The Koch Republic is still formulating its response to President Obama's expected executive actions on immigration. Koch Republic employee (and Senator-elect) Tom Cotton of Arkansas noted:
I don't think anyone wants to shut down government because that doesn't solve the problem.
Actually, we'd love to shut down the government for good, except the parts we like. You know, ones like the DoD and Homeland Security, the useful ones. Anyway, while we plan to eventually get rid of the rest, we've learned to be more careful about how we go about it. Don't want to kick the hornet's nest again like we did with that last shutdown. We'll go with the "death by a thousand cuts" approach instead. It's slower but we'll keep whittling away the budget until those so called "safety net" programs and the other useless agencies like the EPA are gone.
Washington is buzzing with speculation about what executive actions President Obama might take on the immigration front.
Yesterday, Koch Republic employee (and GOP Rep.) Steve King refused to: "take a position we're not going to use the power of the purse to restrain a president who has threatened to violate the Constitution in the most obscene manner possible.”
I really, really, really
can't stand Obama. He keeps finding clever ways to legally use executive action to get around us and it makes my blood boil. I just love thinking about cutting off his funding or even impeaching him. Makes me feel so much better. And the base loves it, too. They get all excited when I talk about how he's flouting the Constitution (even if he isn't). When I mention impeachment, like I did earlier this year, they practically pee in their pants. As for immigration, we've got to stop letting all those undesirables into the country. If we don't, they'll soon outnumber us real Americans. (Yes, I know we took the country from the Native Americans but that was Manifest Destiny.) Anyway, immigrants are part of the reason why we got saddled with Obama in the first place. We need to be deporting them faster, not slowing down the process.
This appeared in an article in yesterday's New York Times:
Congressional Republicans intend to present a plan to overhaul Medicare, calling for voucherlike "premium supports" to steer people 65 and over into buying commercial health insurance, and to transform Medicaid, which would be cut and turned into block grants to state governments. They also intend to set up a new commission to study options on Social Security, while relying on what one House Republican aide called "the solid foundation" of the Ryan budget plan.
The Koch Republic has no interest in funding your health care or retirement. If you haven't taken responsibility for ensuring you can pay for them, that's your problem. We view health care and retirement as a privilege, not a right. It's true, at the moment, we're recommending a voucher system to replace today's Medicare, and a block grant system for Medicaid, but the long term goal is to eliminate both. Ditto for Social Security. Eventually, we'd like to get to a new approach we call Work Til You Drop (WTYD) for those who haven't put aside sufficient money to retire early. As for health care, we'll have the Apple A Day (AAD) program for those under 50 who don't have medical insurance and can't afford retail prices. For those over 50, the program will transition to Aspirin A Day. Problem solved!
The Koch brothers spent roughly $300 million during the 2014 election cycle and came away with control of the Senate and a stronger grip on the House. Pretty cheap investment when you're worth over $85 billion (their combined net worth). Great ROI, too.
By way of comparison, the average NFL franchise is worth $1.43 billion. If they wanted to buy the Dallas Cowboys, it would cost them upwards of $3.2 billion. And what would they get for their money? Nothing but frustration if the team didn't do well. Then there's those players always wanting more and more money. Who needs that?
Buying Congress was so much cheaper and promises to be much more fun to own.
Koch Republic spokesman (and GOP Senator) Mitch McConnell had this to say about the EPA regulations which focus on curbing carbon pollution: “I fully intend to do everything I can do to fight these onerous EPA regulations.”
Translation: Look, Koch Republic upper management has made it abundantly clear to me that there can be no downturn in fossil fuel industry profitability. They have a huge financial stake in that industry. The profits must continue to flow unabated. Now, I'm not stupid and neither are they. We know the globe is warming, the ice caps are melting, and carbon pollution is to blame. But, really, who needs polar bears and walrus in the wild? If you want to see a polar bear or a walrus, go to the zoo. The important thing is to keep the fossil fuel industry healthy and growing. The EPA and its annoying regulations mustn't be allowed to get in the way!
Today, Koch Republic employee (and GOP Senator) Ted Cruz decided to join the discussion about net neutrality. He tweeted: "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."
Translation: Koch Republic upper management would like to eliminate as much competition as possible for the propaganda they distribute via the Internet. Ideally, they'd like to corner the fast lanes in the Internet and relegate all political messaging they don't agree with to the slow lanes, or better yet, the lanes to nowhere. This net neutrality nonsense where everyone has equal access is unacceptable and has so got to go.
Koch Republic spokesmen (and GOP Congressmen) John Boehner and Mitch McConnell teamed up in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week. They started off by stating: "We are humbled by this opportunity to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks."
Translation: We've kept the Federal government in gridlock for years, but now that we control Congress, we've got to act like we're going to do something about the plight of the middle class so the finger of blame isn't pointed at us. We'll go with our usual approach -- tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations, you know, the "job creators." Of course, we can't be held responsible if the money ends up overseas. It's a global economy, right? If the masses get restless, we might throw them a bone by raising the minimum wage a few pennies. Then again, maybe we'll just pretend to be sympathetic to the middle class struggles, but not actually do anything to help them. We're really good at that.
The topic of Federal tax code reform was in the news today. Koch Republic employee (and GOP Rep.) Tom Price of Georgia had this to say: "Tax reform is absolutely imperative to get this economy rolling.”
Translation: Koch Republic upper management is tired of paying taxes. They have islands to buy, palatial estates to build, and offshore bank accounts to fill. Okay, the bit about tax reform getting the economy rolling is nonsense, but the base loves it, even the middle class and poor ones. We'll take a few bucks off their taxes, too, and they'll be thrilled. See, everyone wins.
(Now that the Koch brothers and their conservative plutocrat allies have completed their acquisition of the U.S. Congress, adding the Senate to their portfolio and increasing their holdings in the House, the country really needs a name which more accurately describes who's in charge. "United States of America" just seems too vague so I'd like to suggest "Koch Republic" as a fitting substitute. But, I digress.)
In remarks today, Koch Republic spokesman (and GOP Rep.) John Boehner noted: "Finding common ground is going to be hard work, but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us."
Translation: Mr. President, you've really got to stop with that "rebuilding the middle class" nonsense. Koch Republic upper management just isn't going to tolerate it. Those proposals of yours are going to cost them money and we all know that's unacceptable. Besides, a whole bunch of the middle class voted for us on Tuesday. They clearly like austerity and hate Social Security, Medicare, the rest of those "safety net" programs. They long for the challenge of living in poverty and we want to help them realize that dream. So, please, Mr. President, stop getting in the way.
Someday, historians will note the American decline began in the 1980s when wealthy conservatives figured out how to take policies designed to impoverish the middle class, wrap them in a sugar coating of patriotism and Christian values, and get millions of middle class voters to swallow them. In fact, not just swallow them, but come back time and again and ask for more.
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, does a great job in the following short video clips of explaining how we got into the mess we're currently in:
* The Truth About the Economy
* 7 Big Economic Lies
* Why Taxes Have to Be Raised on the Rich
* The War on the Poor and Working Families
The question for us in 2014 is -- will those future historians be writing about a decline which ultimately led to the demise of the United States? Or will they be writing about a period of darkness before the American middle class, what was left of it, woke up and took back their democracy?
How the story ends is up to us.
I read today that prayer events were held in Nevada and Utah asking the Almighty to provide more water for farmers and others in those drought-stricken states. I guess this is the new strategy for dealing with climate change? Instead of taking steps to drastically reduce carbon emissions, we're to pray for rain? Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical.
Why would the Almighty want to help us anyway? I mean, we were given a perfectly lovely planet and we've trashed it. And, lately, we've been cooking it. Exactly why, then, are we deserving of divine intervention?
Not to pick on Nevada and Utah, but they haven't exactly been putting their best foot forward when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. True, Nevada is number two in installed solar capacity, but Utah, despite being the 8th sunniest state, isn't in the top 12 for installed solar. And, more significantly, both states generate the vast majority of their electricity by burning fossil fuels.
Here's a breakdown by electricity source for Utah:
Coal -- 78%
Natural Gas -- 16%
Hydroelectric -- 3%
Other -- 3%
Now for Nevada:
Coal -- 11%
Natural Gas -- 72%
Hydroelectric -- 7%
Other -- 10%
Perhaps what's needed here is a little less praying and a lot more action to reduce carbon emissions, not just by Utah and Nevada, but by every state in the US and by every country on Earth. I'm just saying.
Oxfam has published a report about economic inequality entitled Working For The Few which everyone should read carefully. Trust me, it will be time well spent.
The report describes an increasingly perilous global situation and provides some very worrisome statistics. Quoting from the report:
* Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
* The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
* The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
* Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
* The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
* In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Americans should find the data in the last bullet particularly alarming. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln spoke of "government of the people, by the people, for the people," but the last bullet means we effectively now have government for the wealthy
. That despite the efforts of a progressive president and his allies in Congress, the laws and policies of the government still yielded an outcome which strongly favored the wealthy over the middle class and the poor. That despite attempts by progressives to reverse the trend, conservatives in Congress managed to thwart those efforts enough to keep the fundamental trajectory toward greater inequality intact. This is alarming indeed.