Barack Obama: Republican Savior?

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase.”

—John Boehner, October 6, 2013

Clearly, as MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and others suggested this morning, Republicans have poll-tested the word “conversation,” as applied to the sad impasse in Washington. John Boehner used that word around twenty times during his squirmy 14-minute appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. I took the time to string together his use of the word in order to demonstrate how desperate the Speaker now is:

…we asked to sit down with the Senate and have a conversation…that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation…We’re interested in having a conversation…it begins with a simple conversation…It’s about having a conversation…It’s time for us to sit down and have a conversation…Let’s sit down and have a conversation…It’s not their fault that the leaders in Washington won’t sit down and have a conversation…The president is saying, I won’t negotiate. I won’t have a conversation…Even though President George Herbert Walker Bush had a conversation about raising the debt limit…The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation…And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us…And the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to sit down and have a conversation…My goal here is not to have the United States default on their debt. My goal here is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and driving the debt up. And the president’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation about this is putting our nation at risk of default…The president canceled his trip to Asia. I assumed — well, maybe he wants to have a conversation…I’m willing to sit down and have a conversation with the President…I’m not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation…I’ve been willing to sit down with the president and have this conversation...George, I’m ready for the phone call. I’m ready for a conversation...

That’s about one and a half per minute! How embarrassing was that appearance? How weak is this Speaker? How dumb is he? Or, rather, how dumb does he think we are?

Republicans in the House started all this madness with a weird jihadist desire to defund and destroy ObamaCare, then they said they would settle for delaying it, and now they say all they want to do is talk to Democrats, or to put it in the revealingly passive construction favored by Boehner, “have a conversation.”

Yikes. John Boehner is a pitifully puny leader whose desperation is apparent to all, except maybe himself. And what he is really asking President Obama to do is to bail him and his Tea Party friends out of a jam, a dangerous jam that threatens to wound the country for a generation or more.

How ironic it is that establishment extremists in the Republican Party need the Scary Negro in the White’s House to make some kind—any kind—of “deal” to get them off the hook and save them from Ted Cruz and the other anti-establishment extremists in the GOP.

How delicious it is that Barack Hussein Obama holds in his socialist, Kenya-birthed hands the fate of the Grand Old Party, which would surely suffer incalculable damage from the economic disorder and chaos its members say they are about to bring upon Americans.

Speaker Boehner confirmed—yes, he confirmed—Stephanopoulos’ characterization of a Treasury Department report saying that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be “unprecedented and catastrophic,” that “credit markets could freeze,” that “the value of the dollar could plummet,” that “U.S. interest rates could skyrocket,” that “the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world,” and that “there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.”

Stephanopolous asked Boehner, “Do you agree with that assessment?” And the Speaker replied: “I do. And the President is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to sit down and have a conversation.”

Yes, it’s all in the President’s hands. If he would only sit down and talk it would all be over. It’s that simple, said Boehner. Except, of course, it isn’t.

We all know that establishment Republicans are hoping that the President, at the last minute or before, will swoop in with some concession and save them from themselves, from their cowardice, from their failure to stand up in force to the Tea Party nuts they have so willingly used to endlessly attack the President since his election in 2008.

Political pundits are fond of talking about the extremism of a “small” group of Tea Party Republicans in the House. But these pundits rarely make the point that it is Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Roy Blunt and other establishment players that make possible the antics of teapartiers. Establishment Republicans are deathly frightened of what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will say about them if they dare to loudly and publicly call out the extremism and stupidity of the anti-establishment zealots that are leading their party, and possibly the country, to ruin. So, they need Barack Obama’s help.

And the President should not help them. I repeat: he should not help them.

Establishment Republicans should do the dirty but necessary work themselves or else risk sullying their party’s name and reputation for years, and elections, to come. A Democratic President should not be the savior of an out-of-control Republican Party, many members of which don’t give a damn about the welfare of the country if it means abandoning their ideological Allah.

The American people finally, if painfully, need to find out what has happened to a once-proud political party, the party, for God’s sake, of Abraham Lincoln. And Americans, many of whom are still suffering from the foolishness of Republican economic philosophy, need to know just how far this very non-Lincolnesque party is willing to go in service to a very strange and destructive god.

Corporate Crybaby-Callboy

Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Whiners Commerce and the biggest crybaby big-bidness lobbyist in the country, was on The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd this morning.

Naturally, Donohue was asked about Republicans’ willingness to use the debt ceiling as a negotiating tool and how that might hurt the economy. Donahoe’s biggest worry, of course, is not the economic chaos that flirting with default would bring, but it is our entitlement programs, which, he says, are soon going to consume the entire budget.

I will only post a tiny part of the interview, but before I get to it, I want to show a big, fat graphic that MSNBC put up during the segment:

corporate profits

As that— “the largest after-tax profit quarter in the nation’s history” — fires up your synapses, as you contemplate how much whining these corporate bastards have done about Obama’s allegedly bad-for-bidness policies, follow this:

CHUCK TODD: Corporate profits are up. A lot of corporations have money. Why aren’t they spending that money on creating jobs?

TOM DONOHUE: Well, they have a very serious question—and I hope you’ll do a show on this—the real cliff that’s really scaring us now is the regulatory cliff. They don’t really know how all this Obama health care is gonna go…You look at Dodd-Frank—we’ve only done 25% of the rules—you look at what’s coming out of the EPA, you look at what’s coming out of the Labor Department—

CHUCK TODD: You really believe it’s regulation that is holding business back from spending?

TOM DONOHUE: I think if I’m running a big company, I’m waiting to see what happens on taxes, I’m waiting to see what happens on spending, and I’m waiting to see what happens on the regulatory circumstances. Do I decide two fundamental things: Am I gonna hire more people, am I gonna expand, and where am I gonna do it.

It’s the same old waiting game. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The cash is piling up, opportunities are sitting there, but corporations fear regulations, fear having to play by a set of rules that they don’t get to write all by themselves (although they are getting to help write them). Such BS. What a bunch of patriots these bidness people are.

Left out of MSNBC’s graphic on corporate profits, and unfortunately left out of Chuck Todd’s questioning, was this sobering reality, as reported by CNN:

But the record profits come at the same time that workers’ wages have fallen to their lowest-ever share of GDP.

Here is a chart to help us see both corporate profits and workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy over time:

image

You see that red line? That’s the Donohue line. That’s corporate profits (CP/GDP). See that declining blue line? That’s workers’ wages (WASCUR/GDP), which are going down, down, down, as corporate profits go up, up, up, and their CEOs whine, whine, whine, and wait, wait, wait, and sit, sit, sit, on unimaginably tall piles of cash.

And Tom Donohue, an overpaid corporate callboy, has the nerve to go on television and declare that entitlement spending is going to ruin the country and that,

the real cliff that’s really scaring us now is the regulatory cliff.

If that doesn’t make you chunder chunks in chagrin, nothing will.

The “Free Riders” Now Have A Political Party To Defend Them

All weekend long, I heard Republicans and right-wing pundits essentially suggest what Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed last Thursday:

From Limbaugh’s monologue:

What has been upheld here is fraud, and the Internal Revenue Service has just become Barack Obama’s domestic army.  That is what we face now.  We were deceived.  Obamacare was a lie.  It was a stealth tax on all Americans, and nobody knew it until today.  Not officially.  Obama told George Stephanopoulos it wasn’t a tax.  And Stephanopoulos was trouble-making for trying to suggest otherwise.

Get it? The Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act’s mandate “was a stealth tax on all Americans.” On all Americans. That’s the way Republicans are spinning the ruling, as they once again smear Democrats as incorrigible taxers, particularly taxers of the middle class.

And many journalists let them get away with it, including George Stephanopolous, who has been on the receiving end of a lot of right-wing attacks for being in the tank for Democrats. Watching him do his journalism is sometimes painful. It’s as if he is trying to avoid any criticism at all from conservatives.

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Stephanopolous grilled White House chief of staff Jack Lew over what to call failure to comply with the ACA’s health care mandate. Lew wanted to call it a penalty, which it is, and Stephanopolous insisted that Lew acknowledge it was in fact a tax. Stephanopolous was so proud of his aggressiveness against a White House staffer that he posted this blog:

Good for Stephanopolous that he tried to pin down a spokesman for President Obama on something the journalist thought important: whether failure to comply with the ACA’s mandate engenders a tax or a penalty. But by doing so, Stephanopolous was aiding the obvious Republican effort to falsely attack Democrats for raising taxes on the working and middle class, an effort given new and possibly everlasting life by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday.

But why didn’t Stephanopolous’ aggressiveness work both ways on this issue? GOP budget guru Paul Ryan appeared on the same program and our fearless journalist was, uh, suddenly not that interested in whether the mandate is a penalty or a tax. Here is the part of their exchange in which Ryan brings up the mandate:

RYAN: No. Look — look at the hypocrisy. The president on your show said this is not a tax. Then he sent his solicitor general to the Supreme Court to argue that it is a tax in order to get this past the Supreme Court.

The broken promises and the hypocrisy are becoming breathtaking from the president who says one thing to get this past Congress and then another thing to get it past the Supreme Court. Look, I was here fighting this bill, George, in the last session of Congress. Believe me, if this was brought to the public as a tax, there’s no way this law would have passed into law in the first place. That’s what’s so frustrating and disappointing with this law.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you may be right about that…

That, my friends, is what happens to journalists who are afraid they will get charged with friendliness toward the president or Democrats in general. Why didn’t Stephanopolous attempt to pin Ryan down on what he would call failure to comply with the mandate? Is it a tax or is it a penalty, Mr. Ryan?

Since Ryan said he agreed “with the dissenting judges” in the case—who were emphatic about calling it a penalty—why didn’t he get asked if he in fact thought it was a penalty? Or whether he agreed with Mitch McConnell when he said,

Well, the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception.

Is it really a tax, Mr. Ryan? Why didn’t Stephanopolous make him contradict McConnell by acknowledging he doesn’t believe it is a tax?

Or why didn’t Stephanopolous ask Ryan—who may be Romney’s VP—what the same mandate was called in Massachusetts, when Mittens was selling it to the folks there? While governor, Romney did not call the mandate—designed to get something out of those he called “free riders“—a tax, as Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom admitted to Chuck Todd on MSNBC this morning, as Todd pressed him on the point:

TODD: What did you call it in Massachusetts? Were you guys calling it a tax or penalty?

FEHRNSTROM: A penalty.

Fehnrnstrom said a bit later:

The governor has consistently described the mandate in Masschusetts as a penalty.

Then Todd pressed on:

TODD: What you just said is that Governor Romney agrees it is not a tax. You guys called it a penalty.

FEHRNSTROM: The governor disagreed with the ruling of the court. He agreed with the dissent that was written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate was not a tax.

TODD: So, I think we’re talking around each other. The governor does not believe the mandate is a tax? That’s what you’re saying?

FEHRNSTROM: The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the Court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.

TODD: So, he agrees with the President that you shouldn’t call the tax penalty a tax, you should call it a penalty or fee or fine?

FEHRNSTROM: That’s correct…

Republicans, of course, want to have it both ways. They want to embrace Justice Scalia and the dissenters in the ACA case—who claim that John Roberts simply rewrote the statute, “imposing a tax through judicial legislation” that “inverts the constitutional scheme”—while they campaign against Obama and Democrats as imposing a new “tax” on the American people.

The truth is that whatever one wants to call the mandate—how about a Scab Tax?—Romney and Republicans know that one-percent or less of the American people will ever pay it. And those folks, “free riders” as Romney has so famously called them, who want to have something for nothing, now have a champion in Rush, Romney, and the Republican Party.

A National Popular Vote?

Chuck Todd did a 10-minute segment this morning on an important issue: The Electoral College and the popular vote.

Todd’s guest was Dr. John Koza, originator of a proposal to move to a national popular vote in presidential elections (nine states with a total of 132 electoral votes have signed on so far).  Koza deftly defended his proposal, as Todd asked him all the relevant questions.

Interestingly (I did not know this) here in Missouri, Joplin’s own Sen. Ron Richard introduced a bill last month that would, if passed, ratify Koza’s proposed legislation, which essentially is a compact among the states to agree to certify electors (thus the Electoral College remains intact) who would vote only for the winner of the national popular vote.

A bipartisan National Popular Vote bill was also introduced in the Missouri House in February, as reported by the St. Louis Beacon:

In a rare bipartisan move, the Missouri House’s top Republican and Democrat have signed on as cosponsors to a bill — part of a national movement — that seeks to commit the state to awarding all of its presidential electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

House Speaker Steve Tilley, (far right) R-Perryville, and Democratic Minority Leader Mike Talboy, (near right) D- Kansas City, are among the co-sponsors of the bill, filed this week. The chief sponsor is Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Eureka.

Called the “National Popular Vote bill,” national supporters say it “would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.”

During the segment on MSNBC, John Koza pointed out that under our present system, 200 million voters are essentially disenfranchised. Yikes.

In the Missouri House the bill has been referred to the Elections Committee and no hearings have been scheduled. In the Senate, the bill has been has been handed to the Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee and no hearings appear to be scheduled.

I urge everyone to watch the informative segment below and if so inclined, contact Senator Richard at (573) 751-2173 or email him. If you live outside the Joplin area but still in Missouri you can contact your own state senator (or representative) by going here.

In the House,

Joplin representative Bill White’s phone is (573)-751-3791 or 417-623-0038 and his email address is Bill.White@house.mo.gov or wew@cableone.net

Bill Lant’s phone is 573-751-9801 or 417-623-5286. His email address is Bill.Lant@house.mo.gov or lantsfeed@netins.net

Webb City/Duquesne rep Charlie Davis can be reached at 573-751-7082 or 417-825-1193.  You can email him at Charlie.Davis@house.mo.gov or charliedavis@cableone.net


“Bipartisan” Opposition to Cut, Cap, and Kill Doesn’t Faze Boehner

Possibly just to demonstrate how unserious he is, John Boehner issued this tweet today:

Bipartisan plan? I heard Kevin McCarthy, House GOP Majority Whip, say essentially the same thing this morning to NBC’s Chuck Todd, and I’ve heard many Republicans refer to the legislation as “bipartisan.”  Since I’ve already written negatively about the the budget-slashing, New Deal-killing bill known here as Cut, Cap and Kill, let’s look at the claim that the bill that passed the House was bipartisan.

H.R. 2560, The Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011, passed the House on July 19 by a vote of 234 to 190, with a not-so-staggering 5 Democrats voting with the Ayes.  And I must point out that one of those Democrats—David Boren of neighboring Oklahoma—is no more a Democrat than Ozark Billy Long, with whom he shares a similar voting record in the House. But I’ll be generous and throw in Boren as a Democrat, which means that 98% of the Ayes were official Republicans.

Now, there are 193 Democrats in the House and the five who voted with the GOP represents 2.5% of the caucus.  That means that 97.5% of Democrats voted against the constitutional monstrosity.

But I want to make a larger point about this bipartisan nonsense.  Using the standards of John Boehner and the House Republicans, the opposition to the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill was decidedly more bipartisan than the support for it.  There were nine—count ‘em—nine Republicans (3.7% of their caucus) who voted against the bill.

So, we can say that the bipartisan opposition to Cut, Cap, and Kill was nearly twice as strong as the so-called bipartisan support for it.

Tweet that, Mr. Boehner.

Obama’s Presser: Here’s What He Said, Sort Of

In case you missed it, here’s what President Obama said today to various folks (more or less, in my stunningly accurate interpretation) during his press conference, the theme of which was, “Congress, get off your ass and go to work, the middle class is hurting“:

To those worried about jobs: There are plenty of job-creating bills in the congressional hopper right now that I would sign, if only Congress would act.  But speaking of acting, what the hell have you guys been doing?  While I’ve been dealing with Libya and handing over bin Laden to the bottom feeders, the Congress is here one week and gone the next.  Sheesh.  Good work, if you can get it.

To those who don’t want to raise revenues to help alleviate the deficit: Are you nuts? I’ve spent the last two years cutting taxes for ordinary folks, but the millionaires and billionaires and the oil companies and those who flitter about on corporate jets need to cough it up.  Come on, people.

To those who wonder whether Republican leadership will stop the nonsense and make a deal on the debt ceiling: My hope—and I confess at this point it is only a hope—is that despite all the teaparty talk, that eventually “leaders will lead” and do the right thing.  This debt ceiling business is not an abstraction.  It could kill the economy. The August 2 date is real and we won’t have any more “tools” to put off paying our bills.  Get busy.

To those who wonder what Obama’s stand on gay marriage is: Look, obviously I’m changing my mind about that issue but I’m not dumb enough to tell you that today because that’s all that would make news.  I came here to point out that Republicans have to get their act together on the debt ceiling negotiations and stop playing games.

To those worried about the National Labor Relations Board’s decision on Boeing:  Union folks, close your ears for a minute while I toss you under the bus:  The main thing is that as long as Boeing is keeping jobs here in America, nothing else much matters.  Okay, union folks, you can listen in again.

To those worried about over-regulating businesses: Don’t worry.  Businesses always complain about that stuff and we are working on eliminating a lot of previous regulations that we think are unnecessarily hindering business.  Give us a chance to get that done and you will be very, very happy.

To those making a fuss about his Libya policy: Are you kidding me?  Do you want to side with the American-killer, Kaddafi?  There’s no constitutional issue involved because I’m doing exactly what I said I’d do and this is nothing like Vietnam.  Do I look like Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon?

To those who note that Obama didn’t use the word “victory” in his talk about Afghanistan:  Victory?  No way would I use that word, but I will use the word “success.”  And by success I mean giving the Afghanis a chance to defend themselves, whether they ultimately can or not.  I don’t mean turning their country into some kind of Jeffersonian paradise.

To those worried about how we will prosecute future terrorist suspects who are apprehended:  We will deal with those individuals on an individual basis, but the American people should rest assured that our top priority is killing the bastards who want to kill us.

To those concerned about our immigration policy: Nothing has changed.  We need comprehensive reform and we need to pass the DREAM Act. I’m shipping back more undocumented folks than any president in recent memory, so what more do you want from me?  Congress must act. 

To those worried about whether Sasha and Malia are getting their homework done: Look, my kids are more responsible than Republicans in Congress. They don’t wait ’till the last minute, when they know they gotta do something.

To those wondering whether the idea of cutting payroll taxes to stimulate the economy must be part of the debt ceiling agreement: Before I answer this one, I would like for all the Republicans to plug their ears: Hell no, it doesn’t.  I’m willing to wait on the stimulus as long as we get a deal on the debt ceiling. And I’m willing to say so right now, which means, of course, that I have lost my edge in negotiations.  Why the hell did I do that?

To those who want to know if Obama believes he can use the Fourteenth Amendment to get around the debt ceiling limitation statute:  I’m sort of not going to remember that Chuck Todd of NBC News ask me about that one.  Maybe I’ll just surprise you later.

Finally, to the middle class:  I think about you ever minute of every day because I know how desperate some of you are.  I came into this office pledging to fix the problems that plague you and most of the time the Republican leaders in Congress only want to play political games and look only to the near-term.  I’m a long-term sort of guy, and I am willing to make deals that aren’t that popular with the base of my party because I believe that in the long run fixing this economy and getting the deficit under control will serve you the best.

Roy Blunt Links Carnahan To Obama In New Ad

Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent and political director, pointed out this morning that the following ad, newly released by the Roy Blunt campaign, is a “significant development in the national electoral landscape.”  Here’s why, he says:

It’s the most direct anti-Obama message we’ve seen made by a Republican running in a general election in a swing state. Now, that said, Blunt is trying to appeal to primary voters a tad right now. But if this ad against Carnahan, using Obama, does raise the Democrat’s negatives, don’t be surprised if it gets copied by GOP candidates across the country. This is an interesting test to keep an eye on.

The ad is very good, in terms of its potential effectiveness, and it shows that Carnahan will need to get better organized and employ some gifted media folks to combat the attacks coming her way.

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