Thursday, July 25, 2013

Republican War on America — The Harsh Reality

The GOP Platform — A Logical Question to Ponder

The headlines from this source and a pretty good rundown to boot; check it out. Specifics from the article in full text (links to other sources in the main page): 

1. The House budget. There is no single federal budget bill, but a series of bills for combinations of different agencies. In 2013, House Appropriations Committee has been approving budgets that present some of the most draconian cuts seen in a generation. This week saw the panel pass a budget bill cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 34 percent, including cuts to clean water programs by 60 percent. It gave the White House a quarter of what it sought for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and cut National Park funds by 10 percent and cuts national arts and humanities funding in half. Earlier Committee budgets cut in half funding for Community Development Block Grants, which is what cities use for housing and anti-poverty efforts. A Committee was expected to release its proposals for health, labor and education. A GOP staffer told the New York Times that education grants to poor students will be cut by 16 percent, and the overall Labor Department will be cut by 13 percent. This slash-and-burn spree goes beyond the so-called sequester for the current fiscal year ending on September 30, where every federal agency essentially swallowed a 5 percent across-the-boards cut. As Appropriations Committee Democratic Spokesman Dennis explained, the House GOP is continuing the “sequester” but taking the bulk of the funds from programs that they have long opposed: safety nets, environment, poverty, and a spectrum of agencies regulating business. The Times said Congress has not faced such a big budget battle since 1995, when the House GOP tried to close the departments of Energy, Education and Commerce — and ended up shutting down the federal government for 28 days.

2. Holding Obama-care hostage. The October 1 implementation date for individuals to start enrolling in Obama-care (the first day of Federal Fiscal Year FY-14) has become another line in the sand for surly Republicans. Despite passage in 2010, a Supreme Court decision upholding most of it, a presidential election where the health care reform was an issue and voters re-elected Obama, top Senate Republicans are now saying that they will not pass any budget bill that includes funding to implement the law. The Senate’s top GOP leadership and other senators have signed a letter declaring, “The law cannot be implemented as written.” Whether this is just posturing—as single senators cannot block bills unless they have a majority—remains to be seen. It certainly signals to the House that there will be Senate support to gut funding for the law, which is consistent with the House Republican strategy of eviscerating programs and agencies they oppose. The GOP’s intransigence needs to be seen against the backdrop of last week’s supposedly bipartisan deal to approve a handful of Obama’s top agency heads. It hardly matters if these agencies have Senate-approved leaders if the GOP’s game plan is to defund and destroy these agencies’ effectiveness.

3. Stonewalling federal judge ships. This summer’s budget battles only add to the already toxic atmosphere in Washington. Senate’s Republicans have also abused their power by delaying the appointment of federal judges nominated by the White House. The American Bar Association’s president recently wrote an editorial complaining about the large number of federal judge vacancies, calling it a worsening “emergency.” The public doesn’t fully appreciate how powerful judges are. But senators do, knowing that they serve for life and will decide cases involving business and constitutional issues for a very long time. The Senate’s Republicans keep stonewalling, even though Obama’s appointments tend to be centrists.  They are not reflexively libertarian and pro-corporate like the current U.S. Supreme Court majority — or the activist attorneys behind the new right wing propaganda machine profiled by Mother Jones. This is yet another way in which intransigent Republicans are acting as if Obama did not win re-election.

4. Stopping immigration reform. The GOP, and especially the House majority, knows their power will be diluted if more immigrants become citizens and vote. They also know that many industries rely on low wages for immigrant laborers, including people who pay more in taxes than they receive in government services. But the House GOP will not take up a Senate immigration bill with amnesty and a decade-long path to citizenship. Even Fox News contributor, Republican Juan Williams, derided House GOP leaders as racist. He should not be surprised, because today’s Republicans are bent on retaining their power by any means, instead of persuading voters in open and fair elections.

5. The attack on voting rights. The game plan here is as old as Reconstruction: block your opponents from voting. After the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, Shelby vs. Holder, gutting the Voting Rights Act’s toughest provision that blocked racially discriminatory voting laws from taking effect, GOP-led states — North Carolina this week and Texas previously — have put forth bills to re-segregate voting and elections. What North Carolina Republicans are pushing through their legislature this week is on par with what Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell did before 2004, when his state re-elected President George W. Bush. Rick Hasen, a University of California law professor, wrote, “The bill is a nightmare for voting rights advocates: not only does it include a strict voter ID law and provision shortening early voting and eliminating same-day voter registration for early voting, it is a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote.” The Shelby decision gives the GOP room to plot redistricting scenarios to lock in safe seats in Congress and locally because the Justice Department’s threatened push back is on untested legal grounds. Texas Republicans quickly said they would revise district lines, instead of waiting for the 2020 Census, as well as toughen state voter ID laws. These discriminatory steps in key states, coupled with the House GOP’s anti-immigrant bias, underscore the party’s defiant obsession with preserving its political power.

6. The attack on election regulators. Part of the attack on voting is an attack on election officials who were genuinely non-partisan, like North Carolina State Board of Election’s longtime director, Gary Bartlett. He was ousted earlier this year after two decades on the job after a new Republican governor reconstituted the state BOE. Bartlett had spent years making North Carolina’s election rules arguably the most progressive in the South. But the North Carolina GOP is also trying to end public financing for judicial elections, another successful anti-corruption program.

One wonders why any Republican serves in office if not for the betterment of the country as a whole. The above actions plus the "war on women" and voter suppression, plus the lack of progress is very troubling for me and it should be for everyone. The welfare of the country is at stake and right now it looks like the GOP goes not give a damn about the future - any future - but they are wrong, and the public will react in 2014 and beyond despite the GOP efforts otherwise - bet on it.

Stay tuned, and thanks for stopping by.

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