Saturday, July 23, 2011

POLITICS: The Tea Bagger Emperors Have No Clothes—The GOP Reveals Its Hand, Abandons Its “Pledge to America,” and Proves It Really Doesn’t Care Much For You

Hey Tea Baggers!
How’s that whole “Pledge to America” thing working out for ya?

Remember last fall? When the Republicans told you that jobs were THE BIGGEST PRIORITY for America? And they were going to incentivize job growth with more tax cuts? And repeal Obamacare? And cut government spending? And end TARP? And strengthen border patrol? And allow you to buy health insurance across state lines? Remember the GOP had 20 of these “Pledges” to America?

Do you know how many of these items the GOP has enacted six months into their takeover of the House of Representatives?

One. They passed a 2011 funding bill that cut a meager $350 million dollars of government spending. But they needed the help of a bunch of reasonable Democrats to pass the modest bill.

Guess how many jobs-related bills the GOP has offered in the House since they took power?
(L to R) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
That’s right—ZERO. Not one. Not even talk of a jobs-related bill, let alone actual legislation put on paper. And remember: the GOP told us in 2010 that if we vote for them, job creation would be their number one priority. Of course, the GOP and their Tea Bagging consorts had no real intention of creating jobs to help the economy—but enough easily duped voters believed them to vote them into office.

What legislation HAS the GOP House been busing themselves with for the past six months?

Only the really important stuff that helps the average American working family, of course.

H.R.3, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” passed in May. Good thing, too—the 30-year-old Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion since it passed in 1976, didn’t go far enough apparently. Of course, the Senate has ignored this waste-of-time, redundant piece of legislation, with no hopes of getting anything but a Presidential veto.

Here’s another legislative gem that was more important to the GOP than passing substantive job creation legislation: last week the House re-argued and tried to repeal the 2007 Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, signed by their own Republican President Bush, that phases out the use of incandescent light bulbs staring in 2012 in favor of energy-efficient bulbs (like fluorescent or halogen bulbs). In 2007, it was estimated that the law would save the U.S. some 6 billion dollars in energy costs annually. God forbid Big Government tell us to save money on energy—we’re Americans, damnit. We prefer wasting money and energy. Thankfully, enough sober Republicans voted against their own party’s ill-conceived crusade against energy-efficient light bulbs and defeated this year’s all important illumination bill.

The GOP House DID pass one piece of substantive legislation: a budget—the Paul Ryan budget that “reforms” Medicare by shorting your parents and grandparents of their medical coverage and raises the costs to those seniors by thousands of dollars each year. Those same seniors who have been making down payments on those very Medicare benefits every week they’ve worked since the mid-1960s—before Representative Paul Ryan was even born and long before he’d first sipped the hallucinatory tonic of Ayn Rand that he and other neo-Conservatives seem so addicted to.

The Democratic Senate easily voted down the Ryan budget—with the help of four sane Republicans and Tea Bagger Rand Paul.

So six months after the GOP stormed into control of the House of Representatives, they have barely accomplished one of their “Pledge to America” promises.

Call former Speaker Nancy Pelosi whatever you want, but she passed a hell of a lot more legislation in her first three months as Speaker than John Boehner and his pack of Tea Bagging jackasses have in twice the time.

But what Weeper of the House Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have revealed is where the GOP’s true priorities lie, and no matter your political stripe, be it right, left, or somewhere in less-informed “independent voter” in-between, their priorities have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Seriously. Unless you’re a multi-millionaire or a major corporation—and if you’re reading this blog, odds are pretty high that you’re neither—the Tea Bagging GOP has little regard for you or your family. As their name suggest, the Tea Bagging GOP are too busy straining their mouths open so wide for the financial testes of guys like the Koch Brothers, Exxon, BP, big pharma, and any swinging pair on Wall Street to pay you and your family’s modest needs any attention.

Look at the actions of each political party and you’ll see who they are representing, and it is clear as day that the GOP is not representing the people who voted them into office. Somehow, over the past couple of decades, the Republican Party has repeatedly been able to get perfectly reasonable adults to vote against their own best interests. It’s a horrible talent that deserves a modicum of admiration. For example:

• 2010 Affordable Health Care Act: By all independent analysis, the albeit imperfect Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 will help allow millions more Americans to afford some kind of health insurance and at that same time save the entire federal health care system billions of dollars. But the Tea Bagging GOP have tried to pass legislation to repeal the law or gut key provisions of the law—some that are already enacted and are helping American families (i.e. not being dropped for preexisting conditions, coverage for post-college children). Why does the GOP want to get rid of this law before it is fully enacted? Because the GOP represents large corporate insurance interests, big pharma, and corporate hospitals, and even though the 2010 Health Care Act ensures millions of new customers for corporate insurance companies, the GOP doesn’t like the fact that the regulations and price limitations imposed as part of the deal might curtail corporate insurance and corporate hospitals’ ability to raise premiums and overcharge for services. So how does that represent or help you and your family? It doesn’t. Not one iota.

• Negotiating Medicare Drug Prices: As part of the GOP Medicare Part D plan passed in 2003 and signed by President Bush, seniors were given a program to help offset the rising costs of prescription drugs, which is generally considered by most people to be a very good thing for seniors and shows that, see, the GOP does represent the average American citizen and not strictly the elite and corporate pharmaceutical interests. But the devil’s in the details, of course. When the GOP passed this bill, they included no way to pay for it—unlike the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, which included the revenue to actually pay for the programs. By 2008, the GOP Medicare Part D plan was already adding $50 billion a year to the national debt. But the real poison pill, if you will, is that the GOP demanded—and passed—a stipulation that the federal government, meaning you and me, was not allowed to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices for Medicare Part D prescriptions. Which means that, although seniors get a much needed break on prescriptions, the pharmaceutical companies can charge the government, meaning you and me, the highest prices and make the most profit. The Democrats tried in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 to eliminate this provision and allow the federal government, meaning you and me, to negotiate for cheaper prescriptions for Medicare, but the GOP House and Senate voted against it. The federal government negotiates drug prices with big pharma for the completely Socialistic Veterans Affairs medical coverage, so why not for Medicare, which is a much larger program than the VA? You know why—cause the GOP, even when they kinda representing some Americans, are mostly interested in representing corporate interests. Not you.

PS. The GOP House Representative that steered the bill through Congress, Billy Tauzin, retired from the House in 2005 and took a multi-million dollar job as the president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. He maintained that post just long enough to make sure that negotiating prescription prices for Medicare or the Affordable Health Care Act never became law. Think Billy represented you at any point?

• Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Remember how the economy tanked in 2008 and plunge the country into a financial crisis that cost all of us billions of dollars to bailout the very financial institutions that created the crisis? Of course you do—we’re all still reeling from its effects. While very little was done to prevent the same crisis from happening again—thanks primarily to the GOP’s opposition to any regulation, but with a healthy assist from the timid White House—there was one potentially strong piece of legislation passed by the Democratic House and Senate that could actually help people like you and me. The CFPB is designed to be an independent federal watchdog that makes sure financial institutes inform consumers in clear language about the risks involved in financial products, as well as blowing the whistle on deceptive and abusive practices in the financial sector. The CFPB is to serve as a representative for us, the consumers, with little influence from Congress. The pit-bull Elizabeth Warren came up with the idea and has been in charge of getting the Bureau set up. Of course, since the Tea Bagging GOP took control of the House in January of 2011, they have attempted numerous legislative maneuvers to make sure the CFPB has little to no actual power against the financial institutions. Remember, the sole purpose of the CFPB is to be independent and to protect the consumer—you, me, and everyone we know. But that kind of crazy thinking doesn’t sit well with the GOP Tea Baggers because, obviously, they don’t really care much about protecting us.

Just this week, as the CFPB officially opened its doors, the Tea Bagging GOP House voted to change the Bureau to be lead by a five-person panel instead of one primary consumer advocate and to make the bureau less independent—meaning less able to represent you and me—by making every recommendation from the CFPB easily overruled by Federal regulators. The very same federal regulators, often hand-picked by geniuses from Goldman Sachs, Chase Bank, Bank of America, etc., who buried their heads in the sand and ignored the very illegal financial products that busted the economy in 2008. The Democratic controlled Senate won’t pass this idiotic legislation, and the President has already said he would veto any bill that undermined the CFPB’s authority to protect consumers—remember, that’s you and me. The GOP threatened to filibuster the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the CFPB, so of course Obama caved, but his selection to run the new agency—Richard Cordray of Ohio, who took on Bank of America and other lenders for the “robo-signing” foreclosure scams when he was Attorney General of Ohio—seems a worthy leader for the CFPB. But guess what? The GOP has already declared its opposition to Cordray. Surprised? No. Because once again, today’s Tea Bagging GOP does not represent you or me—but they do worry quite a bit about the well-being of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and other such institutions that contribute mightily to the GOP money sack.

Those are only three specific examples of legislation either passed or supported by the Democratic party that the GOP Tea Baggers oppose. All three would substantively effect and benefit you and me and our elders and our children. But the vast majority of Republicans oppose all three. If you consider yourself a conservative—or even a Tea Bagger—you have to ask yourself why? The GOP may TELL you they oppose these things because it’s too much government control or it’s “socialism!” or that we need to keep government out of our everyday lives, but if you believe that, then you’re frankly not very bright. Or you’re simply an ideologue that can’t distinguish facts from self-defeating rhetoric. Because the GOP and the Tea Baggers really don’t care that much about you or your family—they care solely about representing the elite financial powers in our country that in turn support the GOP with healthy election contributions. Everyone of these pieces of legislation was designed to protect you and make your life and financial situation more secure, so how can you possibly support a party that wants you to may more for your prescriptions, allow the medical insurance and corporate hospitals you deal with on a regular basis to overcharge you for their services and cut your policy benefits, and protect and defend the financial services industry that just screwed you and so many people you know from 2008 until this very day?

Think of it this way: if someone came to your door and said “We need to have all your food and your entertainment center and your car and all the money you have in your bank account because these really awesome folks up on the hill in the gated mansion are having an amazing party and we don’t want it to stop or slow down because they might not create a new job or invest in an American enterprise if the party dies,” you’d tell that jackass to get the hell off your property. But that’s what the Tea Bagging GOP is asking you to do. But some of you, who OBVIOUSLY weren’t invited to that awesome party and never will be, don’t seem able to understand this simple fact. By turning over all your shit so that awesome party on the hill can continue uninterrupted, do you think that maybe one day, if they let you, you could maybe work as a waiter at that party and—oh please-please-please—serve those millionaires drinks as a proud, freedom-loving American Tea Bagging thousandaire?

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