Mitt Romney chose his VP running mate today. He picked Darth Vader (Paul Ryan-R-Wis.). I was hoping he wouldn’t go there. Paul Ryan has a prodigious intelligence but so did Darth Vader. After all Darth Vader created the Death Star (with flaw). Mr. Ryan is also to the right of, well, everyone. This backs up once again what Mitt Romney owes to the extremists in the Republican Party. Romney is General “what’s his name”, the guy who does the bidding of Darth Vader. He is abandoned to die in the implosion of the Death Star because he is not a warrior. Mitt Romney should be careful, very careful or he will find himself on the Dark Side of the Force.
Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are quite extreme. He believes our government can no longer afford safety net programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare, Food stamps. He would reform or gradually discontinue such programs. The problem is that the American government belongs to the American people. We chose to spend some of our money on ourselves. We support taking care of the vulnerable members of our society. We can accept reform but we do not expect that every solution to safety net issues will lead to some form of privatization. We do not all have endless (or indeed, any) faith in the altruistic impulses of private businesses. We know they have to tend their bottom line. While this may make such programs profitable and disinclined to fail, we do not expect private companies to adopt any policies, however humane, that do not lead to profit. Any solution that asks us to look to the same businesses that just fled America in droves, or even in the ones that have stayed in America because their customer base is here, is asking us to have very short memories indeed.
We will have to reform our safety net if we cannot afford it. Sending our nation’s budget into bankruptcy is not a goal of any American. However, we need solutions that involve public/private partnerships. We need oversight of business. Protecting vulnerable people in our society is not a free market concern. The programs Americans devise to help themselves through troubled times and through what we hope is a productive and comfortable retirement will not respond well to the “do they boost the bottom line?” test. Remember Paul Ryan/Darth Vader is the man who wanted to hand seniors a government voucher and send them off to private insurance companies. With no public oversight we can expect to lose things like coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and no lifetime cap on coverage.
Mitt Romney shows he is in thrall to the far right. The Tea Party will rule. We can expect punishing budget cuts. We can, in short, expect this team of Mitt and Darth to treat our government as if it is theirs, not ours. We can expect them to behave as if we are the hapless children who have no idea what is good for us and they will be the intelligentsia/patriarchy who step in to set our limits. The economy might recover from being treated in this fashion, but will our Democracy?
This article in the link that follows does a good job of summing up Ryan’s Medicare stance, which thankfully is not as radical as it once was.
It appears that Robert Pozen’s suggestions for changes to the tax code are not as bipartisan as he would like to believe (see my post from Friday, July 13, 2012). According to an article on Newsmax.com from July 11, 2012 by Jim Meyers and John Bachman the Republicans now favor the Ryan Tax Plan which is every bit as harsh and minimalist as Mr. Ryan’s character seems to be.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling talked to Newsmax and what he said is reported in an article called Hensarling to Newsmax: Obamacare Repeal the ‘Will of the People’. For the most part he repeated all the usual arguments against the Affordable Health Act, however, near the end of the article he sums up the current Republican position on the tax code.
“On tax reform, he tells Newsmax: ‘Ultimately Republicans want to pass a fair, flatter, simpler, more competitive tax code. We put it into our budget, a two-tiered flat tax system at 10 and 25 percent, bringing down the corporate rate. We have the single highest corporate tax rate in the world, which helps shift jobs overseas and makes us uncompetitive.
We want to clear out all the loopholes, all the exclusions, broaden the base and lower the rates. “
I would say that this represents an increase in taxes for many middle class Americans and even low-income Americans since I assume things like the Earned Income Tax Credit would disappear and deductions for mortgages and educational costs and every loophole or exclusion, not just the ones that give money back to people who don’t need it. What will happen to Social Security income? Will we pay taxes on the whole thing? Will the formula that allows us to count about half of our Social Security income as taxable disappear? This plan looks like the middle class and lower income Americans will have a greater rise in their taxes than that experienced by higher income Americans. Will wealthy Americans still be able to move money to non-taxable off-shore accounts? What will happen to special interest provisions like the one for NASCAR or the tackle-box industry or Eskimo whaling captains?
Once again, Republicans are the party that protects millionaires and corporations, sets them up as better than other Americans because they have the financial wherewithal to keep the nation’s economy afloat. It ignores the fact that these fortunate people (after all, corporations are people) are in the mood to hold on to their wealth rather than invest it in an America that is floundering to find its footing in a transitional global economy. (Or are they waiting for the other shoe to drop?) Yikes!
Here they are. Meet our new Forefathers, Thomas Cantor, James Ryan, Ben Boehner, and George McConnell. I do think these guys believe they are channeling our Forefathers. They are so unyielding and so sure they are right. Any one of us could have predicted how they would react to yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision. Of course the election is adding drama to their extreme reactions, but that does not explain everything. The Affordable Care Act is not that different as health plans go. It does not get rid of the private sector. Everything stays essentially the same except more people are served. So why so much vituperation. It all has to do, I believe, with the way Obama got the law passed. Seeing the opposition he faced he made a sort of end run around Congress and got his bill. Republicans were so angry they wanted to spit and they have not been able to put their anger aside. They have been “poor sports”. They have been worse than that; they have been vengeful. They just found Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General in Contempt of Congress, a thing which has never happened before. They are out of control. They are so angry they can’t think straight. They need to go sit on the bench for a while until they get a civil bone in their bodies. What Congress needs is a really good Coach.
The GOP symbol is the elephant. Elephants are wonderful critters, but are probably on the edge of extinction in the wild because they need so much human-free territory. The Democratic symbol on the other hand is the donkey, a wily little creature that can survive in the Grand Canyon, can climb mountains, can carry burdens, can be tough and adapt to our crowded future. Which one promises to be around in the long run and which will be visiting in a wildlife preserve?
Evangelical Christians seem to have an effect on our national dialogue that is out of proportion with their actual numbers. These days we are told almost every day about the agenda the Evangelicals have in store for Americans when their candidate is elected. The odds are greater than ever that this will eventually happen because, it seems, in order to be a Republican these days, you must pass muster with the Evangelical Christians. I am a Christian, although with a sort of “universalist” bent, but I have difficulty with the issues the Evangelicals have on their agenda. They want to use Congress to impose morality through the rule of law. They have a certain arrogance that is at odds with the humility that Christians usually embrace. Their dialogue suggests that they are the self-appointed quintessential American Patriots and that all of the rest of us are not. They imply or declare outright that non-Evangelicals are ruining America. They speak as if they have a direct line to the forefathers and to God, that they are the moral high ground, and that they intend to pull America “up” to their level of Fundamentalist behavior as dictated in the Bible.
Yet our forefathers did not choose to found a Theocracy, in fact, they deliberately argued for the separation of the church and the state. Many had been persecuted for their religious beliefs in the countries they fled. We object to Muslim Fundamentalists because many of the ways they interpret their religion are incompatible with the human rights that Democracy believes in and protects. Christian Fundamentalism, if it has its way with our laws, will interfere with human rights in many of the same ways as Muslim Fundamentalism. Government that is moderate allows for the greatest respect for human rights and the greatest freedom for human endeavor. Government should always strive to stay away from extremes.
In fact, this very insistence on an Evangelical Christian “takeover” of America is one of my greatest problems with the most recent incarnation of the Republican Party (although, as you probably already know, it is not my only problem with the GOP). I also reject their assessment of how to stimulate the economy and I reject their insistence that laziness and poverty are caused by reliance on social programs. Republicans cannot really speak to these matters because their current position as the party of the affluent represents a conflict of interest when it comes to decisions about the economy.
I do tend to “shake in my boots” whenever I contemplate an Evangelical Christian takeover of our American government. I hope there are lots of other Americans who feel the same way.