Sunday, September 26, 2010

So The Tea Party Wants to "Take Back America:" Dissecting the Sound Bites

Around the country, "Take Back America" is the rallying cry for thousands who align themselves with the Tea Party movement. Problem is they want to take the country away from the millions more in this country who already voted against their politics, policies and ideas.

Remember Joe, the Plumber? In the weeks before the election, then-candidate Obama debated Republican John McCain over ending Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 3 percent of Americans, i.e. people who make more than 250,000 a year.

We debated, debated and debated again. Obama advocated for going back to the tax rates of the Clinton administration. McCain, in contrast, advocated continuing the Bush tax breaks, which were set to expire this year. Other issues debated include health care reform and Wall Street oversight, particularly regulating the lending policies that created the financial meltdown.

In November 2008, people made their choice and spoke out by an overwhelming majority, by voting for President Obama.

Why then, in 2010 do Republicans now say the President is going against the will of the people? Or that a majority of Americans are against these policies? Why are issues the country overwhelmingly supports and already voted for still being debated and labeled controversial?

Reporting on the 2008 presidential campaign, NBC reported: | (

It's no secret to native Virginians that the parts of the state inside the Washington DC beltway aren't representative of the entire Old Dominion. That's probably the point that McCain advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer was trying to make when she told NBC's Kevin Corke today that the northern and mostly suburban part of the state doesn't represent "real Virginia."

Was it? Or was it an early glimmer of what would rise as the constant Republican strategy of positioning any Obama supporter, in fact any liberal voter as somehow "unAmerican" or even worse, "anti-American."

Unfortunately when Republicans say a majority of voters, they only mean a majority of Republican voters. The same innuendo holds for the word "patriot." Only Republicans are "true patriots."

The President aptly noted this effort to divide the country into good voters and bad voters during his 2004 Democratic National Committee speech focusing on separating the country into red and blue states.

Unfortunately there's more to Republican double-speak than meets the eye. This is even more true when one analyzes the rhetoric of the Tea Party.

Republicans claim they are "fiscal conservatives." The Tea Party ratchets this claim up a notch, by claiming not only to stand for fiscal responsibility, but also for constitutionally limited government and a free market.

Sounds good, doesn't it? But understanding the nuance behind the sound bite is the part many supporters and even TV pundits overlook.

Let's face it; everyone wants to keep government off our backs. But what does it really mean when Tea Party Republicans say it?

For the most part, smaller government means less government regulation. Historically speaking, under Republican administrations going back to Ronald Reagan, that means a rollback of government oversight of food safety, schools, energy and big business. Even the way we communicate with each other got a major overhaul.

What it means to you is government continuing to roll back regulatory provisions that keep big companies like say BP Oil, in check. That means expanding the types of policy that bought us the recent Gulf Oil disaster and massive food recalls - policies that make us less safe and secure in the end.

Stay tuned for more on how their term rolling back government and free market includes privatizing such popular programs as Medicare , Social Security and health care provided to Veterans through the Veterans Administration. I will spend a full column to illustrate how pervasive this philosophy is among the far right.

But now, back to the Tea Party. Try as they might, the Tea Party also wants you to think it's not partisan. Asked to define the movement on Sunday’s CBS Face the Nation, Tea Party candidate Marco Rubio states: “Washington is broken. Both parties are to blame.”

Ok. If that’s true why are Tea Party candidates only challenging moderate Republicans in the mid-term?

And what about fiscal responsibility?

Ken Buck, who calls himself the “grassroots choice for Colorado” further highlights the faulty thinking of Tea Party candidates. Also on Face the Nation this week, Buck claims to favor such "common-sense" solutions to our budget crisis as "Keeping [government] spending under control."

Buck states: “I think we need to look at some sort of constitutional balanced budget amendment -- or spending limit -- and some formula that keeps spending under control. We are clearly heading off a cliff. The Tea Party movement, the grassroots movement in Colorado, recognizes that Republicans are every bit as much to blame for where we are right now as Democrats. But we have to find some discipline from outside of Washington DC, and impose it on our Congress and executive branch.”

Sounds good right? Yet, when pressed, Buck announces he supports efforts to leave the Bush-era tax cuts in place, which are responsible for the bulk of the country's current budget imbalance. Buck says he favors tax cuts for all, even the most wealthy companies and individuals, i.e. the richest two percent of Americans.

He tells host Bob Schieffer: I don’t see it as tax cuts. They talk about extending the Bush tax cuts. We have a tax rate right now. Increasing that tax rate to me is a tax increase. Also, I think you have to look at where do families cut, if we don’t maintain our tax rates where they are right now? What do families have to give up in order to pay for government spending -- the overspending that’s going on -- in the federal government? I come down on the side of low taxes because I think it’s going to generate jobs in this economy.

Where do families cut? Brings to mind images of the average family, maybe even your family, who is struggling in this economy.

But remember we are really talking about people that make more than 250,000 a year, which is less than two percent of the entire population. Similarly deceptive in Republican-speak is "small business." On the right, small business is defined to encompass huge, privately-owned multi-billion dollar companies like Price Waterhouse and the Chicago Tribune. The Republican definition of the word even includes wealthy individuals who incorporate as a tax shelter, like some actors and athletics, and people like J. Howard Marshall, the wealthy hubby of Ana Nicole Smith.

Buck fails to acknowledge those temporary tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed by Bush in 2001 cut more dollars from the federal budget than the health care and stimulus packages combined. They were passed by the legislature as an effort by Bush to jump start the economy and create jobs.

Instead we lost jobs and we all know the economy tanked.

Real common sense recognizes if you have a balanced budget, then willingly cut more than half the income that supports it, you wind up with a debt crisis. That’s not called living beyond your means. That’s called deliberate sabotage. Is it no wonder our economy is in the toilet?

Earlier in the day, CBS Sunday morning ran an excellent overview on why the Bush tax cuts don't trickle down to help the middle class and in fact hurts job growth in this country. It’s a gamble that didn’t work, and one that has failed historically time and again.

Last Friday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the discussion one step further by analyzing how tax cuts for the wealthy during the Reagan and Bush administration equally failed to stimulate anything more than expansion of the bottom lines of the rich and the expense of the rest of the country. Later on the same network, Rachel Maddow blasted the Democrats for their inability to campaign out of fear of a right-winged attack.

Anyone who studies the effects of bullying might be able to identify.

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Additional References. USA TODAY |

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Huckabee slams coverage of pre-existing conditions

Mike Huckabee is wrong. Insuring people who have a pre-existing condition is not like buying insurance after your house has burned down. A more accurate analogy is not covering a pre-existing condition is like having your house burn down and your insurance company refuse coverage because you own matches.

"You have matches? Oh, we're sorry your house burned down but that's a pre-exisiting condition. That means the insurance you've been paying for all these years is null and void because your previously kept matches in the home."