Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

Former GOP Capitol Hill staffer Mike Lofgren has written the must-read article of the weekend. In it, he explains why he finally had to end his Capitol Hill career as he watched, as he puts it, "the crackpot outliers of two decades ago" become "the vital center of the Republican Party today".

In this piece, Lofgren also does not spare the media nor Democrats (offering a thoughtful critique that fans of George Lakoff will immediately recognize).

But the thrust of the piece is about how the Republican Party in Congress has moved so far to the right that we must take notice.

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

Lofgren explains where this may be headed. It's not just Obama's presidency, the economy, or jobs, or Social Security and Medicare that are on the line: the only thing that matters is that Republicans win. At all costs. The ends justify any means. Even if it leads to the nation being damaged for the long-term. As Lofgren writes:

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency – a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.

And that prospect should get all of our attention. This is a must-read piece. The question now is: what do we do to make sure this isn't our nation's future?

Tea Party's Mission Accomplished At Expense of Jobs

Remember what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said was his top priority in October 2010?

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

Now take a look at this chart posted by Jed Lewison at Daily Kos showing how job creation has slowed while Republicans have threatened government shutdowns and national debt defaults–the latter, of course, being something that used to be a routine legislative act and not cause for a worldwide economic panic.

Interesting how all those shutdowns and debt threats have happened while the economy has slowed. A very interesting coincidence, eh?

All the Republicans appear to need is a banner. I'm surprised by their subtlety so far.

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes

Here's a great an informative article from David Cay Johnston explaining why some "media-perpetuated tax myths" are wrong. These facts include:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes.
  2. The wealthiest Americans don't carry the burden.
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all.
  5. And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income.
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same—less taxes.
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs.
  8. Republicans like taxes too.
  9. Other countries do it better.

Johnston wonders when these facts will lead us to realize the grand GOP supply-side economics experiment has failed.

Rick Perry's False Texas Miracle

Invictus at the Big Picture does an outstanding job highlighting what is really going on in Texas, noting how badly that state is performing compared to the rest of the nation in a dozen metrics. Some of the lowlights:

  • 43rd in senior poverty
  • 50th in number of people 25 and older with a high school diploma or equivalent
  • 50th in property crime per 100,000 population
  • 49th in prevalence of household-level food insecurity
  • 48th in teen birth rate

Yes, there's more. Do we really want Rick Perry to do to the rest of the nation what he has done in Texas? For that matter, we should be wondering why certain GOP members of the State Legislature want to bring those policies to the Golden State.

On Debt Ceiling, Ronald Reagan Too Liberal for Today's Republicans

Here's another example showing that Ronald Reagan would be too liberal for today's Republican Party: he didn't think fooling around with a national debt default was responsible.

On November 16, 1983, President Reagan sent a letter to the Senate (link here to pdf) in which he warned:

The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. Indeed.

That wasn't the only time President Reagan issued such a warning. On September 26, 1987, Reagan made a similar argument in his weekly national radio address:

Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility — two things that set us apart from much of the world.

That's also pretty clear. And could be said, word for word, today.

Rachel Maddow did an excellent segment on this subject. It's well worth your time to watch.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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