Well, that didn't take long. The GOP Congress wasted no time in getting back to bad behavior once it returned to session in January. Here are notable lowlights from the first two weeks back. On the bright side, we can now hope that we are past the halfway point and are counting down toward the end of the GOP-controlled House. With record low approval ratings for Congress, an economy that is improving (too slowly, but still...), and the likely Republican nominee either being an embodiment of the plutocratic elite or an embodiment of grandiose self-importance and incoherent white male rage, things are looking surprisingly bright for the Democratic electoral chances in November. So what's happening now?
Jobs? Boo, hiss: Boehner, Cantor, and the GOP in general found a way - yet again - to embarass themselves on the occasion of the State of the Union address. I refer to Boehner and Cantor at first sitting ontheir hands, and then slowly and reluctantly offering tepid applause, as President Obama recited statistics onthe numbers of jobs now being created by the private sector. So funny - I thought the GOP was eager to see job creation by the private sector. Surely that's the sort of thing that wins bipartisan approval, right guys? It's not like the GOP wants to see conomic failure in America, just to hurt the President's re-election chances, right? Guys??
Dig, baby, dig: The Keystone XL pipeline would transport oil dug from the tar sands in Canada - producing huge amounts of CO2 emissions and ground, water, and air pollution - across the U.S. to Gulf Coast ports...where, quite likely, a lot of it would be exported overseas to Chian and elsewhere, rather than be used in the U.S. Naturally, the GOP, this time led by Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, think this is a great idea. So they are attempting an end run around environmental review and attempting to force quick approval of the pipeline, in the face of foreign policy, national security, and legal questions and concerns. Apparently, for the GOP, not even national security and the rule of law are concepts that outweigh subservience to the fossil fuel industry.
Death to windmills: But it's not enough to promote the dirtiest fossil fuel around. No, the GOP wants to destroy clean alternative energy as well. Never mind that alternative energy is actually a sector of economic growth, with thousands of well-paying jobs being created and exports (such as solar technology) increasing. This time, the ever-reprehensible Darryl Issa is back, trying to make a scandal of clean energy tax credits. So once again, here's the GOP equation: tax breaks for fossil fuel - good, tax breaks for alternative energy - bad. Because the government shouldn't "pick winners," you see. Instead, they should give special breaks to the most profitable companies in the history of the world.
All money is equal, but some money is more equal than yours: Rep. Eric Cantor accidentally provided some insight into the plutocrat-worshipping mentality of today's GOP. Appearing on CNN, he managed to argue that it's good that billionaires can have effective tax rates lower than yours: because their money is not the same as their secretary’s, or yours. You see, when that money is unearned wealth (dividends, capital gains, etc.) it just naturally deserves a lower tax rate - because, uh, job creators and all that...so, here's the actual statement:
CANTOR: Well, Soledad, you mentioned that the president put out there his vision on how we're going to rescue the middle class. And I'll tell you, we all want to make sure that there's a better direction, more hope for the future for everybody, not just certain parts of our country, but all of us, 100 percent of us together.
The issue, I think, that's going to play out this election is a question of Warren Buffett's secretary. I mean, if you look at, you know, the issue through her eyes, we want her to make more money. We want her to have more hope for the future, but the answer is not to make sure that Washington taxes people more.
And this notion that somehow the income that Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for a secretary, we know that's not the same either. We know that when you make capital gains income, it's much different than when a secretary is paid a wage.
And so, listen, we've got issues of tax reform. We're all for tax reform. We're for generating economic growth.
Got that? It's not just that the rich have more money than you do. It's that their money is more special than yours - and so it should be taxed at a lower rate. So if someone like Mitt Romney or Warren Buffet makes tens of millions of dollars in non-wage income, it's good that they pay a lower percentage than someone making tens of thousands. One thing that has become clear over the past year is that the primary concern Republicans have regarding "tax reform" is to make sure that the wealthiest americans pay even less. I would like to offer a sincere thanks to Rep. Cantor, however - for accidentally revealing part of the reason that Republicans think it is so vital to ease the burden on the overtaxed ultra-wealthy.(capital gains are special)