On December 22, 2011, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner pondered, “Why not do the right thing for the American people even if it’s not exactly what we want?” letting slip a stark fact of life under Republican rule, namely that by doing the “People’s work,” Republicans are doing us a favor.
The fact is, the Republican Party has NEVER introduced, sponsored or supported a single piece of legislation that benefited the working people of this nation – NOT A SINGLE ONE. So, as we head into 2012, it’s time to reflect on this undeniable truth and compile a list (with help from the DSCC) of 2011’s Greatest Republican Dirty Tricks:
1) Republican Assault on America’s Health.
All Republican Presidential candidates promise to repeal “Obamacare,” thus promising kick people off the health insurance racket rolls by re-instating pre-existing conditions as a qualifier to obtaining insurance on the private market and and kick 2.5 million young adults, once again, off their parents’ health plan.
When the Republican majority took control of the House, they wasted no time wasting America’s time with a symbolic vote to “repeal Obamacare” – a move that solely benefits the for-profit health insurance racket.
Here’s what that ACTUALLY means (compiled by The Gazette):
- • Medicare beneficiaries would no longer be eligible for free preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Nearly three-quarters of these beneficiaries (71.1 percent) have taken advantage of the benefit for at least one free preventive service between January and November 201
- • The infamous Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”—the huge gap in prescription drug coverage—would grow rather than diminish through rebates and ultimately close. About 46,000 Iowans received a rebate check for prescription drugs in 2010, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, a similar number received even larger discounts—an average of $581 per person through just October—while in the doughnut hole. The gap in Part D coverage will continue to shrink each year, unless health reform is repealed.
- • Insurance companies could again deny health coverage for children with a pre-existing condition, a practice that is now prohibited. More than 51,000 children in Iowa have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition that could have resulted in denial of coverage in the individual market prior to reform.
- • Many young adults would no longer be able to remain on their parents’ insurance. In Iowa, 25,700 young adults are now eligible to continue receiving coverage in this manner.
- • Women would continue to pay higher premiums than men. In Iowa, every one of the best-selling individual market plans currently charges a 40-year-old, non-smoking woman higher premiums than a 40-year-old, non-smoking man. Gender rating will be made illegal in 2014, unless the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
- • Tax cuts to help lower- and middle-income individuals and families pay for health care premiums would be taken away. Under the current law, 261,200 people in Iowa will be eligible for these premium tax cuts in 2014.
2) Republican Assault on the Elderly.
All Republican Presidential candidates back Ayn Rand ideologue Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a coupon program. Thus, throwing Granny to the mercy of the private health insurance racket.
“The Republican budget would very dramatically change Medicare. The plan would turn a single-payer system into vouchers for private insurance, and the value of those vouchers would fall steadily behind the cost of that insurance, so that within a relatively short time it would cover only a small fraction of the cost of insurance.”
3) Republican Tax Giveaways to Corporations and the Wealthy
It’s no accident that the top 1% control 42% of the wealth in America. That appalling statistic came by design of a tax structure favoring the rich that took us from the MOST to the LEAST upwardly mobile with the widest income gap of all industrialized nations.
As Justice Lewis D. Brandies famously said, “”We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” But you see, the Oligarchs can’t afford a vibrant democracy on the grounds that it’s bad for business. An “uppity” worker is a worker not-so-easily controlled. So the rich use the “mad money” from their low tax rates to further corrupt government and turn it into, as FDR explained, a mere appendage to their own affairs.
Case in point is Paul Ryan’s “bold” kiss up/kick down budget proposal that, not only, throws granny to the mercy of the for-profit health insurance racket, but also drops the top tax rate for rich people from 35 percent to 25 percent. As Matt Taibbi wrote, “All by itself, that one change means that the government would be collecting over $4 trillion less over the next ten years.”
Republicans are fond of repeating the lie that “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” In the typical Republican fashion, the truth is exactly the opposite of that statement.
The Republican answer to the problems caused by unfunded tax-cuts for the wealthy will always be “more unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy” because the real Republican mission is to destroy the uppity middle class so the “right” people rule, run everything and have all the wealth.
In fact, we DO have a revenue problem. If Congress simply did NOTHING and let the Bush tax giveaways expire, the deficit Republicans scream about as an excuse to destroy the social safety net would be gone by the end of Obama’s second term.
4) Republicans Assault on Workers
Rather than have a “laser focus of jobs,” as promised, Republicans are using the economic crisis their policies created to strip workers of their rights.
All around the country, state governments are targeting union rights, workplace protection, social services, and the ability of middle-class and working poor to have a voice. But, in large part thanks to the momentum of the Wisconsin protests, they’re finding it difficult to do so quietly. In state after state, the Americans whose rights and services are being cut are rising up against the decades-long shift of wealth and power to corporations and the very wealthy.”
The National Labor Relations Board has come under furious attack from Republicans in Congress, and decades-old workers’ rights are at risk. Backed by a well-financed lobbying and publicity offensive, Republicans are using a recent labor-law complaint against Boeing to achieve a radical goal that goes far beyond the legal issues in the case: unraveling workers’ rights that have been part of the fabric of our social contract since the Great Depression.
5) Republican Voter Suppression
If you can’t legitimately win on the field of ideas, and your policies are designed to enrich the few at the expense of the man, then make sure to limit access to the voting booth of the types of people who traditionally vote Democratic.
Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, calls the voter ID laws “a solution without a problem … it’s not going to make the vote more secure. What it is going to do is put the first financial barrier between people and their ballot box since we got rid of the poll tax.”
These laws will potentially kick more than 5 million Democratic voters off the roll.
Meanwhile, here in the Reality-Based Community, the REAL danger to democracy is ELECTION FRAUD with the help of electronic voting machines.
The Party of No,” with the help of electronic voting machines flipping Democratic votes to Republican, illegal vote caging tactics employed despite a standing court order, as well as inside men on the Supreme Court, will do anything to maintain power for the top 1% – including rigging elections.
Jonathan D. Simon, Executive Director of Election Defense Fund wrote,
“Study after study–from Princeton, to Johns Hopkins, to NYU’s Brennan Center, to the California Secretary of State’s office, to the GAO itself (see http://tinyurl.com/3hz7xj2 ) –conclude that this counting process is obscenely vulnerable to insider manipulation and outsider hacking. So have many studies examining computerized voting abroad–which is why countries such as Germany, Ireland, and Holland have begun turning back to human counted ballots. There is consensus verging on unanimity among the experts.”
Recently, the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory, run by the Department of Energy, remotely hacked a Diebold electronic voting machine, leaving no trace of their presence behind. So, naturally, Republicans want to ensure the easily-hacked machines are implemented from sea to shining sea.
“Republicans in state legislatures across the country have spent the past year mounting an all-out assault on voting rights, pushing a slewof voter ID and redistricting measures that are widely expected to dilute the power of minority and low-income voters in next November’s elections. Now that effort has come to Capitol Hill, where the House* will vote Thursday on a GOP-backed bill to eviscerate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—the last line of defense against fraud and tampering in electronic voting systems around the country.
[UPDATE: The bill passed 235-190 on a mostly party-line vote.]“
6) Republican War on Women
Being entirely fear based and wedded to the cult of hyper-masculinity, Republicans are the champions of misogynist policies that seek to control women.
Their hatred of women this year took the form of a GOP House bill aimed at limiting federal funding for abortions by differentiating ”forcible rape” from the standard, run of the mill, rape… suggesting that abortions for other kinds of rape would not be covered, Thus sticking their “big government” noses, once again, into a woman’s private decisions between herself and her doctor.
7) Republican War the LGBT Community
Besides their regular, ongoing scapegoating of the LGBT community and attempts to use the power of “big government” to prevent two consenting adults from creating a legal contract, Republicans are promising to repeal the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and shove gay service members back into the closet, where they will no doubt meet a plethora of self-loathing Republican closet cases who inherently lack the courage it takes to live an authentic life.
8) Republican Assault on PBS and NPR
Republicans threatened to shut down the government if NPR and PBS weren’t defunded.
CONservative activists then went on the attack to smear NPR by releasing a video purporting to show NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller calling tea partyers “seriously racist.” (which they are). But OH the fake outrage of it all! In the subsequent feigned outrage, Schiller left NPR and the organization’s president, Vivian Schiller (no relation) resigned. Par for the course, though. Once the full video was released, it was plain that CONS had again selectively edited it to suit their agenda.
9) Republican War on the Post Office
Part of this war on middle-class workers has long included the United States Post Office. It is no secret that the Post Office has suffered as technology has brought newer, quicker ways to send and recieve information. That has caused many Republicans to salivate at finally being able to dismantle a successful government institution full of middle-class workers.
But just like their eternal quest to starve the beast a big part of the problems that have beset the Post Office can be traced to one source. You see, one long standing Republican trick has been to get into power, run something into the ground and then whine incessantly about how it doesn’t work. As we pointed out here at Hillbilly Report a while back, this is just what they did to the Post Office:
Why is the Post Office suffering so much and losing so much money?? The root can be found in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president.
Now, think about this for a minute. Republicans do not want to pass any healthcare reforms which would help those who cannot afford insurance. They do not want to pass any new regulations that require employers to offer their employees health coverage or pay a penalty. They do not want to do anything that requires corporate America to do anything but what they want to do which is to fleece the American worker, ship our jobs overseas and pocket huge profits all while crashing our economy.
With that in mind, what did the Republicans do in 2006?? Despite the fact that they will not even require private corporations making huge profits to fund part of their employees healthcare in 2006 they forced to Post Office to PRE-FUND the healthcare of their workers who have not even retired yet. No other corporation or organization is forced to do this.
10) Republican War on Mother Earth
Under the phony banner of “job creation,” Republicans are using the economic crisis to attack environmental protections that safeguarded our air and water more than 100 years. In the Republican vision of the world, Mother Earth is just another host from which to suck profit. It seems Republicans and their benefactors can’t conduct business if they actually have to give a shit about the environment we share and can’t leave filth in their wake like some sociopathic child, leaving the land they pretend to love as filth and disease riddled as a sewer.
In just the year since the GOP took control of the House, there have been at least 159 votes held against environmental protections — including 83 targeting the Environmental Protection Agency — on the House floor alone, according to a list compiled by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Republicans have made an assault on all environmental issues,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee. “This is, without doubt, the most anti-environmental Congress in history.”
Some of the efforts are broad-based, like the TRAIN Act, which would install overseers for the EPA and require cost considerations to trump health and science concerns for new rules.
Republicans want to take us back to the world before the EPA, where a factory could spew black clouds of toxic pollution into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into your local stream. So what if the surrounding communities suffer from the repercussions of sickness and disease. The rich bankster owners don’t live in THOSE communities – only the expendable human natural resources that were born to be exploited.
Remember the Cuyahoga river fire of 1969? When Republicans long for the “good old days” before environmental regulations, they want to take us back to a world where rivers are so polluted they periodically catch fire. Never mind the fact that environmental regulations actually CREATE jobs.
“The phrase “Job killing regulations” has been a consistent battle cry for GOPCongressmembers in their war against workplace safety and environmental protections. True to form, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) echoed this sentiment on Monday with his reference to “job-destroying regulations” in a memo about theRepublican plan to further gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
While this talking point is used to berate a lot of different government protections, from checks and balances applied to Wall Street, to product safety laws, to measures safeguarding consumers from dangerous chemicals in food and pharmaceuticals, and so forth.
But most often, the perjorative “job-killing regulations” talking point is used to describe the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) And it has resonated extremely well among an American public that is currently suffering from a severe lack of jobs. As of July 2011, we have an unemployment rate of 9.1%, resulting in almost 14 million Americans looking, but unable to find, a job. For a populace that desperately wants to work but is unable to do so, scapegoating “regulations” has been a very powerful and effective narrative.
There is no empirical data to back up their claims, but there is a wealth of information available showing that regulations – all regulations – actually promote job growth and put Americans back to work. A new report by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) delivers the latest blow to this popular talking point, demonstrating a direct correlation between environmental regulations and job growth. NESCAUM looked at the Northeast and found that by enacting stricter fuel economy standards and pursuing cleaner forms of energy, more Americans would be put back to work.”
11) Republicans Fight Consumer Financial Protection
There is only one reason a Republican seeks public office – to enrich him/herself by turning the government into an appendage to the affairs of billionaires. That’s not just a pejorative statement. Even the chairman of the House banking committee, Spencer Baucus, publically admitted that he believed the role of Congress and federal regulators is to “serve” financial institutions.
Republicans are now pulling out all their obstructionist stops to hobble the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau… an agency whose sole purpose is to protect middle class consumers from the abuses and exploitations of banksters. So, clearly, Republicans have been ordered by their puppeteers to do what they can to make sure the agency has no teeth; illustrating once again that the reason Republicans get out of bed in the morning is to throw the 99% into the rapacious jaws of Wall Street banksters.
Senator Bernie Sanders had it right when he said, “If it comes to whether or not banks can charge you 25 or 30 percent interest on your credit card or if you are going to have somebody in your corner fighting against usury, well, I guess the Republicans are pretty clear which side they are on.” *
12) Republicans Intransigent about Taxes on the Wealthy but Indifferent to Taxes on the Working Class
Republicans have pledged their allegiance to millionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist, promising to never raise taxes – on the rich.
But Norquist himself assured the filthy Repugs that raising taxes on the working class didn’t actually count as a tax increase.
The aim is simple. Keep the income disparity high, and the rich free access to make “campaign contributions” (what other countries call “bribes”) and the top 1% can maintain their power to corrupt government.
13) Republican War on the Poor
One might think Republicans love the poor, because their policies create so many of them… but the only thing Republicans “love” is a convenient scapegoat on which to hang the blame for their “failures.”
With the aim of deflecting blame for the financial crisis their greed-centered, trickle-down policies created, Republicans are actually trying to pin the blame for the worldwide financial collapse on the poor – spreading the big lie that innocent, suffering banksters were forced by the big, bad government to give poor people mortgages they couldn’t afford.
Though this lie has been exposed again and again, Republicans continue to repeat it, knowing many low-information “average joes” are bound to believe it. After all, “failure” only depends on which side of the gated community you’re standing on.
This bald-faced untruth, not only, enables Republicans to continue pushing their failed policies on a nation left suffering in their wake, but does great harm to the country by crippling efforts to effectively respond to the destruction of the working class.
14) Republican Obstruction
With the aim making the plight of the working class as miserable as possible as a strategy to defeat President Obama, Republicans have obstructed every single attempt at relief for the working class.
They are so wedded to the same policies that have tanked the economy twice in a century that economists like Nouriel Roubini have outright speculated that Republicans are actively trying to tank the economy for political gain.
Republicans have set the record for filibusters. What was historically an aberration became standard operating procedure for Repugs these last 2 years- a tactic to slow any attempt at recovery down, creating more misery for the people so they would blame it on the majority party.
14) Republicans Waste America’s Time
It’s time to face it. The destruction of the working class was always the point. Which is why the Republican answer to the problems caused by their love of deregulation will always be “more deregulation” just like their answer to the problems caused by unfunded tax-cuts for the wealthy will always be “more unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy.”
The real Republican mission is to destroy the uppity middle class so the “right” people rule, run everything and have all the wealth.
So, rather than have a “laser focus on jobs,” Republicans have spent 2011 wasting America’s time on ideological pursuits meant to rally their base – like bills invading women’s privacy and re-affirming “In God We Trust” as the official national motto.
So here we are again. Locked in the age-old struggle. The dream of America was that We The People ruled ourselves, rather than an inter-generational aristocracy akin to the one we fought a revolution to escape. Repugs (& DINOS) have been putting that oppressive system back together piece by piece since America swallowed the Reaganomics Voodoo we are now dying from. This has always been the goal of Republican policies – to bring us back to the very system of government our founders fought a revolution to escape – namely, one where the rich own and run everything and everyone else knows their “place.”
This is the world we live in now. Though Democrats are “kinder” and “gentler,” they’re still weak-kneed enablers caught in the same corrupt system. At this point, the Occupy movement raising the consciousness of the people may be our only hope to restore the working class to it’s post-New Deal economic freedom and vibrancy.
Happy New Year!