Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pledge to America?

On September 27th, 1994, just six weeks before that years mid-term election, the Republican Party released what they called a "Contract with America," sponsored by the likes of Newt (Newt) Gingrich, Richard (DICK) Armey, Tom Delay, and John Boehner. The "contract" specified ten items the Republicans promised to "bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny." Please notice that they did not promise to pass into law or implement any of the contracts provisions, just that they be brought to the House floor, debated, voted, and available for inspection by the public (as if they could keep normal House business from the public). The "contract" promised what Republicans normally promise, tax cuts for everybody while increasing spending for defense and balancing the national budget. It promised to begin term limits for members of Congress at twelve years (but only for new members, since some of the sponsors had already passed that mark, like Newt Gingrich), and welfare reform (always with the welfare reform).
All ten items came to a vote in the House of Representatives within one hundred days, and the House passed nine of the ten measures. Yet the Senate was cool to the set of measures and progress for them slowed. President Clinton promised to veto certain provisions he deemed as unsound, calling the Republican ploy a "Contract on America."
In the end only three of the least controversial measures had become law by the end of 1995.
Read all about it here: Contract with America
Last Thursday, Republican House members, sans jackets and ties (because they're just like good old plain working stiffs like the rest of us) met at the Tart Lumber Company in Sterling, Virginia. No one knows why. They were led by the House Minority Leader, Rep John Boehner (R-OH, who of course also helped sponsor the "Contract with America"), who introduced to the nation their 21 page "Pledge to America."
Now that folks have had a chance to look it over, no one knows why they did that too.
When announcing this pledge they made a point of stating that they were following the wishes of the majority of Americans. They can do that on almost any issue because they have that majority of Americans in their back pocket where they can pull them out any time they want to agree with everything they say. So let's see how their pledge helps the majority of Americans:
Hey, guess what, they want to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy from expiring, even though it will add 4 trillion to the deficit over ten years, because as everyone knows you don't increase taxes on anybody "in the middle" of a recession. It doesn't seem to matter to them that the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded the recession ended in June of last year. Oh my, that would take away their big argument for keeping those tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 to 3 per cent of Americans. Oh wait a minute, they still claim rescinding the cuts would hurt small businesses. All 2 to 3 per cent of all small businesses. And that would affect those 2 to 3 per cent because those businesses were large enough to surpass the income specified in law, over $250,000. So is that in the best interest of the majority of Americans? Not according to the real majority of Americans where 53% want them rescinded (38% do not, 9% are sitting around with their thumbs up their butts. CBS News/ New York Times poll conducted Sept. 10-14). If I remember my high school math correctly, or was it algebra... 53% is more than half of 100%, which would make the 53% the majority position. If I were the Republican leadership I'd check my back pocket to see who they have in there, because it's not who they claim them to be.
Am I being too sarcastic? To smug. To harsh on our Republican friends, who after all are only trying to do what's best for the country according to their perverted little world view? Am I?
Yes! And delightedly so!
Let me extrapolate a moment. The Republicans want to keep these tax breaks for the wealthy, make them permanent in fact. They don't say how they're going to pay for them, which means they'll have an excuse to further cut social programs, which in turn increases the poverty level because a lot of people rely on some of those social programs to continue working, like child care. Then they'll want to cut welfare and unemployment benefits for those who are out of work because of Republican policies, while at the same time vilifying the unemployed for being too lazy to get jobs (or like Senator Orin Hatch of Utah who wants those on welfare to be drug tested), spreading throughout the nation the lie that those who have been screwed due to Republican policies or lack of oversight (deregulation) are somehow responsible for the dire circumstances they find themselves in, trying to convince the American people who through some miracle still have jobs that those who don't are undeserving of help. All of that just to keep giving away money to the richest of us, who certainly don't need it.
Check this out dear readers, from our friend Bill Maher: "New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should be Vilified."

To be continued.

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