Visual source: Newseum
Austerity champions and deficit fetishists in the Republican Party have pushed economic policies that hurt the vast majority of Americans. John J. Drew at the Taunton Daily Gazette gives an overview of how these policies are hurting our nation at the state level:
[T]he harsh content [of Republican economic policies] stands to set the tone for the 2012 elections. It legitimizes a punitive public attitude toward those who struggle to survive in the still-difficult American economy.
Why are we balancing the budget on the backs of the poor? We know that investments in programs that give a boost to poor children and working people and provide opportunities for job-training and education have a huge monetary return down the line.
This budget hits hard the people who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, to put food on their tables, to send their kids to college. Meanwhile oil moguls get subsidies and the 1 percent richest Americans get tax breaks. [...]
Americans need to mobilize to prevent the budget cuts from the current House budget as well as the automatic “sequestration” cuts that will be triggered if no alternative budget agreement is reached. We need to make the choices that will protect our children and our future. We cannot let the programs vital to the health, education and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens be decimated while military spending is protected and the very wealthy continue to get tax breaks.
at the AP
looks into the latest question of the day: are Republicans deliberating trying to hurt the economy for political gain?
Some top Democrats say yes, pointing to GOP stances on the debt limit and other issues that they claim are causing unnecessary economic anxiety and retarding growth. [...] "The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy," Schumer said in a statement. In an interview, Schumer added: "I hope that the speaker is not doing this because he doesn't want to see the economy improve, because what he said will certainly rattle the markets."
Regardless of whether Schumer's suspicions are right, there's evidence that unceasing partisan gridlock and the prospect of big tax increases and spending cuts in January are causing some companies to postpone expansions. Even small economic slowdowns are bad news for Obama, who is seeking re-election amid high unemployment.
at The Carroll County Times
examines the disastrous Republican economic record in the context of the GOP's state of denial:
[P]oint out to Republicans that it was under their watch and it was their policies that put us in the current economic condition, and the response will more often than not be something along the lines of “that’s just the liberal pro-Obama media pushing the socialist president’s agenda.” Complete denial.
Contrast that to Democrats and their response to media criticism of Obama’s “evolving” gay marriage views before he actually came out and supported it. Those stories and opinion pieces almost all fault Obama for trying to play politics and remain on the fence about a contentious issue. But do you hear waves of denials from Democrats? No.
Democrats and Republicans both engage in questionable behaviors. For every example a Democrat has of Republican bad behavior, there are as many examples from Republicans of bad behavior on the Democratic side. That’s why the overall approval rating of Congress has been in the toilet for so long. People of all political stripes know that elected officials too often say and do things based entirely on how it is going to impact their career as opposed to doing what is right for the country. Democrats, however, recognize when their folks are doing this. They may not actively publicize it, but they are far less likely to point fingers at the Republicans, try to shift blame or try to ignore the wrongdoing in their own party than the Republicans when they are in a similar situation.
The more Republicans push their slash-and-burn, reverse Robin Hood policies that take from the 99% and give to the 1%, the more they'll alienate voters, no matter how much they deny it.
But denial is a key part of Republican strategy.
The New York Times looks at the vast Republican campaign against women and points out that on these issues too, Republicans refuse to take any responsibility for actions:
Despite the persistent gender gap in opinion polls and mounting criticism of their hostility to women’s rights, Republicans are not backing off their assault on women’s equality and well-being. New laws in some states could mean a death sentence for a pregnant woman who suffers a life-threatening condition. But the attack goes well beyond abortion, into birth control, access to health care, equal pay and domestic violence.
Republicans seem immune to criticism. In an angry speech last month, John Boehner, the House speaker, said claims that his party was damaging the welfare of women were “entirely created” by Democrats. Earlier, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, sneered that any suggestion of a G.O.P. “war on women” was as big a fiction as a “war on caterpillars.”
But just last Wednesday, Mr. Boehner refuted his own argument by ramming through the House a bill that seriously weakens the Violence Against Women Act. That followed the Republican push in Virginia and elsewhere to require medically unnecessary and physically invasive sonograms before an abortion, and Senate Republicans’ persistent blocking of a measure to better address the entrenched problem of sex-based wage discrimination.
Speaking of GOP attempts to limit rights, Ian Duncan and Lisa Mascaro
at The Los Angeles Times
analyze the GOP's latest move: the attachment of a bill banning same-sex marraige at miliatry chapels to a defense bill:
The annual National Defense Authorization Act, approved 299 to 120 on Friday, is a traditionally bipartisan effort that can prove difficult for lawmakers to oppose. The bill includes a 1.7% annual pay raise for the troops but also is loaded with politically charged extras. [...]
The bill addresses gay marriage with two provisions. One would ban performing gay marriages on any facility owned by the military. Another would protect military chaplains from punishment if they declined to marry a gay couple.
The Department of Defense had opened the door to gay weddings on bases in a memo last September after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which barred gays from openly serving in the military. The policy change said chaplains were allowed to perform same-sex marriages but noted they could not be required to. It is not clear whether any ceremonies have yet been performed in military chapels.
at the Las Vegas Review Journal
explains why Republicans are in "chaos" in Nevada:
[M[ainstream Republicans began talking openly about forming a shadow organization in Nevada to channel national party money into voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, on the theory that [the Clark County GOP] run by Paul supporters might not be trusted to enthusiastically gather votes for a far less conservative candidate.
"This is not unusual in this state. We've had a lot of orangutans in the party over the years," says Sig Rogich, an establishment Republican ad man. "No one's going to contribute money to a bunch of orangutans."
Instead, Rogich said, the Romney campaign will run its own network, which could be turned over to establishment types who may have a hard time winning over conservatives, such as Gov. Brian Sandoval.[...]
Any shadow organization would be seen as an affront to the organized Paul supporters who spent years getting involved at the grass-roots level, learning the rules and showing up in force to win party positions. They followed the rules, and now they're being told the rules don't matter, this source said. But the mainstream Republican view is that philosophy doesn't matter as much as victory. "There are sensible Republicans who understand at the end of the day, it's about winning," Rogich says.
Meanwhile, on the topic of the NATO summit, The Christian Science Monitor
's Howard LaFranchi
looks at the Afghanistan issue:
When NATO nations meet in Chicago on Sunday, one question will top the agenda: What happens in Afghanistan when US combat troops leave?
To be sure, some troops from NATOcountries, led by the United States, will likely stay behind after 2014 – both to train Afghans and act as a hedge against the Taliban's return. The summit will try to iron out some of those details.
But perhaps even more crucial – certainly for Afghanistan itself – is the question of who will foot the bill for Afghans to protect themselves. Afghanistan does not have remotely enough money to defend itself. Left alone, it could afford to pay about 30,000 soldiers and police officers. Currently, with international aid, it has more than 300,000 – a number that some experts say is too low.