The Freak Show: Republican Puppets

Ever hear of Grover Norquist? Not many people have. Yet he’s the “power behind the scenes” guiding the Republican refusal to compromise on the “budget cuts” vs. “revenue raising” negotiations that have held hostage the raising of the debt ceiling.

Mr. Norquist is the head of the Americans for Tax Reform organization, which is really a group not espousing tax reform, but calling for not raising revenue in any way, whether it is through higher taxes or closing loopholes. He has managed to get all but a handful of the Senate and House Republicans to sign a pledge vowing not to increase any taxes, as well as to oppose “any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by reducing tax rates.”

He cares not that some of these Republicans want to end the tax subsidy for ethanol, which seems to have outgrown its usefulness. Or that some would go along with ending the tax break for small jet owners that makes no sense. Let alone the massive tax break that hedge fund managers get, which enables some individuals to make millions, but because of a loophole are taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate instead of the regular tax rate.

Should any of these politicians not follow through on their pledge, Norquist will help finance a campaign against the offending individual. He lists 41 Senators, 236 House members and 1,263 state legislators as part of the pledge, which gives him plenty of firepower to gain leverage.

But fair is fair. No millionaire should be able to have a lower tax rate than the average person, so the fact that it raises revenue to get rid of a loophole shouldn’t be a reason to not eliminate it. And if a tax cut, such as the Bush tax cuts enacted years ago, were intended to be temporary, why is it so important to extend them? If they were meant to be permanent, they would have made them that way in the first place. This is idiotic on the part of the Republicans, and the fact that they blindly follow this jerk is a blemish on some of the good things they sometimes do.

I am no lover of taxes; in fact, I’m very fiscally conservative. There are many ways to cut the budget, and a lot of waste to trim. But every reasonable analysis shows that to get the deficit under control, we need to deal with both sides of the ledger, by both cutting spending and raising revenue. And the crazy thing is that we can raise revenue without raising taxes, just by cutting loopholes and tax breaks that are given to companies (i.e. the oil companies) that are making billions, and to multi-millionaires.

This hard stance the Republicans have taken against that is ludicrous. And people are starting to realize that, as poll numbers show the public preferring President Obama’s view of the issue better than that of the Republicans. Polls also show that the public is in favor if letting the tax cuts lapse that gave breaks to those making over $250,000 a year, like the President called for.

The sudden conversion of Republicans to deficit cutting hawks is mind-boggling. During the Bush presidency, they voted overwhelmingly to raise the debt ceiling over and over again. Bush lowered taxes, ran two military excursions, ran up huge deficits, and never got a peep out of the Republicans in Congress. Now that a Democrat is in the White House, they are screaming bloody murder. It’s blatant hypocrisy on their part. Even if you are in favor of cuts, which I am, it’s embarrassing to be part of a country that elected these knuckleheads.

As further evidence of their incompetency and hypocrisy, as I write this they are fighting over the raising of the debt ceiling. Not raising it, unfortunately, could cause severe harm to our country, and even the world, because of its economic impact. Having painted themselves into a corner, the Republicans won’t let any revenue be raised, so they have to figure a way out of this mess.

So a plan has been hatched that will let them save face, without giving in on their pledge. The plan would ensure that over $1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years be passed into law. It would also grant President Obama the authority to extend the debt ceiling through the 2012 election season while requiring him to propose, but allowing him to later veto, cuts beyond those initial $1.5 trillion.

The way the plan is set up, the Republicans would be able to claim that they passed a deal without including tax hikes or the dreaded “revenue raisers.” The President will be able to move the debt ceiling debate into 2013. Democrats would have to agree to a deal that didn’t include raising revenues, but they will have protected programs like Social Security and Medicare from cuts proposed by the Republicans.

It’s just another joke. That’s not governing. These guys couldn’t govern their way out of a paper bag. All they want is sound bites that will help them in the next election. They don’t have the guts to actually do anything that might be for the good of the country, if it might cost them a vote or two. They are the ultimate cowards.

If they hadn’t rigged the election process so our choices are limited, and controlled by the party leaders who set the agenda, I’m sure we would have voted these idiots out long ago. But they have it set up so there is really not much chance for independent candidates to get elected. We’re being led down a path that will make us a poorer country in the long run, and until we realize what’s happened to our government, we’re going to be continuing down the path to oblivion.