BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Many of us wonder from time to time about the completely irrational and foolish positions taken by Republicans. Sometimes it seems as if nobody in that party or its leadership is capable of thinking out the most simple matters or probable public reaction to the positions they take openly, even by votes in Congress.
Yes, indeed there are a number within their “celebrity” political group who appear to fit the weak-minded image that their comments and behavior conjures. But we also observe other more respected ones within the Republican Party putting out a line and calling for unanimity of support of idiotic measures. This seems to us incongruous. Surely they must know better, we say.
Various positions taken by Republicans on reducing budget deficits and curtailing the growth of national debt leave us leave us somewhat awe-stricken. “Surely nobody is dumb enough to propose that,” we think.
Does Tim Pawlenty really believe he can cut budget deficits by 40% in 10 years by cutting taxes $7.8 trillion, added to the $2.5 trillion lost by keeping the Bush cuts? He also projects a spectacular 5% growth rate in the economy, and a minus 1% unemployment. What does that mean? It is nonsense.
So it was with the proposal to repeal Medicare as we know it, and substitute a voucher for seniors to go out and shop for a policy from insurance companies. This is not really a sane proposal. Politically, it won’t fly. As an alternative to cutting corporate and other subsidies, it won’t be chosen. Nor will it be acceptable as an alternative to raising taxes for the wealthy among us.
It should be mentioned that seniors are not a market that private insurers want, and rates would likely be exorbitant. Also, nothing works in any budget unless health care costs are brought under control. Medicare, as it now exists, is the only major force stopping medical charges from running amok. Medicare declares what it will pay – and no more can be charged to them or the patient. This is highly significant to the economy of the nation. Would that we would adopt a form of Medicare for everybody, so we could put real brakes on costs.
So then, why would Republicans take on such a loser of an issue?
The answer is: Every Republican in Congress, and every Republican candidate for office, is being coerced and threatened by an organization quite popular among their rich and corporate donors. The Americans for Tax Reform is headed by a politically ruthless man named Grover Norquist. He is the one who makes every Republican candidate sign a “NO TAX” pledge in order to have his favor and the favor of all the political cash that he controls.
If a Republican candidate refuses to sign the NO TAX pledge, he has no chance for financial support from the wealthy conservatives in the party. If he violates his pledge and succumbs in weakness to vote for any tax increase, or even now for cutting corporate subsidies [such as for oil companies], then that politician is assured of a well financed primary opponent in his next election.
It is just that mean and vindictive, and it assures almost 100% adherence to the party line by Republican rank and file congresspersons. That is why the Ryan scatter-gun budget carried almost all Republicans in the House and had few Republican dissenters in the senate. That is why all the lines in the sand are being drawn by Speaker Boehner, confidently predicting the Republicans will support no debt compromise that has any kind of tax increase in it.
When one understands that every Republican is running scared, then one may begin to understand the foolish positions to which these people are driven.
It means that they cannot support revenue increases. Everything must be taken out of spending. The budget has two legs – income and expenditures. If one of these is ruled entirely out of the process for balancing, then it makes the job next to impossible. And it forces consideration of inhumane and downright mean ideas as if they had logic or deserved attention. This is what is happening.
Republicans must be called out for their self-serving obeisance to the masters of corporate cash. Are they victims of political blackmail? Or, does their unthinking, slavish service of the money-masters involve something more like political prostitution?
It has been hoped that the Democrats would bring in budget balancing ideas which would increase revenue, principally by making the rich pay their fair share, with the costs of government be borne more by those who are reaping the greatest benefits from the system. Also, we are hoping for a cleaned up expenditure plan with the elimination of lower priority programs and the cost of foreign wars. Give-away programs, foreign and domestic, need to be examined and curtailed.
Most of us are sensible enough to recognize that it will take both revenue enhancement and expenditure controls to bring our budget in with meaningfully reduced deficits. Call on Republicans to shake off their money shackles and join others in sensible, patriotic, fiscally responsible actions.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer