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Republican scams

Cantor’s small-business tax cut measure
just election-year theater of the absurd

capitol domeW ith a bill as inappropriate as a whoopee cushion in a funeral home waiting room, House Republicans sought this week to set up President Obama and congressional Democrats as being anti-small business.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., authored this election year stunt of a bill, which predictably passed yesterday, 235-73, thanks to the Pavlovian response of House Republicans when their masters speak.

Cantor’s bill would balloon the deficit $46 billion to give “small” businesses – 500 or fewer employees – a one-year 20 percent tax cut. However, in typical Republican fashion, Cantor tailored his measure so that much of the benefits would flow to very wealthy business people, not the couple running a dry cleaning shop, the guy with a two-chair barber shop or the woman who grooms pets for a living.

Cantor claims his handiwork will free up capital so businesses can expand and thus do more hiring.

No one with a clue about business and economics will be fooled by that nonsense. Businesses don’t hire for the sheer joy of handing out more paychecks. They bring in more people because they’re doing more business than the employees they have can handle efficiently. Nor does giving businesses a big tax break cause them to buy more materials and services from suppliers. They buy more when they need more to keep up with demand.

The inescapable fact is that Increased demand, not money in hand, is what spurs employers to hire more people. Those who say otherwise are ignorant of the facts or pursuing political ends in spite of the facts.

Which brings us back to Cantor. This bill of his is the latest in a long list of time-wasting nonsense legislation House Republicans have passed this year knowing full well the bills would die in the Senate or be vetoed by the president. The idea this time is to create something campaigning Republicans can hold up to mom-and-pop business owners, telling them that they could’ve had so much more money to work with if anti-business Democrats hadn’t stood in the way.

You can get an idea of what a load of garbage that is from what some number crunchers have to say about Cantor’s measure (emphasis ours).


The bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said the tax cut’s impact on the economy would be “so small as to be incalculable.” Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, commissioned Gary Robbins, who created Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, to analyze the business tax cut, which Mr. Cantor drafted. The conclusion was that in the year it would exist, it would create 39,000 jobs, at a cost in tax revenue of $1.2 million per job.

Much of the debate was on Democratic grounds: Who benefits? The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that 49 percent of the $46 billion in tax breaks would go to households earning more than $1 million.


Earlier in the week, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ attempt to legislate the Buffett Rule, which holds that multimillionaire CEO’s shouldn’t be subject to lower tax rates than their secretaries. The Democrats’ bill would’ve set a 30 percent minimum tax on households with $1 million or more in annual income. If passed, that measure would’ve yielded an additional $47 billion in sorely needed federal revenues.

Democrats are also pushing a bill that would provide businesses that hire additional workers a 10 percent tax credit and allow immediate deduction of new plant and equipment costs. It’s expected to come up for a vote next month.


Ryan: And now for my next trick

paul ryanYou might think Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would keep a low profile and shut mouth after his plan to destroy Medicare, forcing millions of retired Americans to seek medical insurance individually from the health insurance industry, bombed not long ago.

But no, the millionaire chairman of the House Budget Committee on Tuesday unveiled a new assault on nonwealthy Americans with a scheme to force 170 million to leave employer-sponsored health insurance plans to seek individual policies from the health insurance industry

Ryan argued it would give consumers the needed incentive to demand better value out of their healthcare.

“Giving patients and consumers control over health care resources would make all Americans less dependent on big business and big government for our health security; give us more control over the care we get; and force health care providers to compete for our business,” Ryan said.

This is pure, unadulterated bunk.

First, consumers typically have no control over “health care resources.” When an accident victim with a fractured hip is being rushed to the hospital, he’s in no position to go comparison shopping for the cheapest emergency room in the vicinity. When the doctor tells him he needs surgery to fix his hip, he can’t go through the Yellow Pages listing of orthopedic surgeons, calling around to get the lowest price on a pin job.

Ryan is a radical-conservative ideologue who cares a lot about wealth and power. He’s all about pushing money and advantage to big corporations and wealthy individuals that fund Republican political campaigns. As for doing anything helpful for middle-class and working-class Americans, forget it .

The whole rationale behind insurance is that at any given time, a relatively small percentage of policyholders require payouts. Most of the time, most policyholders pay premiums without collecting anything. The larger the pool of policyholders, the less each need be charged for the insurance company to be able to cover claims and operating costs, and still make a profit.

Buying insurance, businesses with anywhere from a few to tens of thousands of employees have leverage based on their numbers so they can bargain down the cost. Individuals have no leverage at all.

Ryan knows all this but would rather see each consumer be a pool of one — the absolute most expensive way there is to buy insurance.

That’s because Ryan cares more about insurance company profits and campaign donations than he does about 170 million working people.

What a piece of work.

Some things never change

“The reactionaries hold that government policies should be designed for the special benefit of small groups of people who occupy positions of wealth and influence. Their theory seems to be that if these groups are prosperous, they will pass along some of their prosperity to the rest of us. This can be described as the “trickle-down theory.”

—President Harry S. Truman, Nov. 3, 1949,
quoted in Give ‘Em Hell, Harry,
Award Books, 1975.

Stuck on wrong: So it was 62 years ago. So it is now, and apparently, so shall it forever be.

Some people never learn, never change — and amazingly, never cease being able to get away with being wrong.

Republicans create budget crises, then exploit them

“The common thread is that in Washington and in Wisconsin you have Republicans who are basically making a budget situation worse by insisting on tax breaks for corporations and the rich, and using the excuse of a fiscal crisis to accomplish longtime and radical conservative goals.”

—Justin Ruben, executive director, Moveon.org,
in a story at The Hill, Feb. 24, 2011

Keep your eye on the eightballs: And to think, Republicans have spent the past two years snidely quoting Rahm Emmanuel’s line about never letting a crisis go to waste.

Further proof, as if any were needed, that if you’re smart you’ll give little credence to what Republicans say, instead being careful to watch like a hawk what they do.

Idiocy has political persistence going for it

“The budget that President Bush will submit to Congress today shows the federal deficit falling in each of the next four years and would produce Quote logoa $61 billion surplus in 2012, administration officials said. But to get there, Bush is counting on strong economic growth, diminishing costs in the Iraq war and tight domestic spending to offset the cost of his tax cuts.

“Democrats yesterday criticized the five-year budget plan as overly optimistic, and predicted that extending the tax cuts past their 2010 expiration date would dig the nation deeper into debt rather than produce a budget surplus. Republicans countered that the tax cuts are critical to maintaining a healthy economy and that a balanced budget is not possible without them.

“. . .’We think it’s absolutely critical that they be extended in 2010, when they otherwise would expire. Why? Because they have contributed to this growing economy,’ White House budget director Rob Portman said yesterday on CNN’s ‘Late Edition.'”

“‘We think it would be a mistake and a risk to our strong economy to have these tax cuts not continue,’ Portman added.

“Recent estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office suggest that it would be difficult to balance the budget if the tax cuts — a collection of rate reductions and tax credits that have reduced Treasury collections by an estimated $1 trillion since 2001 — continue.”

Washington Post story,
“Bush Budget Projects a Surplus by 2012;
Democrats Say Plan Would Grow Debt,”
Feb. 5, 2007

Poor Johnny one-note
sang out with gusto
And just overlorded the place
Poor Johnny one-note
yelled willy nilly
Until he was blue in the face
For holding one note was his ace

Couldn’t hear the brass
Couldn’t hear the drum
He was in a class
By himself, by gum!

Something to seethe about while we're briefly away

We’re taking a detour off the information superhighway for a couple of days, so please don’t mistake our lack of visits to your blog for a lack of interest.

In the meantime, be sure to see a mind-boggling chart that neatly and graphically contrasts President Obama’s plan for what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts, and what Republicans want to do. You’ll get to see who benefits and, on the GOP plan, who hits the jackpot.

What’s that old saying? Oh yes, “Never give the suckers an even break.” Republicans should be made to wear a warning sign, styled like the one on cigarette packs, that includes that sentiment.

Boehner, Pence great spokesmenfor party of no sensible answers

No GOPSo, Meet the Press host David Gregory puts it to Republican Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Mike Pence of Indiana straight up: You want to keep the Bush tax cuts, how are you going to pay for them?

They sang. They danced. They probably wet their pants. But they didn’t give a sensible, coherent answer. Example:

Gregory: You’re not being responsive to a specific point which is how can you be for cutting the deficit and also cutting taxes as well when they’re not paid for?

Boehner: Listen, you can’t raise taxes in the middle of a weak economy. […]

Gregory: But tax cuts are not paid for is that correct?

Boehner: I am not for raising taxes on the American people in a soft economy.

Gregory: That’s not the question. Are tax cuts paid for or not?

Boehner: Listen, what you’re trying to do is get into this Washington game and their funny accounting over there. …

Gregory: Do you believe tax cuts pay for themselves or not?

Boehner: I do believe that we’ve got to get more money in the hands of small businesses.

Video here of the whole exchange with Boehner and then Pence.

These supposedly born-again Republican deficit hawks worked overtime helping tax-cut and spend, and borrow-and-spend, America into the fiscal no-win situation currently gripping the economy and hurting all but their millionaire/billionaire backers. Republicans controlled the House of Representatives from 1994-2006, and except for a brief break, ran the Senate too.

Where was Boehner and Pence’s concern for controlling the deficit then? Why did they toss out the pay-go rule in 2002?

Now these hypocritical dunces want to keep the tax cuts in place for everyone, still favoring their fat-cat friends and burdening the rest with the cost down the line.


Stockman administers slap down to McConnell and his GOP drones

Swiss Cheese DollarComes now David Stockman, Office of Management and Budget Director during the Reagan administration, giving the back of his hand to today’s Republican advocates of voodoo economics.

If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.

More fundamentally, Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts – in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance – vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.

Stockman does a good job laying out the broad strokes of how and why the U.S. economy was driven off a cliff. He forthrightly fingers tax-cut-and-spend Republicans as the ones who were behind the wheel putting the pedal to the metal. And, his ominous prediction of what comes next rings all too true, as far as it goes: “We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing.”

But the remedy Stockman calls for — austerity and sacrifice in the form of higher taxes and reduced government spending — while necessary once the crisis has passed, is woefully inadequate and by itself unrealistic. If applied too soon and/or too severely, its most likely effect will be to bring on potentially disastrous deflation. That’s the last thing we need.

The engine of U.S. prosperity is badly broken, despite how super swell it might seem to those in the top 10 percent wealthwise and corporate movers and shakers generally. The engine must be properly repaired, so middle-class and working-class Americans can get and keep decent jobs, sharing equitably in profits, rewards for productivity gains and overall economic growth.

Anything less, such as Stockman’s prescription, would be tantamount to bailing the boat harder and faster but not bothering to plug the hole in its hull.

At the RNC, family value adds up to $13,000

cash pileAdd a dab of nepotism to what ails the Republican National Committee these days, with an outfit run by the daughter of Jan Larimer, RNC co-chairperson, being paid $13,000 for speechwriting.

Greg Sargent, Plumline, reports the explanation:

The RNC declined comment. But an RNC source disputes that there’s anything untoward. The source says the person doing the speechwriting for the RNC is not Amy Larimer, but her partner, Joe Milczewski, who co-runs the firm with her. The source says Milczewski, who works in Wyoming politics, has a long-standing professional relationship with RNC co-chair Larimer.

We’re sure the RNC, headquartered in Washington, D.C., which is wall to wall with PR, lobbying and political consulting firms, only reached out to far-off Wyoming because it just couldn’t find a good speechwriter nearby.

Yeah, right.

While we’re on this, something else in Sargent’s story piqued our interest.

“It certainly doesn’t look good,” Mark DeMoss, chief executive of an Atlanta-based PR company and a major GOP donor, told me. “It contributes to a sense that spending is out of control. It sounds like nepotism – which it is. How many more data points are there going to be?”


GOP health care 'reform' plan anemic, toxic

poisonHow perfectly Republican: a health care “reform” plan that reduces costs by reducing care, keeps hated pre-existing condition gotcha traps firmly in place, and tells people who need medical insurance to go start a savings account.

The Congressional Budget Office looked into the Republicans’ handiwork and found it shifts costs to the elderly and the sick — Republicans’ predictable Robin-Hood-in-reverse play.

And in the end, this GOP joke in bad taste
will add how many Americans to the ranks of the insured?

“The pool of people without health insurance would end up being less healthy, on average, than under current law,” the CBO says.

The GOP plan would add 3 million people to the insurance rolls by 2019, but the overall percentage of uninsured would stay the same.

Wow, a whole 3 million people in 10 years. If the number of Americans losing their medical insurance because they can no longer afford it continues at about the same rate as in recent years, the GOP plan will leave the country with upwards of 60 million uninsured in a decade, by our reckoning.

In a well done editorial that essentially reduces the Republican plan to burnt toast, the New York Times notes:

Part of the premium reduction was attributed to savings in the cost of medical services. But much was attributed to shrinking the services covered. The Democrats plan to set minimum benefit requirements to protect people from skimpy policies that leave them without adequate protection when they need it.

The budget office is planning to estimate how the far more complex Democratic bills would affect premiums. Americans need to know that so they can make a full comparison. But there should be no illusions here. The “affordable” Republican health care reform isn’t health care reform.

The plan isn’t health care reform because the Party of No is not interested in helping people get health care insurance or medical care itself. Republicans aren’t about public service. They have no concept of providing the greatest good for the greatest number.

What Republicans are about is advancing their own political and personal fortunes. They’re truly dedicated to bestowing advantages on the wealthy, well-connected few who fill their campaign coffers. They are also devoted to a discredited, backward ideology whose main contribution has been boom-and-bust cycles, elevation of greed to the status of virtue, and inviting waste, fraud, abuse of power and rampant corruption in and out of government.

Folks, don’t look to the Taliban for enlightenment. Don’t hold your breath until the Chinese open their markets to American-produced goods and services on anything like an even footing.

Most of all, don’t expect Republicans to ever give us suckers an even break. They wouldn’t know how even if they wanted to. Rarely a day goes by without the whole sorry lot of them proving they don’t want to.