Monthly Archives: February 2013

Republican Idol: Europe

Relief map of Europe and surrounding regions

Relief map of Europe and surrounding regions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t let them kid you, Republican’s think that Europe is spot on when it comes to government spending in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Various European nations have responded to the rising debt caused by the crisis by implementing the sort of austerity measures that the Tea Party thinks will save America.

Last week tens of thousands of Spaniards marched in the street over their countries’ latest round of austerity measures. They aren’t thrilled with 26% unemployment. Britain’s David Cameron has implemented an austerity program there. It hasn’t done much to reduce their debt, but it did manage to inspire Moody’s to downgrade Britain’s debt–making it more expensive for them to service their debt.

Ever since the Tea Party took over the GOP, facts and reality haven’t seemed to matter much to their rhetoric or their policies. They have been pining to put the U.S. government on an austerity plan, just like Europe. They may not be happy that one of the first fruits of their labor has been the release of detained immigrants, but that didn’t stop them from deciding to push to make these upcoming cuts permanent for an entire year.

The reality is that this sequester and other austerity measures don’t make any sense while recovering from one of the worst economic downturns in our history. The CBO estimates that our gross domestic product will grow by 1.4 percent this year, rather than the 2.0 growth we’d see without the sequester cuts. The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that we will lose 1 million jobs in 2013 and 2014 because of the sequester. A former Republican from the Bipartisan Policy Center says its possible that the sequester won’t  even achieve any savings in government outlays.

The reality is that our present course has delivered slow but steady growth. Smart money knows things are going pretty well. That’s why the stock market is flirting with its all-time high. We will eventually reduce our deficit through economic growth, just as we did in the 1990’s, unless the Republicans insist on remaking the U.S. in the image of Europe.

Surprise! Surprise! Chuck Hagel Gets Confirmed By The Senate

The Republicans would like you to believe that Obama’s nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary was so spectacularly bad that it required them to do something unprecedented to stop it. Never before has the Senate filibustered against a Secretary of Defense nominee.

The odd thing was that if you listened to people like my Senator Lindsey Graham, it seemed that this filibuster was necessary to try to force the President to come clean about the attack on Benghazi. If you thought Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, then Hagel had even less.

Another fierce opponent, John McCain explained the opposition this way:

There’s a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and said he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people — people don’t forget that. You can disagree but if you’re disagreeable, then people don’t forget that.

Hagel was being nominated as Secretary of Defense of the United States not some post within the Republican Party, so putting his loyalty to the United States above his party loyalty should be considered a good thing.

McCain and others are on the record as admitting that they knew that Hagel would eventually be confirmed despite their filibuster. [In fact most of them are on the record a week or so ago saying that they wouldn’t filibuster him, but that’s another story!] So their filibuster was never about influencing who would be the next Secretary of Defense. They knew he would be confirmed. Their filibuster did nothing more than block the Senate from confirming him.

This delay was political theater, pure and simple. It served no constructive purpose from the perspective of what’s good for America. The Republicans used it to try to keep alive their narrative that somehow Benghazi represents a huge failure of this administration, and they did it to try to punish a fellow Republican because they thought he had betrayed them.

If the Republicans spent half as much energy towards building up America as they do towards tearing down our President, I wonder where we might be today.

Who’s Interests Are Being Represented?

National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[This is the fifth of a series of blog reposts from my campaign website. This post first appeared on Jun 28, 2012]

One of the central tenets of my campaign is that politics in the U.S. has been corrupted by the need to please special interest groups in order to get elected. Politicians need the money and publicity that such interests offer. One of the reasons I decided to run for office was my determination to offer the voters in Oconee County the opportunity to elect someone whose only interest is representing their interests. I am not pursuing the support of special interest groups.

I read an article this morning that illustrated my point. The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to hold the U.S. Attorney General in contempt of Congress for the first time in the history of this nation. This effort has been a partisan effort. Republicans have been in favor while Democrats have been against this move. Yet, this morning reports are coming in that as many as 31 Democrats may switch sides. The L.A. Times reports:

House vote counters predicted that somewhere between 20 and 31 Democrats would desert their party largely because the influential National Rifle Association threatened to oppose legislators who support the attorney general.

If this article is correct, then these members of the U.S. House will apparently be representing the members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) rather than the voters in their districts. Like most politicians, they have learned that their re-election depends not on how well they represent voters but how well-liked they are by groups such as the NRA.

The only ones who can change this situation are the voters themselves. Voters must demand representation of their interests rather than those of powerful interest groups.