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Democrats Successfully Force their Hand During Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Negotiations

Democrats Successfully Force their Hand During Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Negotiations

Just a quick update on the outcome of the coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations.

Mitch McConnell attempted to ram through $2T spending bill that focused more on boosting big business than providing care for thousands of Americans suffering and dying from severe cases of COVID-19 (and thousands more to come) and alleviating the financial stress put on millions of Americans who suddenly became unemployed because of the coronavirus. Charles Schumer and the Democrats rightly objected to the Republican Senate’s bill and fought to focus on people instead of big business. The Democrats got much of what the wanted in the bill.

The New York Times reports:

The resulting measure is an attempt to sustain the workers and businesses that are losing income as vast sections of the American economy are shutting down under quarantine orders and to help the economy rebound quickly once the pandemic abates.

It includes direct support for companies large and small that have lost all or most of their customers in recent weeks, and direct payments to low- and middle-income families. The package also includes measures meant to encourage companies to keep employees on their payrolls even if their businesses have shuttered temporarily — and it increases aid to workers who are laid off anyway or have had their hours and wages cut back.

The measure will be the third legislative action taken by Congress this month to address the pandemic. Mr. Trump previously signed both a $8.3 billion in emergency aid and a sweeping package providing paid leave, free testing and additional aid for families affected by the pandemic into law.

In the final measure, lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would extend unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits, officials familiar with the unfinished agreement said. Democrats said that it would allow workers to maintain their full salaries if forced out of work as a result of the pandemic.

In the interim, lawmakers also agreed to provide $1,200 in direct payments that would apply equally to workers with incomes up to $75,000 per year before phasing out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child.

We haven’t seen a senate compromise of this magnitude in a very long time. Probably not since Mitch McConnell said in October 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”.

Bravo Democrats. It’s your time to lead. Keep doing it and do it well, then maybe President Trump will be a one-term president.

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Senate Republicans don’t care about people. They only care about big business, corporate donors, and their extremely wealthy friends. We knew that when a Republican controlled senate passed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. It gave huge tax cuts to corporations and provided a big tax loophole for pass-through income. The bill was advertised as a move that would lower taxes for workers and help businesses expand by providing them with more cash. Most workers saw very small decreases in their taxes and some actually saw their taxes go up a little, but businesses were left with a lot more cash in pocket and they used it to buy back their own stock to line the pockets of their already obscenely rich corporate executives. They did not increase investment any more than they would have otherwise and they did not provide any substantial increases in wages or benefits for workers. Some cities and states saw increases in wages because they mandated higher minimum wages themselves. Republicans in congress refused to increase the minimum wage like they always do.

Trump’s tax-cut was an expensive failure.

So they were fine with their 1.5 Trillion Dollar tax cut for the rich, but they aren’t so fine with a new and much needed coronavirus stimulus bill that will cost somewhere between one to two trillion dollars if most of that money is funneled to the people who really need it – the unemployed workers.

The Democrats focused their efforts on people first, not profits first. They would direct the money to the millions of people in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, ride-share drivers, salon workers, dental hygienists, etc.) who are all out of work. This is a huge sector of our economy. Workers need cash to buy food, pay rent and mortgages, and obtain healthcare – all urgent stuff. The stimulus bill should provide that urgent aid first. A one-time check in the $500 to $1,200 won’t provide the long-term aid they are going to need.

The spending should cover the cost of extending the unemployment insurance for at least a year or two. It should probably force large employers to provide sick pay for as long as is necessary for their workers to recover from COVID-19. The bill should prevent people from losing their jobs because of government-mandated work stoppages. It should make sure that everyone afflicted with the disease gets the healthcare they need regardless of whether or not they have insurance. To put it simply, the stimulus bill can’t be about “creating jobs” right now. It should be all about alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak, because it can’t help put people back to work until the pandemic is gone, and it looks like that isn’t going to happen for months.

The Republicans’ bill includes $5B for a corporate slush fund. It’s weak on worker retention and has loopholes. It’s treasury lending section is vague. It doesn’t provide provisions to protect people from evictions and foreclosures. It provides zero money for state and local governments. Is that because the states hardest hit are blue states? No additional spending on SNAP when the program will obviously be under extreme pressure. No direct payments for people who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It offers no help for the uninsured and no help for people with student loans.

What this all adds up to is, as James Martin wrote in The New York Times today, a Moral Evil. That’s suffering caused by the actions of individuals or, in this case, the inaction of individuals. And even worse; the deliberate redirection of resources that should be used to alleviate suffering of the most vulnerable people to the least vulnerable, most wealthy people in our country. That’s right. Who do you think will be the recipients of a slush fund?

Maybe enough Republicans in the Senate will read The Bible tonight and decide to do what Jesus would do (from the James Martin column):

Needless to say, when caring for someone with coronavirus, one should take the necessary precautions in order not to pass on the infection. But for Jesus, the sick or dying person was not the “other,” not one to be blamed, but our brother and sister. When Jesus saw a person in need, the Gospels tell us that his heart was “moved with pity.” He is a model for how we are to care during this crisis: with hearts moved by pity.

I’m not betting on it.

Conservative Shift on Unemployment Benefits: from George W. Bush to Frank Luntz

Conservative Shift on Unemployment Benefits: from George W. Bush to Frank Luntz

“These Americans rely on their unemployment benefits to pay for the mortgage or rent, food, and other critical bills. They need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down.” – George W. Bush, 2002

“You should not expect a handout. You should not even expect a safety net. When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it. I should have the savings, and if I don’t, my neighbors should pitch in for me, because I would do that for them.” – Frank Luntz, The Atlantic, 1/6/2014

Easy for him to say. He lives in a 14,000 square-foot mansion in Los Angeles. What if he lived in a modest house near the Jersey shore when Hurricane Sandy struck? Would his neighbors be able to pitch in? His neighbor’s neighbors? No.

I’ve heard this impracticable conservative pitch for replacing government assistance with charitable giving many times before. It may very well work on a very small scale like within your neighborhood or within your church or whatever, but it can’t work on a large scale when millions or, worse yet, tens of millions of people are affected by a natural disaster or a Wall Street disaster. Well not unless everyone gets paid millions of dollars like Frank Luntz is to sell his twisted political language to the Republican party and Fox News.

The 2014 midterm elections need not be a disaster for Democrats

The 2014 midterm elections need not be a disaster for Democrats

Conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats are in for a drubbing in the 2014 midterm elections. After all, polls show that Obama’s approval rating is at or near its lowest point in his presidency. The generic question of which party you will support in the next election now favors Republicans. And Obamacare may yet yield further frustrations in the New Year, particularly if computer glitches with the “backend” processing of enrollees on Healthcare.gov lead many to believe they have coverage when they do not.

Nevertheless, Democrats have a prospective domestic policy agenda that could help to confound CW – if they can summon the wisdom, courage and energy to push it forcefully.

For the 2014 campaign, Democrats can present their overall vision as one that maintains and even strengthens the social safety net for all Americans, increases the hourly wage of our lowest-income workers, and seeks to boost an already improving economy while simultaneously improving America’s international competitiveness. Key features:

A strong push to increase the minimum wage. Polling shows a strong majority of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. The president has proposed a national raise to $10.00 an hour. Some cities are considering an increase to $15.00 an hour, as one municipality in Washington State (SeaTac) has already done. Fast food workers have staged nation-wide demonstrations in support of higher pay for workers on minimum wage. With so many low-wage workers struggling to make ends meet without resorting to government assistance, it’s an issue whose time has definitely come.

Extending long term unemployment benefits. Republicans may face a backlash to their unwillingness to include such an extension in the budget deal concluded recently by Democratic Senator Patti Murray and GOP Congressman Paul Ryan. GOP reasoning that losing their benefits will provide a necessary kick in the butt for these unfortunates to find jobs is contradicted by most of the available evidence. Lack of effort is not the problem; studies show that employers are less inclined to hire the long term unemployed. The public’s sympathies, not to mention the genuine pain that will be inflicted on up to 4 million unemployed Americans over the next several months if this federal program is not extended, make this a compelling issue for Democrats.

Switching to offense on the Affordable Care Act. Whatever its initial travails, the ACA is starting to settle down and show its promise. About 2 million Americans have enrolled in private insurance plans through Healthcare.gov or state websites thus far, and more have signed on directly with insurance companies. An additional 4 million have enrolled in Medicaid in the last few months mostly under the ACA’s expansion but also including some who qualified previously but never enrolled. There is reason to believe that many more will enroll before the enrollment period expires on March 31st. Republicans, meanwhile, not only lack a health care reform plan of their own but are doing everything they can to impede the only one on the table. Most egregiously, 25 GOP dominated states have deprived 5 million of their own low-income workers of an opportunity to be covered under an expanded Medicaid. This can only work to the detriment of the GOP. Whether it comes quickly enough to help Democrats is an open question; but the latter at least have something substantive to argue for, whereas Republicans are left to do what they do best – nothing. Unless carping, bemoaning and obstructing is viewed as doing something.

Beyond these three issues, it’s past time for Democrats to produce a progressive tax reform bill that addresses the disproportionately favorable treatment received by the rich that has characterized tax legislation since Ronald Reagan. While raising rates for wealthy individuals, particularly on unearned income, such a bill could lower corporate tax rates significantly while ensuring that profitable corporations actually pay taxes. If President Obama is serious about making income and wealth disparity the defining issue of his second term, this is a good place to start.

Finally, Obama and Democrats need to push much harder for a significant investment in our crumbling infrastructure and to restore cuts to science and technology research spending. Not all debt is created equal; the benefits of investments in infrastructure, science and technology and education will more than justify borrowing the money to pay for them, a lesson Republicans never fail to grasp.

The contrast between an agenda such as this and a GOP one that consists primarily of destroying health care reform, not raising taxes on even the mega rich and slashing programs for the poor and middle class in their phony crusade for fiscal rectitude, is one that Democrats should not be shy of drawing in 2014.

Europe’s Plight a Warning for US Not to Follow GOP

Europe’s Plight a Warning for US Not to Follow GOP

Europe’s current doldrums are a dire warning to this country against the federal government pursuing a policy of austerity at a time of continuing slow economic growth. It is also a vindication of a Democratic congress and President Obama in passing the 2009 stimulus bill that cushioned the American economy at a critical time when the economy was in free-fall.

In particular, America’s admittedly modest 2.2% economic growth in the first quarter stands in contrast to the United Kingdom’s slip into recession in the wake of debt-fighting austerity policies pursued by its Conservative government policies which are widely admired by Republicans in this country.

It is more than likely that our growth in employment in the US has been slowed by misguided and pernicious austerity policies by state and local authorities; and these would be replicated at the federal level if Mitt Romney and the GOP congressional leadership had their way. It never made sense to lay off hundreds of thousands of public employees including teachers, police and fire employees, thereby losing not only their vital services but the economic impact of their personal spending.

If there was anything wrong with the stimulus it lay in its relatively modest size given the magnitude of the crisis, and that too much of it was given over to tax cuts (in a vain attempt to attract GOP support) that gave far less bang for the buck than aid to states and local governments, and infrastructure spending. In an ideal world, we would have enacted a second stimulus to build on the first (with even more aid to states) but, without any GOP support whatever, that was a political impossibility. Indeed, Republicans in congress have behaved in ways that suggest they had no real interest in seeing the economy improve.

Slashing federal government spending now in a recovering economy as Romney and the GOP propose at a time when the immediate need is more short term spending to lower the unemployment rate is simply stupid. Unfortunately, that has never stopped the ideologically blinkered GOP.

Buying American More Important Than Ever

Buying American More Important Than Ever

“Products made in China are cheap through the exploitation of the workforce. Every time we shop, we are driving the nail further into the coffin of American manufacturing jobs.” – Representative Joe Baca

To its great credit, ABC News in 2011 highlighted an important issue in this struggling economy that most Americans have thought little about. The series was titled: “Made in America” and began by demonstrating how clueless most of us are about where the stuff in our house, our driveway and garage and our workplace is made.

Selected families volunteered to have ABC news crews remove from their houses anything not made in the US. Predictably, the result was both funny but also quite poignant as nearly all of them found pretty much all their furniture out on the street and the occupants expressing shock, yes shock, that so little was American made.  In fact it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

Most Americans simply don’t think about where their goods are made. They’re used to seeing their TVs made in Korea and everything else in China and to be honest they’re much more interested in the lowest price than where their wares are made. Yet, according to Dianne Sawyer, the ABC News anchor, studies suggest that over 10,000 new jobs would be created if every American spent an extra $3.33 on American-made goods.

With so many Americans unemployed this is one thing those of us fortunate enough to have a job and a half-way decent income can do to help a significant number of Americans in the manufacturing sector who might otherwise lose their jobs and we might even, perhaps, create some employment if enough of us make the effort. 

In our house we’ve always had some awareness of the value of buy-American (well, excluding the kids I have to say) and in 2011 we decided to do some things we might otherwise have put off or spread out a bit.  Unfortunately, we started the year on a misfire by thinking we were buying a US-made car in our new Ford Fiesta only to discover later that the thing is made in Mexico – something I could have ascertained easily enough with a quick Google check. Apparently, there’s even a sticker that tells you the US-made content. Duh! Well, at least it’s a US company!

Undeterred, we bought a US-made Shaw rug for our living room, and a cherry bookcase made right here in Seattle by McKinnon Furniture to go with two other lovely pieces we bought from the same company several years ago. In replacing two outside light fixtures and installing a third, we eschewed cheaper foreign-made alternatives and used, instead, handsome new hardware from Vermont-based Hubbardton Forge that we ordered on-line. We have two indoor light fixtures from the same firm for our entry and dining room.

And you can find US-made stuff where you least expect it. New Balance still makes some of their athletic shoes in the US and I bought a pair to add to the three I have already.  A particularly pleasant surprise was Juicy Couture’s cute and fashionable plain hoody jackets, made in America, which featured prominently in our girls’ birthday and Christmas presents.  And North Star Trading Company of Whidbey Island, Washington was the source for two pairs of beautifully made sheepskin bedroom slippers (with rubber soles, I might add, that allow you to walk outside in them!). And this doesn’t include the craft items we bought on the Oregon Coast and in Seattle this year.

Buying American is an issue that transcends political affiliation, race, gender, age or religion. It’s something we can all do for our country at a time when so many are suffering economic hardship. Of course, we can’t roll back the clock to 1960 when only 8% of our goods were foreign-made. But if we remind ourselves of the importance of buying American, where this is an option, and make it an integral part of our buying habits, together we will be performing a valuable service to our fellow Americans, to the larger economy and ultimately to ourselves. 

The Lack of Universal Healthcare Hurts US Productivity and Competitiveness

The Lack of Universal Healthcare Hurts US Productivity and Competitiveness

Both the United States and the United Kingdom have struggling economies in the wake of the Great Recession with high unemployment rates and levels of economic insecurity. But consider this: In the UK if a worker loses or changes his job, his access and that of his dependents to that nation’s universal healthcare system remains the same no matter what. And he will never be billed a penny for any medical treatment he or his spouse or his children receive.

Contrast that with his American counterpart. Assuming that he is fortunate enough to work for a company that even provides health insurance, he is always vulnerable to the possibility of out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered under his plan. (Medical debt is the single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy in America. 62% of personal bankruptcies are the result of medical expenses, and 78% of them had some form of medical insurance.)  If he loses his job he also loses his health insurance. And to get covered under a new insurance plan will be difficult if not impossible if he or a dependent family member has a significant pre-existing condition.

The Affordable Care Act will ameliorate some of the most egregious features of the private health insurance market and the gaps in coverage. However, Republicans are committed to repealing the law. Medicare and Medicaid provide medical coverage for the elderly and very poor but both programs are under assault from the GOP under the pretext of reducing the budget deficit.

In an economy that is struggling for air many companies are saddled with burdensome overhead to provide health insurance for their workers. For example, it’s been estimated that healthcare costs add up to $2,000 to the price of a car made in Detroit. It’s no accident that US automakers have plants in Canada where wage rates are comparable but they don’t have the same burden of worker health costs. And these adverse effects on our industrial competiveness are by no means limited to the auto industry.

The current argument over entitlement spending misses the point. The fragmented nature of the American non-system of health care coverage is the problem not Medicare and Medicaid. The private insurance industry, with its inordinately high administrative overhead compared with, say, Medicare, has proven to be as inefficient and ineffective at slowing medical inflation as it is at providing affordable insurance to the poor and ailing elderly. That is why Medicare and Medicaid exist in the first place. Cutting the benefits or eligibility of these entitlements, therefore, as the GOP wishes will simply shift costs to those least equipped to assume the burden.

A universal health insurance system to share the cost as well as the benefits as widely as possible makes both moral and economic sense. Just ask the people of every other advanced nation in the world.

The Congressional Super Committee Must Fail

The Congressional Super Committee Must Fail

Yes it’s true. In order for our country to solve its unemployment and long-term debt problems, the Super Committee must become the Inept Committee.

As I write this, the Washington Post’s countdown-to-deadline clock reads “5 days 15 hours 40 minutes 47 seconds.”

The committee was formed as part of the solution to last summer’s debt-ceiling debacle. It’s made up of six Republicans, all of whom signed the Norquist anti-tax pledge, and six Democrats, all of whom are supportive of Obama’s plan to reduce the federal deficit with a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases.

A couple of weeks ago there was some movement by the Right towards the middle spurred by a bipartisan letter from 100 House Representatives that asked the Super Committee to consider all options including revenue increases. I wrote at the time that maybe they were influenced just a wee bit by the Occupy Wall Street, “We are the 99%” movement, but apparently not.  E. J. Dionne explains:

Finally, the Republicans decided they needed to look slightly flexible. So they came up with $300 billion in supposed revenue from a promised tax reform in a plan that also included a proposal to slash tax rates for the rich.

Surprisingly the Democrats did not capitulate and accept their ridiculous offer – yet.

If the committee doesn’t reach a deal, then automatic spending cuts will be triggered – including cuts to the defense budget – and the Bush tax cuts would expire after 2012. So, the anti-tax, pro-defense spending Republicans should be very eager to reach a deal with the Democrats in order to avoid what they would consider excessive tax increases and cuts to the defense budget.  Their revenue deal offered a trillion dollars less than what the Democrats want, and it included tax cuts for the rich. Why would they do that? Because when dealing with spineless Democrats, intransigence has proven to be the method that works best for them. For the past dozen years or so, the Democrats have almost always ended up caving in to their demands. This time let’s hope they do not.

Because the Democrats have not yet capitulated, the Republicans are trying to reverse the part of the deal that would cut military spending if the Super Committee fails. The Republicans say that the cuts would destroy jobs, and our country needs more jobs – not less.  But why is it that Republicans approve of job-creating government spending on wars, weapons, and military personnel but disapprove of job-creating government spending on education, first responders, and infrastructure rebuilding? And if military spending is so dear to Republicans, why won’t they ask their “base” to chip in by paying more income tax?

Paul Krugman explained quite well in today’s column:

… the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.

In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment. But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and slashing government spending is a job-creation strategy. Try getting a leading Republican to admit that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit or that sharp cuts in government spending (except on the military) would hurt the economic recovery.

Moreover, the parties have sharply different views of what constitutes economic justice.

Democrats see social insurance programs, from Social Security to food stamps, as serving the moral imperative of providing basic security to our fellow citizens and helping those in need.

Republicans have a totally different view. They may soft-pedal that view in public — in last year’s elections, they even managed to pose as defenders of Medicare — but, in private, they view the welfare state as immoral, a matter of forcing citizens at gunpoint to hand their money over to other people. By creating Social Security, declared Rick Perry in his book “Fed Up!”, F.D.R. was “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for many in his party?

Not me. The Republicans are ruthless in their quest to destroy our social safety nets and, as they say, “take our country back” to a time when working people were poor, died young, and existed only to serve plutocrats. You know… the good old days.

The Republicans are not going to budge on the revenue side, so the only way the Super Committee would not fail would be if the Democrats agreed to massive spending cuts on everything but the military and received no tax increases in return.

Dionne’s column says that the revenue increases that would kick in if the committee fails would amount to $7.1 trillion. It would be best to delay the tax increases on the middle class until the unemployment rate goes down, but given the choice of tax increases on the rich or tax cuts for the rich, I’ll take the increases.  Some of the increased tax revenue should be spent government projects that create jobs. The jobs will increase demand for products and services which will grow our economy.  It will take time, but not nearly as long as it would if the radical Republicans get their way and destroy jobs with drastic cuts to government spending during this severe economic downturn.

John Boehner is the Saddest Pumpkin in the World

John Boehner is the Saddest Pumpkin in the World

John Boehner was at the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s American Jobs Act bill.  (NYT story here.)

Just as you would expect, Boehner objected to Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for the program:

“It’s a very simple equation,” Mr. Boehner said. “Tax increases destroy jobs.”

To quote one right-winger’s comment on one of the articles, this is fiction. This post from August 16th clearly shows that there was job growth during the periods that taxes were highest, and that there was no job growth when taxes were lowest.

“And the joint committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.”

Maybe he should explain the link between the deficit and job creation to me. How is it that the deficit keeps companies from “creating jobs”? Besides, I’ll tell you what threatens job creation in our country – the greedy rich who have to have all the wealth, causing the middle class to shrink and the increasing the number of families living at or below the poverty level. When the masses have no money to buy anything, companies will have to ELIMINATE jobs to keep their profit levels up, meaning less money for the masses, meaning less buying – it’s a downward spiral. Their blind greed is biting the hand that feeds them, and eventually there won’t be a hand left to bite.

And “gimmicks” to lower the debt?! I guess cutting expenses is okay, but raising revenue is a gimmick?

Mr. Boehner also criticized a common talking point of some of his Tea Party members — that cuts in spending designed to take place in later years are not real, meaningful cuts.

“That myth is built on a healthy skepticism that spending cuts made today are going to be implemented tomorrow.,” Mr. Boehner said. “But it is a myth nonetheless, and we need to make sure it doesn’t stop us from doing what needs to be done.”

At least he acknowledges that the Tea Party is completely unreasonable and way too extreme.

But even so, Boehner truly is the saddest pumpkin in the world.

Radical Republicans Intend to Slash Government Spending for Millions in Need

Radical Republicans Intend to Slash Government Spending for Millions in Need

The next time you hear Michele Bachman or Rick Perry or John Boehner or any Republican for that matter, or some right-wing pundit expound on American exceptionalism, remember these numbers: 50, 46 and 41. Why? Well, 50 is the number of millions of people in America currently with no health insurance. And 46 million Americans now rely on food stamps to keep themselves and their families fed. And last but not least, 41st is where we rank in the world infant mortality rate table behind, among forty others apparently, Cuba.

There are plenty of other depressing statistics concerning the well-being of Americans but I’ll just mention two others: One in six Americans is going hungry or isn’t sure where the next meal is coming from and, for children, that number is an appalling one in four.  Feeling exceptional? No, me neither, or at least not in a good way.

The lack of health insurance for so many along with the infant mortality rate is a direct result of our current dysfunctional health care non-system. Unlike Americans, citizens of other countries do not lose access to health care coverage merely because they have been laid off.

The number of Americans who are seriously hurting in the current economy has exploded. All the more confounding, then, is the Republican Party’s destructive obsession with slashing government spending which betrays a callousness bordering on obscene in its utter disregard for the needs of ordinary Americans.    It’s not enough that most state and local governments, saving those shielded by oil and gas tax revenues, have been compelled to cut public service jobs and reduce services in this recession (Texas being an exception in that it has plenty of revenue sources but chose to slash state spending anyway).  Now the GOP has its sights set on the federal government.

It matters not at all to the Republican leadership or its base, of course, that millions of Americans will suffer as a consequence.  It’s not even a matter of concern that reducing government spending in a recession will likely hurt not help the economy.

In fact, doing further damage to the economy by reducing government spending is a huge bonus for the GOP that provides multiple benefits. For one, it will make it that much harder for President Obama to win re-election. It will further erode the electorate’s faith in government, already at its lowest level ever. One would think this would damage both parties but it mainly hurts the Democrats as the party identified with government, and helps the anti-government GOP. Never mind that it is Republicans who, through their bloody minded and fanatical behavior, have paralyzed government’s ability to act, made a circus out of something as simple and common-sense as raising the national debt ceiling, and done everything in their power to engender in the people the utter disgust they now feel.

The Republican hostility to government rests, ostensibly, in their visceral belief that it hinders rather than helps the nation through its expensive overreach and incompetence. The reality, however, is that today’s Republicans reserve their most intense dislike for the programs that work well, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Competent government is the real enemy that undermines the GOP’s ideology and reason for being. This is one reason they have set their sights on killing the Patient and Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats in 2010. With nothing even remotely worthwhile to replace it, the GOP is determined to kill this modest but necessary health reform bill and ensure that all the power remains with the health insurance industry.

It has never been more critical for Americans to inform themselves on these issues and see the Republican Party for the radical and destructive force it is, the party that is utterly incompetent when they hold the White House and the majority in Congress and wages the political equivalent of guerilla warfare when it doesn’t.