support they need to compete?

Weigel also compares Pawlenty to Palin/Romney:

Why is Pawlenty such a hard sell to Republicans? It may be a matter of branding. Whatever a candidate seems to be, people try to find it in his speeches. Mitt Romney is branded as a guy who will say anything, so his speeches are combed for evidence of flip-flops. Sarah Palin is branded as an angry mom who’ll say anything and reaches the boiling point after the most minor insult; her speeches, tweets, and Facebook notes are read like the Kabbalah for more proof of the theory.

Daniel Larison sees shades of Mike Huckabee when he sees Pawlenty (as well as attributes possibly anathema or below par for the GOP base):

Pawlenty is a compromise candidate in a party that is largely tired of having to settle for what they can get. The few things that distinguish him and make him somewhat interesting to some conservatives, such as his working-class background and conversion to evangelical Protestanism, are things that make him seem to be just enough of a working-class Huckabee-like populist to give some Republicans pause. This means that people with money are probably going to be disinclined to give some of that money to him just as they were unwilling to support Huckabee financially.
Meanwhile, Pawlenty’s actual record is so reliably and generically mainstream Republican that he appears merely adequate rather than exciting.

May 25, 2011

The GOP In 2012

by WIZ

“If Huntsman or Romney wins the nomination, and then Obama wins the election, the GOP will quickly shift from “loosely tethered to reality” to “out of its freaking mind.”Remember, after its crushing defeat in 2008, the party faithful concluded that John McCain lost the election because he wasn’t conservative enough—and that George W. Bush lost his popularity because of his big spending. So the party moved even farther toward its right-wing base, casting away moderates like Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist and Michael Bloomberg. And its comeback victory in 2010 seemed to validate that strategy. A Huntsman or Romney defeat would just prove to the party that electoral salvation lies in ideological purity and rigid obstructionism, the kind of conclusion that already appeals to Tea Party activists who consider Obama some kind of tyrannical socialist usurper.” —Michael Grunwald, H/T: The Dish

Ain’t this the truth?

May 13, 2011

A Non-Traditional Tea Party Path

by WIZ

Here is one story.

January 12, 2011

Public Discourse and Mutual Target Usage

by WIZ

It seems that almost everyone is commenting about our public discourse being out of control. Since the town halls formed during the summer of 2009 in response to health care reform talks, a lot of posters, bumper sticker slogans, and conversations have crossed the line into invective, vitriol, and cynicism. Since the shooting of Rep. Gabrille Giffords, the president of Fox News issued a note to his station to “tone it down” and turn to a more “civil public discourse”. What a “more civil public discourse” looks like coming from Fox News is unknown to me.

As for the gun targets used by Sarah Palin:

Similar targets (bow and arrow perhaps?) have also been used by Democrats:

The Right has been accused lately (by lately, I mean since 2008) of violent rhetoric. I do recall a lot of hurtful rhetoric thrown Bush II’s way.

In the end, one close friend of mine explained to me a lesson from which she learned it from another friend of ours. My postings on here over the last few months were at times strident. It reflected a hard few months for me. I have since then started to work through some of my own anger and invective but have also looked to change my format and approach. These friends of mine explained to me that I can reach more audiences and readers by speaking to people in love and less strident tones (how diverse a spectrum of readers does Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter or Michael Moore attract?). An example of this is the writings of Dave True. In the end, I hope I can make a difference in this big national conversation table known as blogging.

November 20, 2010

Sarah Palin Quote for the Weekend

by WIZ

“After the 2008 campaign revealed her weaknesses on substance, Palin was advised by those who admire her natural gifts to bone up on policy and devote herself to governing Alaska successfully. Instead, she quit her job as governor after two and a half years, published a book (another is due next week), and seemed to chase money and empty celebrity. Now, rather than being able to highlight the accomplishments of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, we get “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” another cheesy entrant in the reality show genre. She’d so much rather be out dog sledding than in some “dull political office,” she tells the audience. File that.

There is no denying that Sarah Palin has been harshly, sometimes even brutally treated by the press and the news/entertainment gaggle. But any prominent Republican must expect some of that and be able to transcend it. She compares herself to Reagan. But Reagan didn’t mud wrestle with the press. Palin seems consumed and obsessed by it, as her rapid Twitter finger attests, and thus encourages the sniping. She should be presiding over meetings on oil and gas leases in the North Slope, or devising alternatives to Obamacare. Every public spat with Dave Letterman or Politico, or the “lamestream media,” or God help us, Levi Johnston, diminishes her.” –Mona Charen at Townhall

Here is a new York Times Magazine story I am reading on Palin. You have to sign up (for free, no strings attached, trust me) to see it all.

November 20, 2010

Republican Quote of the Weekend

by WIZ

The NY Times’s Ross Douthat, an avowed conservative writer, is interviewed:

RS: If you could wave a wand and change one thing about the GOP, what would it be?

Douthat: I suppose I would just create a stronger interest in actual policymaking, among elites and the grassroots alike. American conservatives have a popular mission statement — limited government, low taxes, strong defense, strong families — but they tend to just coast on its popularity instead of doing the harder work of figuring out, okay, *how* do we keep government from growing? What are our policies on health care and energy and education and everything else? How much defense spending do we really need? How can we make sure our tax cuts don’t explode the deficit? What public policies lead to stronger families? And the G.O.P.’s base, whether it’s Christian conservatives or Tea Partiers or whomever, often doesn’t do a good enough job of holding the leadership’s feet to the fire and demanding that they get specific. At the moment, this a particular problem with the spending issue: The Republicans just won an election promising to cut government without having to tell people what they’d cut. But it tends to be a problem across every public policy issue: Republicans just don’t think as hard as they should about what the actual work of governing entails, and Republican voters too often reward politicians for mouthing slogans rather than substance. It’s great that Marco Rubio can give a stirring speech about American exceptionalism, for instance — but in the long run, actual American exceptionalism will stand or fall on whether Rubio and others like him can figure out a way to bring the budget back into balance. And that requires policy specifics, and hard work, and probably some messy compromises. Rhetoric is necessary, but insufficient.

September 29, 2010

Misleading Ads Belittle Mysterious Groups

by WIZ

Confusing, isn’t it? The somewhat recent Citizens United Supreme Court case allows this to be legal but then allows for groups to hypocritically make adds against other “mysterious” politicians, campaigns, or groups. Enter Americans for Prosperity:

Weigel has more:

Americans for Prosperity, is funded by billionaire oil men, David and Charles Koch, to promote Republican candidates who support their right-wing agenda and corporate interests. The group has gone to great lengths to conceal information about its donors and their motives, but the New Yorker magazine recently revealed that this group has been quietly guiding the organizing efforts of the Tea Party — in other words, billionaire oilmen secretly underwriting what the public has been told is a grass-roots movement for change in Washington.