Friday, January 07, 2011

Michael Grimm (R-NY) Wants To Shrink Government For You But For Himself... Not So Much


If you don't believe in the legitimate role of government to be an effective counterbalance to great wealth and power on behalf of ordinary citizens, then you want to shrink it or, as Grover Norquist went on to famously explain, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Yesterday Congress took a step in that direction as the House passed, 410-13, H.R. 22 to reduce the amount authorized for salaries and expenses of Member, committee and leadership offices in 2011 and 2012.

177 Democrats, across the ideological spectrum, joined all 233 Republicans to support the measure. Only 13 Democrats-- all progressives-- voted NO. The NO votes were:

Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Jesse Jackson (D-IL)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Jim Moran (D-VA)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

Grover Norquist won't like any of them! They are mostly Members who serve communities in dire need of the kind of societal action that a vigilant and activist government provides against the encroachments of self-serving, for-profit corporations. I asked Raul Grijalva why he and so many progressives went along with it. He called it a "symbolic non-issue. I prefer to keep my powder dry for the real fights, and this wasn’t a real fight. We knew how it was going to end already.” Ironically, though, the Republicans may even be going too far for corporate America-- not for billionaire vampires and predators like the Koch family, but for garden-variety predators like the ones represented by the U.S. Chamber. The Chamber, all aflutter over the appointment of one of their favorite sell-out Dems, William Daley, as Obama's chief of staff-- the man Gore credits with having resuscitated NAFTA when it was dead but only partially buried-- is thinking of joining progressive groups who are protesting Republican plans to cut back on infrastructure spending!

Of course the big Republican effort in shrinking government isn't a symbolic 5% rollback in House staff salaries; it's repealing health care reform. Maybe this is one where Obama will actually take a real stand on the side of working families and the Democratic base, although I actually doubt it. The DNC, though, is proceeding as though Obama will defend the flawed bill he signed last year and gave Greg Sargent at the Washington Post their plans. DNC talking points emphasize tying the Republicans to the hated insurance industry.

By repealing reform, Republicans would once again allow the industry to wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary Americans by depriving them of safeguards against specific industry abuses. And central to the message is that repeal would lead to an explosion in the deficit, an effort to use this fight to tell a story about GOP deficit hypocrisy:

* Republicans in Congress want to unravel the law that holds insurance companies in check.

* The insurance company lobbyists are working overtime with Republicans to return to the days when insurance companies were free to do whatever they want, including raising premiums and imposing higher costs on families and businesses to protect their CEO bonuses and corporate profits.

* Republicans will allow insurance companies to once again DENY coverage to children with existing conditions, CANCEL coverage when people get sick, and LIMIT the amount of care you can get-- even if you need it.

* When the insurance companies are free to pursue their profits without any accountability, people have fewer choices, fewer options, and little recourse.

* And, by rolling back the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are adding a TRILLION dollars to the deficit.

If Republican radicals and teabaggers get their way, insurance companies will be able to go back to:

* Dropping you just because you get sick.

* Denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.

* Kicking recent college grads off their parents' plans.

On top of that, small businesses would lose tax credits for offering coverage to their workers and seniors would lose help paying for their prescriptions. And keep in mind that very nearly every Republican in Congress who wants to repeal the health care law adamantly refuses to give up government-funded/taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for themselves and their families.

One hapless Republican stooge already stepped right into the poop. Teabagger Michael Grimm barely beat corporate Dem Mike McMahon in November in New York's 13th CD (Staten Island and a piece of Brooklyn), 59,346 (51%) to 55,056 (48%). He knows he's on the DCCC's target list, but he still managed to give his next opponent some nifty ammunition to use against him. Like so many of his selfish, right-wing colleagues, Grimm, a die-hard anti-government fanatic who is hysterically opposed to health care for his constituents, is looking forward to having it for himself and his own family.
In one of his first interviews since being sworn in, Grimm brushed off the suggestion that he was being hypocritical for accepting government-provided health insurance while calling for the repeal of Pres. Obama's health care reform.

"What am I, not supposed to have health care?" Grimm told the New York Daily News. "It's practicality. I'm not going to become a burden for the state because I don't have health care, and God forbid I get into an accident and I can't afford the operation...That can happen to anyone."

Whether freshman Republicans who campaigned adamantly against health care reform will take government-provided health insurance has become a top campaign issue already for Democrats.

Monday Robert Reich went right to the base of all this-- the corporate Big Lie, pushed relentlessly and hysterically by Republicans, while Conservative Consensus Democrats like Obama, Daley, Emanuel, Cuomo... are happy to let them get away with it. "The Big Lie," explains Reich, "is our economic problems are due to a government that’s too large, and therefore the solution is to shrink it."
The truth is our economic problems stem from the biggest concentration of income and wealth at the top since 1928, combined with stagnant incomes for most of the rest of us. The result: Americans no longer have the purchasing power to keep the economy going at full capacity. Since the debt bubble burst, most Americans have had to reduce their spending; they need to repay their debts, can’t borrow as before, and must save for retirement.

The short-term solution is for government to counteract this shortfall by spending more, not less. The long-term solution is to spread the benefits of economic growth more widely (for example, through a more progressive income tax, a larger EITC, an exemption on the first $20K of income from payroll taxes and application of payroll taxes to incomes over $250K, stronger unions, and more and better investments in education and infrastructure.)

But instead of telling the truth, Obama has legitimized the Big Lie by freezing non-defense discretionary spending, freezing federal pay, touting his deficit commission co-chairs’ recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase, and agreeing to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Will Obama stand up to the Big Lie? Will he use his State of the Union address to rebut it and tell the truth? Maybe, but so far there’s no evidence.

There's plenty of evidence, but what it adds up to is that Obama is on the Republicans' side. There's no reason to wait for the State of the Union. We have over the past two years to look at to know where he stands. Like Clinton, not quite as bad as a Republican... but not different enough for it to matter in most cases. And his definition of Change? Rahm Emanuel out; William Daley in.

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At 5:53 PM, Blogger lawguy said...

Unless you know of a republican who might be elected president who would actually invade Russia or China, I can't figure out how he is better.

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Bob Hopeless said...

"What am I,not supposed to have health care?" Sounds like a good slogan for the millions of Americans that they want to deny health care to.


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