On Infrastructure: Trumpspeak is Cheap … and Empty

EPI’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair find that, in addition to “enormous cuts to public investment already embedded in their overall budget plan,” Trump’s budget funds only $200 billion of the $1 trillion he pledged for new infrastructure—leaving state taxpayers and infrastructure users to pick up 80% of the tab. Trump’s infrastructure plans are empty promises and they’re not backed by money.

“Trump’s plan is merely obfuscation and magical thinking.”

Read the full article … HERE.

The Obama Health Care Legacy: More Coverage and Less Spending

—by Harry Stein

ImageOn March 24, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, published data that surprised even the staunchest advocates for health care reform: New estimates show that total federal spending in fiscal year 2016 for major health care programs will be lower than was projected back in January 2009. Why is this shocking? The January 2009 projections did not include the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, which was not signed into law until March 2010. This means that federal health programs are covering more people while spending less money.

Though the ACA coverage expansion added new costs, total spending for federal health programs is still less than what the CBO projected in January 2009 because of huge savings from Medicare. In fact, the CBO’s projections for FY 2016 Medicare spending have fallen $107 billion since January 2009. A portion of the Medicare savings can be unambiguously attributed to the ACA.

Read more about how the ACA expanded coverage while saving money at the Center for American Progress.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

The Stakes in THIS Election Could NOT be Higher!

 

The Federal budget deficit may be down, but because of all the various deficits, the debt has continued to rise under President Obama but at a much lesser rate. Evidence continues to show that the Great Recession, President Bush’s tax cuts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain most of the deficits that have occurred on Obama’s watch.  However, Republicans continue to blame President Obama for ALL our budgetary woes, figuring if they say that enough folks will begin to believe that and once again, put them back in the driver’s seat.

AT ISSUE

On April 10, 2014, the House passed budget resolution HConRes96 for fiscal year 2015 [Vote 177: 219(R) – 205 (12R + 193D)].  That resolution has not yet been taken up in the Senate as a budget already covering fiscal year 2015 was authorized within the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in December 2013.

HConRes96 was introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Titled “The Path to Prosperity,” this $3.7T budget blueprint outlines a House Republican wet dream for spending and tax priorities which they believe will produce a balanced budget by 2024. Overall, Ryan’s plan would cut roughly $5.1 trillion from federal spending over the next decade, with nearly $3 trillion coming from repealing the health care law, voucherizing Medicare and block-granting Medicaid along with a few other safety net programs.

HConRes96 incorporates Republican ideology with respect to spending and tax reform, imposing significant reductions to safety net programs that will affect more than just seniors.  The Republican’s tax reform act would have only two tax brackets for individuals at 10% and 25%, with the corporate tax rate at 25%. What’s unclear is whether any corporate loopholes were closed and whether even more corporations will have a net-zero effective tax rate as a result of the reduction in the corporate tax rate. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) claims the reform provisions would allow 95% of taxpayers to avoid itemizing, and instead claim a larger standard deduction. Really?  With this plan in place, taxpayers would no longer be able to claim deductions for state and local income taxes, the maximum allowable deduction for mortgage interest deductions would be lowered to $500,000 over 4 phases, and charitable deductions would be subject to a 2% of “adjusted gross income” floor for taxpayers who might attempt to claim such deductions.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FY2015 HOUSE BUDGET RESOLUTION

Total
Spending
Discretionary Spending
(Base Outlays)
Projected
Deficit
FY 2015 House Bgt Resolution   $3.7T $1.014T $380B
Current Policy (FY 2015) $3.8T $1.027T $485B

Budgets are a statement of priorities and clearly, Republican priorities are not in helping Americans or in maintaining our nation’s infrastructure.  Take a look:

  • The 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) set limits or “caps” on annual discretionary funding through 2021, imposing separate caps for defense and non-defense funding. In addition, the BCA mandated automatic further reductions — called “sequestration” — after Congress failed to adopt a more comprehensive deficit-reduction plan by January 2012.  HConRes96 abides by the overall spending limits established in the BCA for FY 2015, but not in its “equal-part split provision” between military and non-military spending. Accordingly, their imposed austerity formula would reduce the discretionary budget to $310B below sequester levels through 2024.
    • Results in a net $791B DECREASE for non-defense budgets (infrastructure, education, transportation, etc.)
    • Results in a net $483B INCREASE in defense budgets (war, weapons, etc.)
    • Reduces overall discretionary spending by $5.1 trillion over ten years
  • Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which would eliminate provisions for the Health Insurance Marketplace, reopen the Medicare donut hole, remove provisions that allow children to remain on their parent’s policy until age 26, and allow the Insurance companies to return to their onerous practice of denying coverage claiming “pre-existing” conditions as well as not raking in excessive profits by premium overcharges (just to name a few key provisions).
  • Eliminates the Corporation for National and Community Service [It’s core programs — Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund, would thus, be eliminated.]
  • Makes use of “dynamic scoring” (a time intensive process) for the first time—the macroeconomic effects of which are highly uncertain since just some (not all) of the channels through which proposed policies would affect the economy were considered.
  • Assumes an additional $175 billion in deficit reduction from a “fiscal dividend”

Sequestration
The HConRes96 budget plan matches the total FY 2015 discretionary spending cap established in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which set separate caps for defense and non-defense discretionary spending. For fiscal years 2016-2024, the plan reduces total discretionary spending caps $310B below the sequester levels, entirely derived from cuts to non-defense programs. Additionally, the plan repeats a maneuver seen in previous budgets to shift $483 billion of sequester cuts from defense items to non-defense ones, thereby restoring defense budgets to pre-sequester levels. Non-defense discretionary spending would remain $1.15 trillion below pre-sequester levels.

Taxes
HConRes96 calls for comprehensive tax reform to simplify the tax code and thus lower rates for individuals and businesses. Basically, they intend to reduce revenues remitted to the government anticipating that growth will be spurred on.  That premise hasn’t worked since it was introduced by St. Reagan as a sure-fire method to fix all our nation’s ills, but no matter, they plan to

  • Replace the current individual income tax structure with two rates: 10% and 25%,
  • Reduce the corporate tax rate to 25% (no mention of closing tax loopholes), and
  • Repeal the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which was originally designed to keep wealthy taxpayers from using loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

Entitlement / Mandatory Spending Reform
HConRes96 calls for a number of changes to entitlement programs that predominantly serve low-income populations and seniors.

Medicaid

HConRes96, if enacted would convert the Medicaid program into a “block grant program.”  But that Medicaid expansion that provided millions with access to healthcare — that would be rolled back and not funded via their fixed-value block grant program.  Republicans claim much of Medicaid spending is wrought with waste and fraud because the federal bureaucracy can’t provide adequate oversight.  Thus they believe that by “block granting” funds to each state, it would give them more flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs to “empower recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payroll.”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP (food stamps)

HConRes96, if enacted would convert the SNAP program into a “block grant program” as well.  Once again, Republicans believe SNAP suffers from a flawed structure that promotes fraud and abuse.  Thus, they believe that if States receive more money if they enroll more
people in the program—so their incentive is to get people onto the rolls.  To remedy that perceived problem, this budget would require that eligibility be indexed to inflation, that time limits be imposed on eligibility and that eligibility must be conditioned on work requirements (no exception is noted in Rep. Ryan’s Path to Prosperity explanation for HConRes96 as to those who may be physically disabled and incapable of “working”).

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

HConRes96 rescinds any authority the administration thinks it has to provide for waivers of the work requirement of the TANF program. It assumes that the Republican majority under President Clinton were correct in requiring robust work requirements for the TANF program—which  they believe led to the largest sustained reduction in child poverty since the onset of the “Great Society.” Again, NO exceptions are noted with respect to those individuals who may be physically disabled and incapable of “robust work requirements.”

Medicare

For all the Republican disdain regarding the Affordable Care Act Health Care Exchanges, their proposal as to how Seniors should access health care would be through “Medicare Exchanges.”  Currently, administrative costs are low as there is no “profit motive” incorporated into the costs to serve our senior population.  But should the Republicans prove successful in turning over Medicare to the private sector insurance companies, the cost to serve will rise, some seniors will be forced out of the market and die because they can’t afford the premiums, the co-pays and/or the medications, and denial of services will once again become the norm that many will fight and die fighting.

While their proposal won’t affect those currently receiving Medicare, it will establish a 2-tier system, where those born in 1959 or later will be given a choice of private plans competing alongside a traditional fee-for-service option.  Once they make a choice, a voucherized premium support payment would be provided directly to the insurance provider to either pay for or to offset the premium cost of the chosen plan.

Social Security

While Rep. Ryan’s HConRes96 budget doesn’t call for direct privatization of Social Security like his past budget, this budget does call for the Administration and Congress to submit proposals to provide long-term solutions for the solvency of Social Security.

Health Care

HConRes96 would extend the Republican’s YOYO (You’re On Your Own) philosophy by repealing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as part of long-term spending reductions and savings.  They intend to replace that by enacting medical-liability reform.  In other words, by drastically limiting any compensation you might be able to get should some incompetent surgeon ruin the remainder of your life.  And then the ironies of all ironies, they propose to stomp the crap out of State’s rights argument by enacting legislation that allows anybody and everybody to buy any inadequate policy they want across any state line.


The priorities outlined in Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget are not what is valued by the American People at large.  We value education for our children and jobs so we can support those same children.  We believe the income inequity between the uber-rich and the rest of us needs to be addressed and that all of us deserve a fair and equitable wage for our labors. We believe that we should all share in the cost to maintain our nation’s infrastructure regardless of one’s placement on the social ladder or that corporations need to contribute to maintenance of the infrastructure they’ve come to depend upon to bring their goods to market. We do not believe that every response to something perceived by some to affect our “national (corporate) security should be met my military force, but more frequently should be met instead with diplomacy and compromise.  And, yes, we believe that we deserve access to affordable health care at reasonable costs regardless of our ages.

Your vote in this mid-term election is critical.  If Rep. Ryan’s priorities for America don’t represent YOUR priorities for yourself and your family, then you need to make every effort to make it to the polls this election and cast your ballot accordingly.  CD2’s Rep. Mark Amodei has voted lock-step with the GOP on everything they’ve brought to the floor or that they’ve tried to kill in conference committee.  If you don’t agree with the priorities set forth by the GOP leadership, then you need to cast your vote to send Mr. Amodei packing by casting your vote for Kristen Spees instead.

Other Resources:

It’s Time for Voters to Take Out the Senatorial Trash

— by Vickie Rock, Humboldt Dems Secretary and proud Navy Veteran

Today, S1982 came up for a vote in the Senate. S1982 is the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.  S1982 amends federal veterans provisions revising or adding provisions concerning medical services and other benefits provided to veterans and/or their dependents through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the following areas:

  • survivor and dependent matters, including benefits for children of certain veterans born with spina bifida;
  • education matters, including the approval of courses for purposes of the All-Volunteer Force and the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance programs;
  • the expansion and extension of certain health care benefits, including immunizations, chiropractic care, treatment for traumatic brain injury, and wellness promotion;
  • health care administration, including extension of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Professional Scholarship Program, and
  • complementary and alternative medicine;
  • mental health care, including an education program and peer support program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders;
  • dental care eligibility and expansion, including a program of education to promote dental health in veterans;
  • health care related to sexual trauma, including appropriate counseling and treatment and a screening mechanism to detect incidents of domestic abuse;
  • reproductive treatment and services, including fertility counseling as well as adoption assistance for severely wounded veterans;
  • major medical facility leases;
  • veterans’ employment training and related services;
  • veterans’ employment, including within the federal government and as first responders;
  • career transition services;
  • employment and reemployment rights of members of the Armed Forces after active duty service;
  • small business matters, including contracting and subcontracting participation goals with federal departments and agencies;
  • administrative matters, including regional support centers for Veterans Integrated Service Networks;
  • the revision of claims based on military sexual trauma as well as claims for dependency and indemnity compensation;
  • jurisdictional matters, including with respect to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims;
  • the revision of certain rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, including protections with respect to the expiration of professional licenses, a prohibition on the denial of credit or the termination of residential leases due to military service, and the temporary protection of surviving spouses under mortgage foreclosures; and
  • outreach and miscellaneous matters, including: (1) repeal of the provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that reduces the cost-of-living adjustment to the retirement pay of members of the Armed Forces under age 62, and (2) the accounting for discretionary accounts designated for overseas contingency operations/global war on terrorism.

When the bill came up for a vote, we witnessed pure unadulterated partisanship run amok as 41 reprehensible members of the REPUBLIBAN displayed their disdain, not support, for our troops and voted against passage of S1982:

Alexander (R-TN) . Ayotte (R-NH) . Barrasso (R-WY) . Blunt (R-MO) . Boozman (R-AR) . Burr (R-NC) . Chambliss (R-GA) . Coats (R-IN) . Coburn (R-OK) . Cochran (R-MS) . Collins (R-ME) . Corker (R-TN) . Cornyn (R-TX) . Crapo (R-ID) . Cruz (R-TX) . Enzi (R-WY) . Fischer (R-NE) . Flake (R-AZ) . Graham (R-SC) . Grassley (R-IA) . Hatch (R-UT) . Hoeven (R-ND) . Inhofe (R-OK) . Isakson (R-GA) . Johanns (R-NE) . Johnson (R-WI) . Kirk (R-IL) . Lee (R-UT) . McCain (R-AZ) . McConnell (R-KY) . Paul (R-KY) . Portman (R-OH) . Risch (R-ID) . Roberts (R-KS) . Rubio (R-FL) . Scott (R-SC) . Sessions (R-AL) . Shelby (R-AL) . Thune (R-SD) . Toomey (R-PA) . Vitter (R-LA)

It’s one thing to shut down our Government because they don’t want to pay the bills that they authorized and that they had already incurred.  It’s another thing entirely when they send our children to unwarranted wars and then refuse to provide necessary funding to support healthcare for the injuries of war incurred, PTSD, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injuries, et.al.  Our troops should never be thrown out with the trash like these Tartufes did today.  This is an election year.  It’s time for voters across this nation to take out the Senatorial trash.

We’re Not Broke — We’ve Been Robbed

Slashing government spending now is just going to make our nation poorer.

By Richard Kirsch

Richard_Kirsch

With the Friday the 13th December deadline for a federal budget deal, the cries of “we’re broke,” and “we can’t afford to keep spending,” are ringing again. But we’re not broke and acting like we are is making us poorer.

One of the biggest common misunderstandings is that governments are like households, which need to tighten their spending when times are tough. Actually, governments and households work in opposite ways.

Attack of the Budget Slashers, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Governments can and should spend more when times are tough. Government spending makes up for lack of spending by families and businesses, and it helps get the economy moving by getting people back to work, putting money in their pockets, and contracting with businesses.

If we needed a reminder of that, the recent government shutdown gave us one. Journalists reported story after story about how business was down, as federal workers were laid off and national parks closed. The estimates are that even though the shut down only lasted 16 days, it cost the economy $24 billion.

We need government spending and investment to get the entire economy moving forward. When families are back at work with decent wages, government tax revenues will rise and spending on social supports will fall. That’s when government can reduce spending without slowing down the economy.

During the past two years we’ve reduced the deficit by half, close to 2008 levels. That may sound like it’s a good thing, but it’s really the biggest reason the economy is so lackluster for the vast majority of Americans with a near-record-high in unemployment, stagnant wages, and a smaller proportion of Americans working than any time in the past 30 years.

We’ve also cut all the wrong things: spending that puts money in people’s pockets today and investments in our economic future. We’ve cut spending on education, unemployment insurance, environmental protection, and scientific research. Our public investment, which includes annual government programs and spending on roads, bridges, transit, research, and development is actually the lowest it’s been as a share of the economy in 60 years.

What if we’d taken a different course during the recession? How about rather than cutting spending after an initial stimulus, which avoided a second great depression by saving three million jobs, the government had kept at it?

History shows that if we have continued the levels of spending normally done after recessions, we would have spent some $800 billion more than we did, and the overall economy (and not just the stock market) would be back to the same level today that it was before the recession hit.

In short, the argument that the government must live within its means to protect our children’s future is backwards. Averting deficit spending now means starving our children’s present and their future. More parents will have to struggle to get by, fewer good jobs will be created, education will suffer, and today’s college students will stumble into their careers saddled with huge debt loads.

And our infrastructure will keep crumbling and research will dwindle, making it harder for our businesses to compete in the global marketplace.

There are ways we can reduce the deficit without slowing down the economy very much, if at all. That is by looking at the other truth about the cry that “we’re broke.” In fact, we have been robbed.

When Uncle Sam gives big corporations tax breaks to move jobs overseas, we’ve been robbed. When Washington taxes billionaires at a lower rate than their secretaries, we’ve been robbed.

To get the country moving again, Congress needs to reverse direction and increase spending on vital services and investment.

That means reversing the budget cuts on domestic spending already in place and stopping any more sequestration cuts on vital services for our families. And raising taxes on the wealthy and huge corporations, which have been gaming the system at our expense.

Instead of obsessing about the “need” to cut government spending, our leaders should be figuring out how best to stimulate the economy to provide both a better today and future for our children.


Richard Kirsch is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States. He’s also a senior adviser to USAction. USAction.org.  Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org.  Cartoon Credit:  Attack of the Budget Slashers, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

An Endangered Species Up in Arms

The number of students taking humanities courses is plummeting, and financing for liberal arts education is being tea-partied to death.

— by Donald Kaul

Donald Kaul

As many of you already have intuited, I don’t know everything. Nobody does, I suppose. More importantly, I don’t know everything about anything.

I’m what used to be called “a generalist,” someone whose knowledge in any direction is a mile wide and a quarter-inch deep.

Sad to say, we generalists are an endangered species.

Everywhere, the pressure is on young people to specialize. They’re also being urged to concentrate on the so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. Why? These are disciplines that can predictably get you a job upon graduating from college.

A Florida task force last year went so far as to suggest that college courses in the humanities — literature, history, the social sciences, the arts — be made more expensive than STEM courses just to steer students away from them.

Kaul-Humanities-tom.belteThis idea has the humanities people up in arms.

Duke University President Richard Brodhead headed a study group of educators, business leaders, artists, and politicians that recently delivered a report to Congress decrying the attitude that studying the humanities and social sciences is a waste of time.

“This facile negativism forgets that many of the country’s most successful and creative people had exactly this kind of education,” he said.

The report comes at a time not when hordes of students are crowding into “wasteful” humanities classes, but rather when attendance in them is plummeting and financing for liberal arts education is being tea-partied to death.

Our higher education system is forgetting what education is supposed to do in the first place.

I entered college as an engineering student — a mistake on the order of Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. I was lucky though. I made a last-minute escape to the English department where I was not only allowed to read novels for fun but also find out about things I was actually interested in — history, psychology, architecture, and the arts.

I hasten to add that I had no idea what I was going to do with this information. Neither did my father, a tool and die maker who wanted me to join one of the more practical professions — preferably dentistry. He wanted me to make a living without being in danger of killing someone.

That didn’t appeal to me either. Like many students (particularly English majors) of the 1950s, I wasn’t going to school merely to learn a trade. I was out to become an educated person — well-read, witty, sophisticated — like someone in a Noel Coward play.

Unfortunately, Coward never tells you how his people earn a living. When I graduated with my English degree firmly in hand I had no answer for my father’s question: “What now, bigshot?”

Thus, I drifted into journalism. It wasn’t an unfamiliar story in the newspaper business of the time. Back then, it served as a refuge for failed novelists, playwrights, and other flotsam bearing a liberal education.

The thing is, it worked out fine for me. I led an interesting life, had a lot of fun, and earned enough to raise a family in modest comfort. Moreover, at one time or another, I pretty much put to use everything I had learned in college.

And that’s my point — a point these STEM people miss — there’s nothing wrong with learning for its own sake. Knowledge doesn’t go to waste. It comes in handy somewhere along the line, sometimes in the most unlikely places.

I realize that the world now is a very different place from the one I grew up in. Back then, you didn’t have to be a hedge fund manager to work your way through school for one thing. But another difference is that workers today change jobs, even professions, four, five, or six times during their working lives.

Specialists who know only one thing might be left out in the cold when circumstances change. Generalists have the intellectual tools to adapt.

Actually, we’d be better off if more of our politicians had read a few more good novels. Or if perhaps they’d written a poem or two.

Knowing something is always better than knowing nothing.


OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OtherWords.org  Photo credit to Tom Belte/Flickr

Where Would We Be Without Social Security?

Congress must ensure that the promise of Social Security and Medicare remains fully funded.

By Jo Comerford

Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project

Nearly every single American is intimately connected with the earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare — as either a contributor, a recipient, or both.

In fact, a recent national poll indicated nearly 90% of us favor taking strong measures to preserve the long-term stability of both programs. So a recent report released by the trustees of Social Security and Medicare may have caused you to take notice and provoked you to think about — or tell — your stories. Here are a few I’d like to share:

NPP-SocSecMedicare-DonkeyHotey

Melissa M. of Stinson Beach, California, talked about her father-in-law, 60 years old, working for low wages six or seven days each week for 40 years as a manager of a nearby cattle ranch. “The one thing that keeps him going is the letter he gets from the Social Security Administration,” she said. It “tells him how much he has earned in Social Security.”

Allen J. of Portland, Oregon, remarked that he was “a liver transplant survivor because of Medicare.” Martin L. of Cortland, New York, said he was born with a heart defect that required open-heart surgery to replace it. Without Medicare, Martin writes, he “would have no life and no future.”

Alton S. of Lakeland, Florida, was planting a citrus tree when he felt a pain in his lower abdomen. That night, an emergency room doctor told him he had a ruptured diverticulum. Alton remembers overhearing someone say, “We better get this guy to surgery or he’s dead meat.” A combination of his private insurance and Medicare paid for a series of successful surgeries. Looking back, Alton believes Medicare is one of the most “humane and caring arms of our government.”

With a 33-year career as a nurse, Janet P. of Cotati, California, noted that she worked to keep her “clients stable enough to stay out of the hospital.” Every time Medicare or Social Security policy changes, her clients’ lives are affected. Even as she hustles for others, Janet is aware that she needs to think about her own future.

“My savings was in my house, but I lost that,” she said. “I’m older now…getting back that nest egg gets harder and harder, and I’m not confident that either Social Security or Medicare will be there for me when I’m not able to work full-time.”

These are Melissa, Allen, Martin, Alton, and Janet’s stories. Like millions of their neighbors, Social Security and Medicare keep them going, offering them a humane and caring future.

Congress must take sound action to ensure that the promise of both these programs remains fully funded for coming generations. If our elected officials do nothing, after 2026, the government will be able to pay approximately 87% of projected Medicare costs and, after 2033, roughly 75 percent of anticipated Social Security benefits.

The trustees offer us a sobering reminder, not a crazed alarm as some fear. Luckily there are many smart actions Congress can take in response, starting with raising the payroll tax cap and fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. These actions are within our reach and would have a dramatic and positive impact on the well-being of both programs.

Our elected officials need to hear from all of us today. It’s our budget and our future. Let’s weigh in.


Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. You can find these stories and more by visiting the NPP’s Faces of the Federal Budget website. NationalPriorities.org/us/   Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)  Photo credit to DonkeyHotey/Flickr

Yes Indeedee, It’s Confirmed: GOP ‘IS’ Out of Touch

GOP Report Shows Party is Out of Touch With Americans on Threats to Democracy: Money in Politics and Voter Suppression

The Republican National Committee released a report on Monday reviewing its losses in the 2012 election cycle and laying out a roadmap for the future of the party.  People For the American Way Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“This report highlights what we already knew: that the Republican party is out of touch with America. Instead of addressing the party’s anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker policies that voters resoundingly rejected in 2012, today’s report calls for a complete gutting of campaign finance reform – in essence calling for even more big money to be poured into our elections.  If the Republican party were listening to Americans, they would know that the country supports finding systemic solutions to the problem of unregulated money in our political system.  The answer is certainly not to gut the regulations we already have in place.  Instead, we need to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and related cases so that we can create more effective regulations to get big money out of our democracy.

“The GOP report’s recommendations on voting rights also underscore a continuing focus on keeping certain voters from the polls.  After an election cycle overflowing with examples of discriminatory voter suppression efforts aimed at historically disenfranchised communities, the report recommends an ongoing focus on so-called  ‘ballot security training initiatives.’  This is simply another phrase for the same voter intimidation tactics used in the name of preventing supposed ‘voter fraud.’  It’s baffling that the GOP thinks it can improve its image with people of color while still working to block their access to the ballot box.

“This report is yet another example that the GOP’s ‘soul-searching’ hasn’t gotten them very far.  It’s time to refocus our efforts on getting the big money out of elections and the voters into the voting booth.”

Ready to go?

Just exactly how much lipstick have they purchased?  Maybeline and Revlon combined couldn’t make enough lipstick to take care of that pachyderm.

Yesterday— the Republican National Committee released its wide-ranging “autopsy” report called the “Growth And Opportunity Project Report.” In it, the party admits to several shortcomings that contributed to the party’s wide losses in the 2012 election. A portion of the report includes market research from voter focus groups around the country. Not surprisingly, when asked to describe Republicans, respondents said that the party was “scary,” “narrow-minded,” “out of touch,” and full of “stuffy old men.”  What’s most interesting is that the report failed to quantify just how out of touch their party has become on a number of issues, from climate change, to marriage equality, to universal background checks, to women’s rights, to the minimum wage, and more.

The GOP thinks they merely have a messaging problem … and just need to change a few words they used to talk about things.  HAH! Now that’s a joke and a half.  Maybe they should look at their 2012 Platform. Better yet, maybe they should look at what is happening in State Legislatures and what members of their party have introduced in the Congress:

  • Restricting access to or insurance reimbursement of costs associated with an abortion;
  • Restricting time frames in which a woman could seek an abortion to 12-weeks and in on case, to 6-weeks from conception;
  • Mandating the use of transvaginal ultrasounds and other medically unnecessary procedures as a means to shame women;
  • Gleefully and gloatingly defunding Planned Parenthood;
  • Attempting to elevate “religious” rights above all others to allow zealots to assert their religious rights to deny all types of service and/or medications should it offend “their” personal religious beliefs, making their beliefs superior to yours;
  • Continually attempting to repeal Obamacare and providing NO replacement;
  • Promoting continued systemic discrimination against the LGBT community, as a whole, via marriage inequality espoused throughout our Nation’s income tax and estate tax structures;
  • Attempting to enact one voter suppression tactic after another to disenfranchise voters as well as restricting early voting opportunities;
  • Continually filibustering one bill after another, even those introduced by Republicans;
  • Blocking Consumer Financial Protection and making multiple attempts to repeal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform;
  • Promoting racial profiling as a means of harassment to convince Hispanics to “self-deport’ ;
  • Promoting Personhood for embryos and essentially demoting women’s status to nothing more than an incubator;
  • Replacing Democracy with Dictatorships (Overseers);
  • Promoting fatherhood visitation rights for rapists.

I’m sure I’ve missed of few other big issues we’ve had to overcome … but need I go on?  There’s a politically incorrect term we frequently used when I was in the Navy to define that kind of behavior.  The term stars with “cluster.”  The GOPs (Grouchy Old Patriarchs) problem is much more than a “messaging” problem.  It’s a policy problem and we should cheer them on  in pursuit of their messaging delusion.  It will most certainly shorten their path to minor party status.  We may have a few challenges to overcome in the short run, but we’ll all be much better off in the long run.

Don’t believe me?  See for yourself,  take your pick, click a pic or two.  Read/compare a few — then compare the numbers.

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Path-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunites 2009 Path to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

The Progress Report: Devastating Cuts Take Hold

Mar 4, 2013 | by ThinkProgress War Room

Devastating, painful, and, above all, avoidable spending cuts went into effect Friday evening after sequestration became official. Instead of agreeing to a balanced replacement that includes targeted spending cuts and new revenues from closing tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and special interests, Republicans are instead forcing these damaging cuts on the country.

Here’s a look at 32 of the dumbest and most devastating cuts.

Health care

  • $20 million cut from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs
  • $10 million cut from the World Trade Center Health Program Fund
  • $168 million cut from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • $75 million cut from the Aging and Disability Services Programs

Housing

  • $199 million cut from public housing
  • $96 million cut from Homeless Assistance Grants
  • $17 million cut from Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
  • $19 million cut from Housing for the Elderly
  • $175 million cut from Low Income Home Energy Assistance

Disaster and Emergency

  • $928 million cut from FEMA’s disaster relief money
  • $6 million cut from Emergency Food and Shelter
  • $70 million cut from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund at USDA
  • $61 million cut from the Hazardous Substance Superfund at EPA
  • $125 million cut from the Wildland Fire Management
  • $53 million cut from Salaries and Expenses at the Food Safety and Inspection Service

Obamacare

  • $13 million cut from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program (Co-ops)
  • $57 million cut from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control
  • $51 million cut from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
  • $27 million cut from the State Grants and Demonstrations
  • $44 million cut from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program

Education

  • $633 million cut from the Department of Education’s Special Education programs
  • $184 million cut from Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research
  • $71 million cut from administration at the Office of Federal Student Aid
  • $116 million cut from Higher Education
  • $86 million cut from Student Financial Assistance

Immigration

  • $512 million cut from Customs and Border Protection
  • $17 million cut from Automation Modernization, Customs and Border Protection
  • $20 million cut from Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology

Security

  • $79 million cut from Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance
  • $604 million cut from National Nuclear Security Administration
  • $232 million cut from the Federal Aviation Administration
  • $394 million cut from Defense Environmental Cleanup

BOTTOM LINE:  The worst impacts of the cuts won’t happen overnight, but they will happen. Rather than compromise, Republicans instead appear ready to stand by and watch as our economy and millions of Americans are hurt by these irresponsible and devastating cuts. Their reckless behavior got us into this mess in 2011 and now it’s time for them to come back to the table and help get us out of it before the worst impacts of these indiscriminate cuts happen.


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This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Sequestration, the Pentagon, and the States

Sequestration, the Pentagon, and the States offers selected state-level briefs focused on the local impact of looming automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration and historically high levels of Pentagon spending.

On March 1, unless Congress acts, billions of dollars will be cut from domestic programs and the Pentagon. But while these cuts will have a devastating impact on many domestic programs, the Pentagon is better positioned to absorb them due to the significant growth in military spending over the past decade.

Highlights of the release focus on critical domestic programs that could see their funding cut if sequestration goes into effect, and the impact that modest reductions in Pentagon spending could have to safeguard these programs, such as:

  • A $50 billion cut in Pentagon spending could fund five years of Community Development Block Grants AND five years of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) AND four years of Homeless Assistance Grants.
  • Military spending has grown by 35 percent since 2002, 48 percent if you include war costs. Domestic discretionary spending grew by only 8 percent over that period.
  • Funding for FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program has been cut by 53 percent over the last three years. Sequestration would reduce the program’s $100 million FY2013 proposed budget by $5.1 million.
  • At the University of Virginia the Virginia share of total projected Pentagon spending for Fiscal Year 2013, $16 billion, would fund all in-state expenses of a four-year education for each incoming freshman class for the next 46.3 years.

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Read the full report published by the National Priorities Project