Author Topic: It's Official, The Republican Party Has Finally Screwed The Pooch  (Read 1821 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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It's Official, The Republican Party Has Finally Screwed The Pooch
By Shaun Mullen

1/13/16 4:49am

With the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away and the New Hampshire primary hard on its heels, there is an essential truth in politics today that transcends all others: The Republican Party has finally screwed the pooch and is on a collision course with electoral Armageddon.

This has become such common knowledge -- The New York Times climbed on board recently with a thumbsucker reading like the plot outline of Titanic -- that the problem for pundits like myself in describing the party's self-immolation is to somehow sound new and different. And wonder all the while why the heck the party is unable to do anything beyond rearranging deck chairs as it steams full speed ahead toward that iceberg of a presidential election.

That question is actually fairly easy to answer: The loyalists cognizant of the GOP's parlous condition have been banished from its temple of political purity, and what has become paramount to the forces that now pretty much control the party is defending the five pillars of the temple -- rank nativism, economic recidivism, nonsensical beliefs, an aversion to governing and pathological fear of change. This is more important than even winning big elections.

After the drubbing the party took in the 2012 presidential election, a Republican National Committee commission called the Growth and Opportunity Project brought forth a brutally blunt 98-page report concluding that the GOP had become smug, uncaring and so ideologically rigid that it was turning off a majority of American voters with stale policies that had changed little in 30 years and an image that was alienating to women, minorities and the young.

This call to modernize the party -- to develop "a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us," as the report concluded -- was ignored in its entirety.

At the heart of the of the Republican Party's malaise is a simple fact that has nothing to do with principles or identity: It has played a shell game with voters loyal to the GOP for years. Well, they're sick and tired of it, and is apparent, they're not going to take it anymore.

With mind-numbing regularity, the party establishment has assured its middle- and working-class loyalists that it has their best economic and social interests in mind, and then inevitably craps all over them by promoting tax cuts for the rich, deregulating Wall Street and corporations, and rolling over on culture war issues. This, more than anything, explains why rank-and-file conservatives are no longer willing to defer to party elites and have, in effect, staged a people's coup by elevating candidates like Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson who are not the playthings of of wealthy donors, banksters and elected officials. It matters not that they're idiots.

Add to that opposition to immigration and panic over America's dramatically changing face, or what Lindsay Graham calls the GOP's "demographic death spiral," and the chances of the party coalescing around one candidate as it has typically done -- and even did when the party was sharply divided between supporters of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford in 1976 -- are somewhere between zero and none.

We need look no further than the 2008 nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president to understand when the Republican Party left the rails.

Seven years on -- following two crushing defeats in presidential elections and the likelihood of a third in November -- the destruction that the former half-term governor of Alaska has wrought is immense. And continues to grow. In a much-quoted Washington Post op-ed piece, former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley wrote that Palin set "a new standard" for the Republican Party that has gifted us Carson and Trump, among other buffoons:

"Once John McCain put Sarah Palin on the ticket, Republican 'grown-ups,' who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues. But after the election, when they were free to speak their minds, they either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing-down of the party. They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims that Obama was born in Kenya. And they gladly rode the Tea Party tiger to sweeping victories in 2010 and 2014. . . .

"It's hard to feel much sympathy. The Republican establishment's 2008 embrace of Palin set an irresponsibly low bar. Coincidence or not, a batch of nonsense-spewing, hard-right candidates quickly followed, often to disastrous effect."

Daley may seem to be belaboring the obvious, but the deeply toxic effect that this narcissistic, power abusing kook and liar (who now threatens to take on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski out of sheer spite) has had on the GOP still is not fully appreciated, and only barely so by historians as well as Republicans who mourn the destruction of the GOP Big Tent and the party's descent into pooch screwing.

Nor is McCain's decision to invite Palin to join the ticket after spending less than two hours with her (his man in charge of vetting veep nominees never even met her face to face) properly understood to be the most irresponsible decision in the history of presidential campaigns.

While it's easy to blame Palin for the state of the party, at first glance that state is a mixed bag.

Republicans are rich in statehouses and state legislatures (and generally did well in the November off-off-year elections), firmly in control of the House and pretty much in control of the Senate. But the party is poor where it matters most. It is no closer to recapturing the White House than in 2012 and now arguably even further from that goal. As considerable as the party's legislative and congressional successes have been, they have had much to do with gerrymandering and it is the big dance that counts the most. In that respect, the party's record is awful because voters have elected Democrats in four of the last five presidential elections, not including the one thrown by the Supreme Court, prevailing by a 2-to-1 electoral vote margin (1,446 to 706).

Palin is not the only reason for the Republican Party's dysfunction, but her toxic lip lock is evident in the hapless 2016 presidential campaign.

Taking into account the unelectability of frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, as well as the rest of the still overcrowded field, no party has been in a weaker position 10 months from a presidential election in the modern era. (And please don't ask me what the modern era is; it just has a nice ring to it.)

Sure, the field will narrow and there will be considerable sorting out. But it is the fat cats willing to bet buckets of money on their horse thanks to the largesse of Citizens United who are keeping so many unqualified people in the race. Some 55 percent of the party's registered voters tell pollsters they support candidates who have zero experience in public service but still would entrust them with running the government, maintaining America's place in the world . . . oh, and carrying around the "nucular" football.

So a bit more than half of the Republican electorate insists that it doesn’t want a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, the only people who could conceivably challenge Hillary Clinton, and if Donald Trump and Ted Cruz continue to lead the pack, there will be an irreconcilable split between the party's donor class and the pitchfork brigade going into -- and after -- what party éminence grise Karl Rove concedes is likely to be the first brokered national nominating convention since 1948.

The consequences are these:

* A Trump or Cruz is denied the nomination. The establishment nominee faces an overwhelming Democratic edge and a spoilsport third party bid by a renegade candidate that spells a rout of Goldwater-like proportions.

* Trump or Cruz back into the nomination. The renegade nominee faces an overwhelming Democratic edge and a rout of Goldwater-like proportions as establishment Republicans stay home or cross over to the Democratic column.

Put yourself in the position of a long suffering establishment Republican factotum.

You've paid your dues and worked mighty hard to erase the nightmarish memory of Election Night 2012 when Rove melted down before millions of viewers on Fox News over his disbelief that Barack Obama had carried Ohio despite that call by his own network. And as the long night wore on, it became obvious that you and your pals had deluded themselves into believing that Mitt Romney was going to kick the president's Kenyan ass.

Here it is going on four years later and you have that same sinking feeling. All of that hard work, as well as heartburn from eating way too many pigs in a blanket at fundraising dinners, is going down the electoral toilet because of two deeply unelectable frontrunners that cannot be knocked from their perches.

There is a mysogonistic pretty boy endorsed by white supremacist groups who has descended deus ex machina from his Fifth Avenue penthouse to out-jive a field of once promising presidential prospects with an astonishing succession of inflammatory statements, as well as a foreign-born thug who shows not a scintilla of compassion, is loathed by his Senate colleagues, fond of using Nazi analogies in his solipsistic rants, and "is the most spectacular liar to ever run for president," in the words of one pundit.

It's a beautiful thing.

Offline Battle

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Re: It's Official, The Republican Party Has Finally Screwed The Pooch
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2019, 09:29:01 pm »
Monday, 30th December 2019
After 2 Years, drumphf Tax Cuts Have Failed To Deliver On gop's Promises
by Scott Horsley

Two years ago Friday, Republicans in Congress passed a sweeping tax cut. It was supposed to be a gift-wrapped present to taxpayers and the economy.

But in hindsight, it looks more like a costly lump of coal.

Passed on a party-line vote, the tax cut is the signature legislative accomplishment of President Trump's first term.

He had campaigned hard for the measure, promising it would boost paychecks for working people.

"Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and the machine shops of America," he told supporters in the fall of 2017.

"The plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe-fitters, the people that like me best."

In fact, more than 60% of the tax savings went to people in the top 20% of the income ladder, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The measure also slashed the corporate tax rate by 40%.

"It will be rocket fuel for our economy," Trump promised.

Boosters of the tax cut insisted the economy would grow so fast, it would more than make up for the revenue lost to lower rates.

"The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

It hasn't worked out that way.

"It was unbelievable at the time, and it's proven to be absolutely untrue," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

"The tax cuts were never going to — and have not — come anywhere close to paying for themselves."

Corporate tax revenues fell 31% in the first year after the cut was passed.

Overall tax revenues have declined as a share of the economy in each of the two years since the tax cut took effect.

"Not surprising, if you cut taxes, you get less in revenues," MacGuineas said.

"And what we've been doing at the same time is we've been increasing spending. And no surprise, our deficit has exploded."

The federal deficit this year was $984 billion — an extraordinary figure at a time when the country is not mired in recession or widespread war.

The tax cut also failed to produce a permanent boost in economic growth, despite promises from Republican supporters.

"After eight straight years of slow growth and underperformance, America is ready to take off," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said when the tax cut passed two years ago.

In fact, the economy grew 2.9% last year — exactly the same as in 2015."During President Obama's term."

The tax cut, along with increased government spending, did give a short-term lift to the economy and businesses temporarily boosted investment.

But the rocket fuel burned off quickly. Business investment declined in the last two quarters.

"There was an acceleration in terms of momentum for business investment, but it was rather short-lived," said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics.

"A year further down the road, we're really not seeing much of any leftover of this fiscal stimulus package."

Hampered in part by the president's trade war, the economy is projected to grow only about 2% this coming year.

That's below the administration's target of 3% and slightly below the average growth rate since 2010.

To be sure, the stock market is booming, and unemployment is near record lows.

But while most Americans give the economy high marks, that doesn't extend to the tax cut.

A Gallup Poll last tax season found only about 40% of Americans approved of the cut while 49% disapproved.

Even though experts say most workers did get a bump in their take-home pay, it was largely invisible to many taxpayers.

Only about 14% of those surveyed by Gallup believe their taxes went down.

(That figure includes 22% of Republicans, 12% of Democrats and 10% of independents.)

"For millions of middle-class Americans, it is not a very happy anniversary," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said while wealthy Americans are celebrating their tax savings from the past two years, working people feel like an afterthought.

Perhaps it's an acknowledgement of that sentiment that the president is now talking about another round of tax cuts, after the 2020 election.

"We're going to be doing a major middle-income tax cut, if we take back the House," Trump promised in November.

The president made similar promises before last year's midterm election.
But the follow-up to his 2017 tax cut never materialized.

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Offline Battle

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Re: It's Official, The Republican Party Has Finally Screwed The Pooch
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2020, 04:47:29 am »
Monday, 28th September 2o2o  (originally published Wednesday, 2nd October 2019)
IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor
by Paul Kiel

The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%.

Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.

ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April.

Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance.

Rettig readily agreed.

Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.

On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit.

The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either.

They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says.

On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard.

It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam.

What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.”

As a result, the budget cuts have hit this part of the IRS particularly hard.

For now, the IRS says, while it agrees auditing more wealthy taxpayers would be a good idea, without adequate funding there’s nothing it can do.

“Congress must fund and the IRS must hire and train appropriate numbers of [auditors] to have appropriately balanced coverage across all income levels,” the report said.

Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have driven cuts to the IRS enforcement budget; it’s more than a quarter lower than its 2010 level, adjusting for inflation.

Recently, bipartisan support has emerged in both the House and Senate for increasing enforcement spending, but the proposals on the table are relatively modest and would not restore the budget to pre-cut levels.

However, even a proposed small increase might not come to pass, because it’s unclear whether Congress will actually pass any appropriations bills this year.

In response to Rettig’s letter, Wyden agreed in a statement that the IRS needs more money,

“but that does not eliminate the need for the agency to begin reversing the alarming trend of plummeting audit rates of the wealthy within its current budget.”

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