Tea Partisanship

Entitlement programs don’t imply that people have some childish sense of entitlement as some Republicans would have us all believe; the programs are precisely referred to as such because we are entitled to receive them.

Boehner and ObamaPart IV of The Season of Our Disconnect

Perhaps the best, most succinct commentary I heard regarding the acrimonious debt ceiling debate was during a BBC broadcast this past week. When asked what the sentiment was in Europe regarding the countdown to American debt default that Congress narrowly avoided on Aug. 2, the reporter said there was a sense of bewilderment that the United States would voluntarily default on its obligations when so many countries were struggling against doing so involuntarily. Not only did this highlight how silly the entire debacle really was but there’s something about hearing it delivered in a British accent that makes it sound all the more ridiculous.

The Republican Party, of which I have been affiliated with since coming of voting age, has never behaved so badly. This is a party that touts itself as pro-business and anti-tax, with every member running amok trying to out-Ronald Reagan one another. Yet anyone who runs a business will tell you that cutting costs can only achieve so much and that, at some point, revenue has to increase proportionate to the growth of expenses. Theoretically that means these pro-business Republicans should recognize the need to increase revenue, i.e., taxes, and any increase in revenue should be ascribed to expenditures with no direct, offsetting revenue line.

Since the greatest single unfunded liability in America is defense and military spending, which accounts for 25 percent of the budget, this area seems like the most logical place to cut expenses. Instead, the Republican Party has waged an all-out assault on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which Americans have fully supported for decades. They demonize these programs, sullying them as “entitlements,” and deriding them as welfare-like benefits for ungrateful, undeserving idlers living off the government teat.

Entitlement programs don’t imply that people have some childish sense of entitlement as some Republicans would have us all believe; the programs are precisely referred to as such because we are entitled to receive them. Why? Because we have already paid for them. Check out your pay stub – it’s called FICA. Republicans are trying to terrify Americans with the misleading threats of disappearing future Social Security payments and dwindling Medicare coverage because they’re trying to obfuscate the fact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost the nation nearly $3 trillion between the direct cost of the engagements and subsequent social costs such as veteran care. There’s no pre-tax line item or fee for “Wars We Didn’t Ask For” on your paycheck. We have been giving the government the funding necessary to keep these programs alive for generations and they keep blowing money on conflicts we never wanted. Giving the American government Social Security and Medicare funding is like lending cash to your meth-addict uncle who promises he’s on the wagon and just needs a few bucks to get back on his feet. He’ll disappoint you every time.

And then there’s Reagan. True-blue Republicans who like to evoke imagery of the Gipper could use a refresher course and a reminder that when President Reagan cut taxes in the beginning of his administration, the jobless rate jumped above 10 percent (higher than under Obama) and the federal deficit grew to a then-unprecedented level. Desperate to get things under control he raised taxes seven times during his administration and increased federal spending so much that he left office with a tremendous deficit despite myriad tax hikes. Moreover, total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was more under Reagan after his initial tax cuts than they are today and we just fought two, decade-long wars. Middle-class Republicans should also recall how Reagan nearly doubled the Social Security withdrawal (your money for “safe keeping” remember) but capped it at a certain income level. Or as Matt Taibbi writes in his recent book Griftopia: “That means that a married couple earning $100,000 total will pay roughly the same amount of Social Security taxes that Lloyd Blankfein or Bill Gates will.” This was nothing short of a heist on the middle-class in America, the memory of which is something today’s Republican leaders have entirely backwards.

Throughout the tenure of the Obama administration, Republicans, who are working to please Tea Party activists−the lowest common ideological denominator in the GOP−have continued to distort Reagan’s legacy and persist in blowing up America’s revenue line while adding unfunded liabilities on the expense line. Now they’re smashing our piggy banks to pay for their transgressions while continuing to extend the most favorable corporate tax environment in the history of the country.

Dig this. According to the Congressional Budget Office, corporate income tax accounts for only 1.3 percent of GDP (compared to individual income taxes, which are 6.2 percent of GDP). The last time it was this low was in 1983 when corporate tax was only 1.1 percent of GDP and the federal deficit was so big Reagan increased taxes every year thereafter. According to the Brookings Institute, the last time corporate income tax receipts were so low was in 1940. In the 1950’s, the golden era that Republicans really love to imagine reliving, the average was 4.76 percent of GDP. That’s quadruple what it is today. Shrinking corporate tax receipts is just one of a host of lopsided tax issues that favor corporations and wealthy Americans and force the government to borrow eye-popping sums of money.

The Democratic Party under the feckless and waffling leadership of Barack Obama has likewise capitulated to the right wing lunatic fringe. Because Democrats aren’t putting up a fight and caving to every unreasonable demand made by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Tea Party’s whipping boys, a corrosive new partisanship has emerged in America. Ignorant, ill-informed zealots running a government against the people have officially hijacked Abraham Lincoln’s government of the people, by the people and for the people.

 

Republican Party (1856 – 2010)

There is nothing grand about this old party that preys only on the enmity of the populous. There is nothing admirable or principled about fear mongering. Where are the inspired solutions that made this party great?

GOP Pelosi Image
Here you go, kids: Thinking about becoming a Young Republican? Log onto www.gop.com today to find out more about hate mongering and propaganda!

I don’t care much for the health care bill or the process it went through, but I applaud the intent. Rather than dissecting the bill I would like to offer a quick message to the Democratic Party. Then, if you don’t mind, I would like to speak privately with my party, the Republican Party.

Democrats—please refrain from referring to this bill as an “overhaul” of the system. While it is indeed reform, it doesn’t cure the inherent flaws in the system. No, I haven’t read all 2,500 pages of the bill yet, but cutting Medicare reimbursements and treatment options, while increasing public access to pharmaceuticals, goes against my beliefs. I’m also incredulous at the Congressional Budget Office’s suggestion that this will reduce the deficit. Please don’t insult American intelligence. Having said that, providing the opportunity for 32 million Americans to visit a doctor for the first time outweighs any issues I have with this bill. Just call it a start, not an overhaul.

Now onto my dear fellow Republicans. (And to the guy who clips out my column and scribbles ironically, “Hey Asshole, don’t you know any better words?” whenever I curse, the answer is yes. But today I just can’t seem to find them.)

Republicans are shouting and spitting like a bunch of fucking hyenas as they clamor for face time in the media. They’re filling our inboxes, vandalizing our social networking profiles and polluting the airwaves with venomous messages rebuking the Obama Administration over health care. HEALTH CARE! My fellow Republicans are tearing this nation apart over providing medical care for those less fortunate. Not bank bailouts, war, or wasteful pork spending— Health care. Really?

The behavior among elected Republicans and the dimwitted TV pundits who are whipping America into an absolute frenzy is the worst thing about this bill and has led me to question my long-standing affiliation with the Republican Party. For a moment, I thought it was me; that maybe I had changed and lost touch with Republicanism. So, in seeking to refresh my recollection of what this party stands for, I logged onto the GOP home page.

What I found was as pathetic as it was cartoonish. A complete embarrassment. The site opens to a fiery red screen with Nancy Pelosi, fists and teeth clenched in a fit of rage against a backdrop of flames, with the words “Fire Pelosi” in bold letters emblazoned on the screen. This buffoonery doesn’t torch Nancy Pelosi—it’s Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Abraham Lincoln who are torched by the flames of dissent and hatred that now embody this once-great party.

Going deeper in the site only serves to highlight the confusion within the GOP. It lists the accomplishments of the Republican Party since its inception and its own core values of today. It proudly claims responsibility for freeing the slaves, establishing Howard University and outlawing the Ku Klux Klan. It touts Republican leadership in writing the 19th Amendment, passing two civil rights acts and ending racial segregation in Little Rock. The list spans two centuries of achievements such as these and others that today seem more in alignment with the Democratic Party, like establishing Yellowstone National Park, building the federal highway system and authoring welfare reform.

This is the party I belong to.

But the current “platform”—if you can call it that—lists only six ideals. The power of the individual, voluntary giving, limited government, low taxes, less regulation and national strength. That’s what it says, but what it practices is hate, because hate sells when the chips are down. Well, here’s the newsflash: The strong Republican individual who enjoyed low taxes, limited government and less regulation didn’t voluntarily give a hand to the 32 million people under eight years of Bush Jr., four under Bush Sr. and eight under Reagan. And the eight under Clinton? We Republicans killed health care then too. So, no. The “voluntary giving” portion of the agenda hasn’t worked.

This bill is what we get for not doing something sooner. Now the Republican Party is calling for true health care reform and vowing to still kill this bill? NOW? Too bad, so sad. Too little, too late. Everything that is wrong with this bill is the fault of every loser in office with an (R) next to his or her name.

From the realm of beyond ridiculous comes the conservative movement. The growing number of so-called “Tea Party” activists are hunting their own, outing those they call Republicans In Name Only, or “RINOs.” They have taken their vituperative agenda to the streets, hurling racial epithets at democratic lawmakers and preaching angry messages to Fox’s ravenous cameras. Television ratings and voter ire are feeding off one another and creating a vortex of hatred that has gone viral and beyond.

There is nothing grand about this old party that preys only on the enmity of the populous. There is nothing admirable or principled about fear mongering. Where are the inspired solutions that made this party great?

I’m calling it. I hereby officially pronounce the Republican Party dead. The GOP died suddenly on March 23, 2010 from a diseased mind and heart. It was 154 years old. The son of Ronald Reagan, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln is survived only by bastard stepchildren who have squandered the family fortune and sullied its good name.

 A plague on all of your tents, I say. I renounce my allegiance to those who cloak themselves in the shroud of Republicanism without understanding what it means to be so. I stand firmly by the glorious list of accomplishments from which these whores have divorced themselves and await the day a new breed of Republicans rediscovers the true meaning behind the core values of this party. Until then you have lost my vote of confidence and, more importantly, my vote. When you do return to your collective senses and stand for something other than hatred and dissent, I will be there, because a real elephant never forgets.