Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Boehner Is Too Weak In His Own Caucus To Negotiate Reasonable Cuts That Work For The American People


If you're on Alan Grayson's mailing list, you saw his note this week about the damage the GOP will do if they don't back off the Sequestration mania. (If you're not on Grayson's mailing list, just contribute even just one dollar to his reelection campaign and you'll be on it-- or check out his Facebook page and read it there.)
Opponents of The Sequester... the 12% budget cut for the military (leaving aside soldier pay and benefits), and the 9% budget cut for other federal programs (leaving aside Medicare and Social Security)... are focusing on the military cuts. Their theory seems to be that the American public has been signing blank checks made out to "DoD" for so long that there is no way that we'll stop now. Or maybe they think that we will subliminally translate the words "defense cuts" into "some crazy Arab is going to blow me up" without anyone actually having to say that, much less make the case for it.

I have a nodding acquaintance with polling, so I understand that foreign aid might be the least popular federal program right now, second only to black helicopters. But our immunization program alone saves three million lives each year. Our emergency food assistance program fed more than 66 million starving people last year...

And the total cost of all that food was equal to one-sixteenth of a new aircraft carrier. In fact, for the cost of one aircraft carrier, we could feed every hungry person in the entire world.

So let's see. A nine percent cut in the foreign aid budget means that six million more people go hungry. And American taxpayers save 44 cents a month. Not even enough to buy one hamburger.

Further translating this into Americanese, give some thought as to what The Sequester will do to the food stamp program, or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. A lot of Americans will be going to bed cold and hungry.

...So here is one argument against The Sequester that you're not hearing elsewhere-- it will cause a lot of pain. A lot of hunger, a lot of disease, a lot of death. I understand that this argument is hopelessly unfashionable, and completely contrary to the zeitgeist of fear and hatred that dominates our political discourse. But there it is, nevertheless. I sure see it. Maybe you do, too.
Grayson tends to get along very well on a personal level with his Republican colleagues. He's friendly by nature and always keeps an open mind to other people's ideas. He's also a very smart guy and he knows when those ideas are batshitcrazy. Here are what some of those Republican colleagues of his in the House, the ones who actually want the Sequester and positively crave the pain it will bring people, have said about the Sequester recently... and publicly:
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY): “Sequestration will take place… I am excited. It will be the first time since I’ve been in Congress that we really have significant cuts.”

Paul Broun (R-GA/John Birch Society): “I want to see it go into place.”

Mike Pompeo (R-KS/Koch Industries): “It’s going to be a homerun… I am very optimistic that on March 2nd, we’ll all wake up and America will have tremendous respect for what its House of Representatives led and what it’s federal government was able to accomplish.”

Date rape Doctor Scott DesJarlais (R-TN): “Sequestration needs to happen… Bottom line, it needs to happen and that’s the deal we struck to raise the debt limit.”

Steve Scalise (R-LA): “The consensus is we want the sequester numbers to come in and to finally see spending reduced in Washington.”

Mick Mulvaney (R-SC): “We want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get.”

Tim Huelskamp (R-KS): “The majority of the caucus agrees that at the minimum, the spending cuts we have already agreed on, must happen.”

Tom Cole (R-OK): “We would rather see those cuts happen… I can assure you that there will not be a political blink on this. These cuts will occur.”

Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA): “We’re willing to let it go through till they (Democrats) respond to us.”

Jim Lankford (R-OK): “We’d rather do it another way. But if the only way it can be done is sequestration, then it has to be done.”

Jim Jordan (R-OH): “The only thing that’s worse than cutting national defense is not having any scheduled cuts at all.”

Foley's boy page rape enabler John Shimkus (R-IL): “He [President Obama] can announce all he wants. Sequestration is coming. We've got to get spending cuts... No new revenue. It's all about spending."
I suppose President Obama isn't giving up just because of Shimkus' stern warning. He addressed Congress about the dangers of the looming Sequester again yesterday, putting pressure on any Republican who doesn't represent a totally gerrymandered, Foxified district. You can watch the whole post above. Here are some excerpts:
As I said in my State of the Union address last week, our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs. That’s our top priority. That's our North Star. That drives every decision we make. And it has to drive every decision that Congress and everybody in Washington makes over the next several years.

 And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite. It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.

Here’s what’s at stake. Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion. More than two-thirds of that was through some pretty tough spending cuts. The rest of it was through raising taxes-- tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. And together, when you take the spending cuts and the increased tax rates on the top 1 percent, it puts us more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.

Now, Congress, back in 2011, also passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach that $4 trillion goal, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year. And by the way, the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration.

Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday.

Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.  It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.

Emergency responders like the ones who are here today-- their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.

...So these cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction-- people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.

...And here’s the thing: They don’t have to happen. There is a smarter way to do this–- to reduce our deficits without harming our economy. But Congress has to act in order for that to happen.

...I know Democrats in the House and in the Senate have proposed such a plan-- a balanced plan, one that pairs more spending cuts with tax reform that closes special interest loopholes and makes sure that billionaires can’t pay a lower tax rate than their salary-- their secretaries.

And I know that Republicans have proposed some ideas, too. I have to say, though, that so far at least the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations, so the burden is all on first responders or seniors or middle-class families. They double down, in fact, on the harsh, harmful cuts that I’ve outlined. They slash Medicare and investments that create good, middle-class jobs. And so far at least what they’ve expressed is a preference where they’d rather have these cuts go into effect than close a single tax loophole for the wealthiest Americans. Not one.

Well, that’s not balanced. That would be like Democrats saying we have to close our deficits without any spending cuts whatsoever. It’s all taxes. That's not the position Democrats have taken. That's certainly not the position I’ve taken. It’s wrong to ask the middle class to bear the full burden of deficit reduction. And that’s why I will not sign a plan that harms the middle class.

So now Republicans in Congress face a simple choice: Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations? That's the choice.

Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their job because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole? Are you willing to have teachers laid off, or kids not have access to Head Start, or deeper cuts in student loan programs just because you want to protect a special tax interest loophole that the vast majority of Americans don't benefit from? That's the choice. That's the question.

...[M]y door is open. I’ve put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But nobody should want these cuts to go through, because the last thing our families can afford right now is pain imposed unnecessarily by partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity here in Washington.

...I need everybody who’s watching today to understand we’ve got a few days. Congress can do the right thing. We can avert just one more Washington-manufactured problem that slows our recovery, and bring down our deficits in a balanced, responsible way. That’s my goal. That’s what would do right by these first responders. That’s what would do right by America’s middle class. That’s what I’m going to be working on and fighting for not just over the next few weeks, but over the next few years.
Boehner, drunk as usual, flipped out after the president's speech and started playing the idiotic GOP blame game they keep trying to push to the media: “Washington Democrats’ newfound concern about the president’s sequester is appreciated, but words alone won’t avert it. Replacing the president’s sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years. To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?”

These 2 clowns pushed thru the Sequester
He keeps referring to the GOP sequester/Austerity agenda as "the president’s sequester." But it was his own proposal, a sop to placate the unruly, drooling teabaggers in his own caucus. 

Here's the roll call vote when Boehner forced it through the House 269-161. Not only did he personally vote for it-- something Speakers almost never do, not even drunken ones-- but every single GOP leader also voted for it, from direct henchmen like Majority Leader Eric Cantor, GOP Chief Whip Kevin McCarthy and NRCC head Greg Walden, to the entire Boehner team of Establishment shills: chairmen Paul Ryan (Budget), Dave Camp (Ways & Means), Spencer Baucus (Financial Services), Buck McKeon (Armed Services), Mike Rogers (Intelligence), Doc Hastings (Natural Resources), Frank Lucas (Agriculture), Ed Royce (Foreign Affairs), Jeff Miller (Veterans' Affairs), Darrell Issa (Oversight), Hal Rogers (Appropriations), John Kline (Education and Workforce), Fred Upton (Energy and Commerce), Bill Shuster (Transportation and Infrastructure), Mike McCaul (Homeland Security), Bob Goodlatte (Judiciary), Pete Sessions (Rules), Lamar Smith (Science and Technology), and Sam Graves (Small Business). Yep, that day, Boehner had the gang all there. They pushed this thing through and now they want to blame everyone else? I'll tell you who didn't vote for this hot mess, who knew what a catastrophe is was destined to turn into: progressives. Let me just name a couple dozen familiar names of Members of Congress who always seem to have their heads on straight and don't go in for this kind of bullshit. Among the 161 who voted NO way Jose:
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Bruce Braley (D-IA)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Ed Markey (D-MA) [Let me mention that Markey's ConservaDem opponent in the Massachusetts Senate primary, Stephen Lynch voted, like Boehner, for the Sequester.]
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
John Tierney (D-MA)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)

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At 8:23 PM, Anonymous me said...

I told Obama, fuck the republicans - let the "fiscal cliff" come. Under the circumstances, it would give the best possible outcome.

But DO NOT - not for ANY reason - compromise with the scumpublicas. If you do, you and the entire country will regret it, and soon.

But did he listen to me? Shit. He listened to me as much this time as he has done all along, which is to say, not at all.

Every time I give him advice, and tell him what will happen if he doesn't follow it - he doesn't follow it, and my predictions come to pass. Every goddamn time.

Now who am I, to give advice to the president? I'm nobody, so I can't fault him for not listening to me. But Jesus! The advice I've been giving has been so FREAKING OBVIOUS that I can't understand why he hasn't figured it out for himself.

Instead, he tries and tries and tries to kiss republican ass, but doesn't succeed and can't get anything done. Well, duh. WTF else would he expect when dealing with the dumbest and most crooked people on the planet?

I thought he was supposed to be smart. But it looks like he's only smarter than Bush, and we all know what that means.


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