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Republicans Have Done Nothing to Address the Economy

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During the 2010 mid-term election the Republican party hit Democrats in Washington hard with a rather simple slogan: “Where are the jobs?”  In what would become a historic rebuff of the 111th Congress the American people overwhelmingly bought the Republican party line that if they were allowed to take the reins of the House of Representatives away from the Democrats they would refocus the federal government’s attention away from stimulus bills and Obamacare and instead concentrate on the stagnant economic and the miserably high rate of unemployment in this country.  The strategy worked and the Democratic majority in the House was sent packing last November, while Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was elected the 61st speaker of the House in January of this year.

In the ensuing four month period, how many jobs have the Republican House created? How many pieces of legislation has the House passed in an effort to jumpstart the American economy? How many Republican alternatives to the Democrat’s policy of investing in the American middle class have been proposed?  Unfortunately the answers to those questions are: zero, zero and, zero.

The fact is the Republican House majority has spent more time and energy developing a privatization scheme for Medicare and Medicaid, attacking a woman’s right to chose whether she will have a child and opposing President Obama at every turn, rather than doing anything to address the humdrum economic situation.

The first pronouncement by Speaker Boehner relating to jobs was a rather derisive comment. When asked about the federal job-cutting aspects of his party’s budget proposals he said the government can’t afford to keep so many workers and, “…if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.”  This rather cavalier attitude is diametrically opposite the crisis in employment his party ran and won on last November.  Did the GOP hoodwink the American public?

The other major issue the Republicans used to gain control of the House was health care. Specifically, they brutally attacked the Democrats claim that the legislation they passed, often referred to as Obamacare, would save the country nearly $500 billion in reduced Medicare costs over the next 10 years.  The law was attacked for “cutting Medicare” even though the cuts the Democrats proposed would not have affected Medicare benefits.  The misleading verbal barrage  started 14 months before the midterm elections when Boehner, then the minority leader, said that the Democrats’ “health care bill would cut seniors’ Medicare benefits by $500 billion,” and continued in October of that year when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated, “We need to strengthen Medicare and preserve it for today’s seniors and future generations, not slash it.” Later that year McConnell wrote that, “Cutting Medicare is not what Americans want.”Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), then the minority, jumped into the act with both feet, writing, “The huge cuts in Medicare, massive new entitlements and increasing pressure to stop escalating costs would eventually require the rationing of care.”

So what did our friends on the right do when they got control of the House? They overwhelmingly voted in favor of a plan that would cut deep into Medicare benefits and would eventually turn the program over to the private market in ten years, which would have been a financial windfall for an industry which has backed the GOP with millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

In fact the group Americans for Campaign Reform concluded recently that, “Republicans received 57 percent of total healthcare industry contributions while Democrats received 43 percent of industry contributions from 1990-2008.” They also said the industry has contributed over $800 million to candidates for federal office during that time period. And, during the time period, “Annual contributions from the healthcare industry increased sevenfold from $21.9 million in 1990 to nearly $150 million in 2008.”  Is there any wonder there was so much heated opposition to healthcare reform? Thankfully the GOP plan has been shortstopped by many of the same people who voted them into office last fall.  The Republicans have shown their hand. They are not interested in middle class Americans.

I only hope that the American public will remember this episode and take the advice of a well-known rock group and cry out as loudly as they can at the ballot box in 2012 with the refrain that we “Won’t be fooled again!”

About Ronald W Weathersby

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I’m sure you’re absolutely right Handy. Old Bill just pulled that sentiment out of thin air. I’m absolutely sure it had nothing to do with events of his time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Handy, actually, Bush Sr’s tax cuts led to a recession.

    Bush Sr’s tax hikes – remember his ‘no new taxes’ pledge that he had the courage to back down on? – enabled the growth we saw in the Clinton years. Personally, I do hold Bush Sr. as a decent president (except for his involvement in Irna-Contra), because he had the courage to do what needed to be done even though GOP party doctrine said otherwise.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    You really don’t get my point, do you? Yes, you DID earn your coverage under Tricare (as did I)…and no, Tricare does not cover dental – don’t you think I know that?

    My point was, Andy, is that there is NOTHING WRONG with enabling ALL American citizens to have the coverage that you and I already have IF – repeat, IF – it can be done spending LESS taxpayer dollars than we’re already spending on health care!

    And that’s the reason I posted several links above showing that it CAN be done with spending fewer taxpayer dollars…because it IS being done already by every other first-world democracy on Earth.

    One last thing, Andy – these are YOUR taxpayer dollars I’m talking about. Yours and mine and everyone else’s who pays taxes. And whether you know it or not, if someone doesn’t have health coverage, you wind up paying for it anyway! Why? Because when – not if, but WHEN – they go to the emergency room for this or that and can’t afford the treatment they get anyway, YOU pay for it, at three times the non-emergency price. When they declare bankruptcy because they can’t afford their health care, that hurts all taxpayers in the community – property values fall, etc.

    So it’s a “pay me now or pay me later” kind of thing, Andy. You and I and all taxpayers WILL pay for their health care. The ONLY choice is whether to pay less money for the health care ahead of time, or MORE money when the health problems become too serious to ignore.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Andy –

    concerning using aliases and pseudonyms, it’s not fun watching some jerk who doesn’t like you post your public-domain personal information on a forum – including your address, phone number, mortgage balance, and now – thanks to Google Earth – photos of where you and your family live.

    That happened to me (before Google Earth came about, thank goodness), so that’s why I strongly think it is much wiser to use a pseudonym. It’s said that an intelligent person learns from his mistakes, and a wise person learns from other people’s mistakes. Me, I’m intelligent – which is why I now use a pseudonym – but it’s a lot better to be wise. Learn from my mistake, please.

  • Costello

    Quite the Shakespeare scholar. You must think Bill is pro-murder considering what Lady MacBeth was up to

  • Clavos

    Glenn,

    Your links, all of them, indicate we spend more dollars per patient than other countries; the tables presented are showing total dollars spent; in this country at least they are not all necessarily tax dollars.

    But in any case, some points about what we spend:

    Yes, we spend more than other countries on medicine; for which we get better medicine (even you admit that) than the others — it makes sense it will cost more. A BMW costs more than a VW, and is a better car.

    But, we not only spend more on medicine, we spend more on practically everything: especially the Big Three necessities: Food, clothing, shelter — and again, we get better goods in all three of those than practically all the other countries.

    We spend more on cars, yachts, private aircraft, even wars.

    Why? Because we can; because American workers are among the highest paid in the world when total compensation (including benefits) is measured.

    I know how enamored you are of FACTS (you never write it lower case) is well known by all of us. But, as many of us have said, facts alone — without consideration of the circumstances and mitigating factors surrounding them — are nearly meaningless.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    1 – Whether we spend the money through taxes or out-of-pocket, we still pay the money.

    2 – Yes, we do have the best health care in the world, but only for those who can afford it and have access to it. In other words, Clavos, many people in America have access to great care…but nearly as many people have access to little or NO care.

    You compare it to BMW’s versus VW’s…but a good VW is a heck of a lot better than no car at all. In other words, good medical insurance – as opposed to great – is a heck of a lot better than little or no medical insurance at all.

    3 – If our health care system is so much better here, then why is it that America is the ONLY first-world democracy where people go bankrupt due to health care costs?

    4 – When you say that American workers are among the highest paid in the world after total compensation is accounted for, that, Clavos is a false argument. Why? Because (1) you should compare not to the rest of the world, but only to other first-world democracies; (2) all other first-world democracies provide universal health care, whereas in America health insurance is considered a great benefit if – IF – it is offered by the company…and many – perhaps most – small businesses do not; and (3) what other compensation are you referring to? Retirement? If you haven’t noticed, a lot of companies don’t offer that anymore…

    …and then there’s a little something called Enron that should make you think twice about trusting your money to the oh-so-reliable private sector….

  • Clavos

    …) all other first-world democracies provide universal health care…

    Which, for the most part, as I said before, is inferior to ours. And you’re completely off base with this statement: “but nearly as many people have access to little or NO care.” Because, by law, NO ONE can be turned away from at least one hospital in EVERY city, irrespective of their ability to pay. Illegals take advantage of this FACT on a daily basis. What about 50 million people (according to the administration) lack is health insurance, not access. And even they, if poor enough (and many, if not most, of the uninsured are) can get medical insurance through Medicaid. The real number (of uninsured) is considerably below what you Dems whine about.

    And I stand by my point about the relative pay levels of American workers vis-a-vis the workers actually in first world countries: when full compensation packages are taken into account, the americans are far better off. For proof, just look around you: even people on welfare in this country have cars, TVs, air conditioning — items that are unattainable dreams to the poor of other lands, elven those in the first world.

    .and then there’s a little something called Enron that should make you think twice about trusting your money to the oh-so-reliable private sector…

    Your lack of logic in that bizarre remark is risible. Because of Enron, you dismiss the entire private sector of what was once the richest, most industrious country in the world? I’ll have some of what you’re smoking as soon as I’m through calling my broker…

    our health care system is so much better here, then why is it that America is the ONLY first-world democracy where people go bankrupt due to health care costs?

    More utter illogic. People going bankrupt paying for their medical bills has virtually nothing to do with the quality of the health care.

    One last point, Glenn: all those countries that actually ARE first world (unlike the US, which no longer is) are going broke paying for their medical distribution systems, and are frantically cutting them back!! Read the newspapers, Glenn.

  • Boeke

    We The People spend about $2.5trillion per year for our privatized healthcare system (and we don’t cover everyone), but if we could capture the percapita cost of European systems we would save about $600-$800billion of that per year. That’s the entire budget of the Department of Defense.

    It costs us at least $600billion (and about 40,000 lives) every year to prop up the fiction of a privatized system. Actually, it is just an oligopoly, a collection of monopolies.

    Nobody outside the USA is fooled by the fiction. Nobody wants our system.

    If we nationalized just the insurance system we could achieve Ryans $4trillion savings easily.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    You can’t go bankrupt from medical expenses in England or France or Canada, Clavos. Even someone with insurance in the US can be financially ruined just by getting sick. This is just peachy OK with you?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m sure Mr. Shakespeare, a master of showbiz, wrote that laugh line about lawyers because they were indeed unpopular then. I wasn’t even defending lawyers; they are easy to hold in contempt — but not because of their politics.

    Some conservative boilerplate is quite tedious and off-base. And “it’s all the fault of the trial lawyers, and the Dems enable them” is one of those sad, boring memes.

  • Clavos

    This is just peachy OK with you?

    NOTHING is “just peachy OK” with me, handy.

    The bankruptcy laws in this country are so lenient that I don’t really pay any attention to that whole phenomenon. I personally know people who have been in bankruptcy; it didn’t seem to even slow them down, and seven years later it was all wiped clean.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Clavos – I would be one of those people you know! About 8 years ago now. Never lost my clearance, my house, my truck, never lost anything except a pocket full of maxed out CC’s.! The credit card companies gave me no choice. I was paying my bills on time and always more than the minimums and they started cranking on my interest rates. Worse than a loan shark in the city! I called and asked, why are you raising my interest rates? They said, you’re over extended. I said, you MFer’s over extended me! Then I called a lawyer, paid $750 and spent 15 minutes in court. It was done in a matter of weeks.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    So…bankruptcy is no big deal to you, huh? “It didn’t even slow them down”, you say – which is the same sort of silly argument made against the pro-choice supporters, that bankruptcy – like abortion – is somehow done on a lark! “Let’s all go down and declare bankruptcy, no problem!”

    …) all other first-world democracies provide universal health care…

    Which, for the most part, as I said before, is inferior to ours.

    Which is why we’re what, FORTY-SEVENTH on the list of countries by life expectancy? Having the very best health care is NOT a matter of simply having that really good health care, but a matter of making it available to more than just those who can afford it! Do you not get that?

    And you’re completely off base with this statement: “but nearly as many people have access to little or NO care.” Because, by law, NO ONE can be turned away from at least one hospital in EVERY city, irrespective of their ability to pay. Illegals take advantage of this FACT on a daily basis.

    Of course! That’s why ONE OUT OF SEVEN of all health care claims were DENIED by the top health care insurance companies, right? And when an illegal, say, gets cancer, what does the doctor at the emergency room say? “I’m sorry, but the emergency room doesn’t provide chemotherapy.” Yes, our emergency rooms provide care for everyone (at three times the cost, which is passed to the taxpayer when the patient can’t pay), but they do NOT provide long-term care.

    What about 50 million people (according to the administration) lack is health insurance, not access.

    And those health insurance companies never deny claims, do they? And they never deny coverage, do they? And they never drop coverage after a ‘lifetime cap’, do they? And they never suddenly decide that “we don’t cover that anymore”, do they? YES THEY DO…and we’ve got a president whose own mother had to fight with the insurance company to pay for her treatment while she was dying of cancer!

    And even they, if poor enough (and many, if not most, of the uninsured are) can get medical insurance through Medicaid.

    Ah, so THAT’S the solution! All those who are not in poverty who can’t get health insurance CAN be covered! All they have to do is to become really poor so they can get insurance! Brilliant plan, Clavos!

    The real number (of uninsured) is considerably below what you Dems whine about.

    I’ve heard the number from 50M at the high end to 30M at the LOW end…so let’s pretend that it’s ‘only’ 30 million Americans who lack health insurance! So if it’s ‘only’ 30M, then it’s no big deal and no reason to stress about it, huh?

    And I stand by my point about the relative pay levels of American workers vis-a-vis the workers actually in first world countries: when full compensation packages are taken into account, the americans are far better off. For proof, just look around you: even people on welfare in this country have cars, TVs, air conditioning — items that are unattainable dreams to the poor of other lands, elven those in the first world.

    Ah, the poor in Australia, France, England, Canada, they don’t have cars, TV’s, or air conditioning?????? Can I please have some of what you’re smoking? I say that because my family in THIRD-WORLD Philippines IS quite poor compared to the ‘poor’ in the first world, yet they have all these things!

    If you want to continue that argument, Clavos, I suggest you educate yourself – because other first-world nations DO have much larger safety nets! Tell you what – how about you go to Canada (like I do every now and then) and look to see how many homeless people there are. On my last trip to Vancouver B.C. – the largest city north of the San Francisco metro area – I saw two – TWO – people who appeared to be homeless, and that’s it!

    .and then there’s a little something called Enron that should make you think twice about trusting your money to the oh-so-reliable private sector…

    Your lack of logic in that bizarre remark is risible. Because of Enron, you dismiss the entire private sector of what was once the richest, most industrious country in the world? I’ll have some of what you’re smoking as soon as I’m through calling my broker…

    Why did I point out Enron? How many people have lost their entire savings as part of Social Security? In the seventy years that we’ve had Social Security, ZERO! How many lost their life savings because they trusted Enron? Thousands. And the same thing happens with other corporations, too. It doesn’t happen all the time, no…but the times that it does happen are FAR more often than the ZERO times that it’s happened under Social Security.

    our health care system is so much better here, then why is it that America is the ONLY first-world democracy where people go bankrupt due to health care costs?

    More utter illogic. People going bankrupt paying for their medical bills has virtually nothing to do with the quality of the health care.

    Except that the people are having to choose between paying the rent/mortgage and paying their health insurance. But I guess in your view nobody ever has to face a choice like that, huh?

    One last point, Glenn: all those countries that actually ARE first world (unlike the US, which no longer is) are going broke paying for their medical distribution systems, and are frantically cutting them back!! Read the newspapers, Glenn.

    Yeah, why don’t you talk to STM about how bad it is in Australia? And I suggest YOU read the newspapers – because it was NOT the health care system that drove Greece to economic disaster, but their early retirement system…and France’s troubles – which were NOT nearly so severe as ours – stemmed from the SAME cause. Iceland’s near-bankruptcy stemmed from rampant deregulation of their financial markets. England’s just raised prices on their educational systems.

    And I know all this off the top of my head because I DO pay attention…and because of that, I don’t need to make wrong assumptions that Europe (much less Australia or New Zealand or Japan) is going broke because of their health care system!

    But I’m not going to change your mind…because no matter how much better single-payer is for the American people AND for YOUR business, you will reject it and you will search for any excuse you can to reject it.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Two things Glenn – First, why your friend couldn’t afford to have a baby in this country is beyond me. I have a 6 month old granddaughter, the most beautiful woman in the world btw, who was born on Medicaid…because you know, that keep your kids on your insurance until they’re 26 is working out for my daughters and I so well. One is 24 and the other is 21.

    And B, there IS something wrong with giving people in this country something for nothing. They never appreciate shit they get for nothing. NEVER! Look at the abuse of almost EVERY govt handout there is…

  • Boeke

    The MOST abused government handouts are the ones we give to Private Companies; just look at the abusive bonuses handed out to corrupt and broke bankers and financiers. At least the abuse of poor people may go to pay for food, rent, etc., whereas handouts to the rich go for luxuries and waste.

  • Clavos

    Glenn, your entire #64 might as well have been written in gobbledygook, for all the sense it made.

    “Full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing”

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I’d like someone to do a comparison for me…I know it’s not gonna happen, but I really would like to know the answer to this one.

    I DO NOT get a govt handout. Military retirement is NOT a govt handout. That being said, I drive a 1998 Dodge Dakota and I have NO flatscreen TV’s in my house. I’d like to know how many people living on govt subsistance have a newer model car than I do and how many of them have at least one bigscreen flat panel TV.

    You know why I don’t have any of those things? Because I can’t afford them! I want them! I want them bad! But, unfortunately for me, my wife is a responsible adult and won’t let me have them!!!

    I know all you liberals are gonna piss and moan about this, but I’d really like to see the answer to that question. I bet the numbers are STAGGERING!!!

  • Boeke

    Do your own research.

    What are you? Some kind of deadbeat who expects someone else to do everything for them?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Now that was funny!

  • Clavos

    It was…

  • Cannonshop

    …and Boeke gets the laugh-line.

    There likely aren’t studies on how many people on public assistance own large, flat-screen teevees, or nice cars, or expensive clothing purchased new. Andy’s accusation’s likely one of those non-proveable, possibly even non-testable assertions. Tracking the origin of those goods is also likely to be virtually impossible at any scale that would have meaning in this discussion.

    I have known people who work the system-for a while, in my twenties, I ran with a couple who, just out of the Navy (both of ‘em) were carrying disability ratings equal to 80% of their in-service, at-grade, pay…and not a fucking thing wrong with either of them that would actually keep them out of a real job.

    I’ve called the hotline on neighbours who’ve worked the “Work three months, out for six on L&I” before. But I have also had neighbours who really, truly needed it and were NOT working the system.

    The problem isn’t entirely the system, so much as the fact that it is scaled to a point where it’s subject to abuse by the less-than-ethical types who basically take money and aid away from those that need it…and do not need it themselves.

    Standards and enforcement are pretty much impossible above a certain scale-the more clients in the system, the harder it is to keep track of abuse or potential abuse, and public aid in various forms is a HUGE system (or set of systems).

    Contrarian made an interesting point a few articles ago about the raw federal dollars expended on a state-by-state basis. At the time, I wasn’t prepared (gee, go figure) to respond with anything remotely intelligent.

    His point was that the “Red” states (vote primarily GOP) of the west were among the biggest recipients of federal spending.

    A check of a map shows that most of those areas, also have the largest concentration of Federally Controlled lands-often more land under Federal jurisdiction than state or private. (Particularly notable west of the Mississippi and in the rocky mountain states). Now, I’m not sure how much the BLM and Forest Service pull down from the federal budget on a yearly basis, but it’s probably not much of a hitch on the National budget…but…

    I have this idea, someone mentioned tongue-in-cheek the idea of witdrawing federal spending from those areas that vote primarily GOP, and raising taxes in areas that vote primarily Democrat-thus, policy applying to those places that (through their vote) have indicated their preference.

    Not knowing the law on this, it seems reasonable to me that raising taxes in New York, California and Illinois while eliminating Federal management of lands in the West (or just limiting it to a fixed percentage and letting/making the locals take responsiblity for those lands) might be a point where some serious, actual compromise that moves forward on repairing the economy and reducing the debt could come from.

    Kind of a “Oh, you want higher taxes? pay higher taxes! and if you want less government spending on you, well, the government will oblige!”

    Kind of an “everyone wins” scenario, I guess. Probably too idealistic…

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Now come on, I never made any accusations! Sort of…Kind of…

    I simply asked a question!

    I’ll keep my truck. I just put a new transmission it! But I really really wanna flat screen. Just a 37″! That way I don’t have to replace the entertainment center too!

    Anyone care to redistribute a little wealth my way???

    (crickets chirping)

    Yeah, that’s what I thought…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    It wasn’t that she couldn’t afford to have a baby – she couldn’t get the surgery she needed to have the baby. Do you see the difference?

    That, and with her husband being a cop and she a nurse, they made too much money to be on Medicaid, but their insurance would not pay for her surgery and she couldn’t afford it out-of-pocket.

  • Cannonshop

    #74 wait…her husband’s a cop, and she’s a nurse…obviously one or the other of ‘em belong to a union that can’t negotiate its way out of a paper bag, or doesn’t represent their membership adequately-possibly from spending all those dues on campaigns in other states…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    To satisfy your curiosity, look at this list so you can see the list of states by federal taxes paid versus federal taxes received…

    …and you will see that YES, generally speaking, red states DO receive more in federal funding than they pay out in taxes, and blue states DO pay out more federal taxes than they receive in federal funding.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Glenn, your entire #64 might as well have been written in gobbledygook, for all the sense it made.

    I guess your reply is what I can expect when you see that your reasoning cannot stand.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    But I really really wanna flat screen. Just a 37″!

    We got ours for a song when Circuit City went to the wall. Consumer Reports top rated, too.

    Who says a sucky economy is bad? :-)

  • Clavos

    I guess your reply is what I can expect when you see that your reasoning cannot stand.

    Sure, Glenn, whatever floats your carrier, swabbie.

  • Clavos

    Circuit City went to the wall long before the economy went south.

    Idiots running it…