Thursday, March 3, 2016

GOP Never Changes Stripes: No Matter Who, What, When, Where, or Why

Proposed New GOP Logo

Words of Wisdom 
(GOP apparently never knew or has forgotten)

Always Easy GOP Target
(The innocent, helpless, and needy)

War on Women is Real
(GOP in Self-Denial)

Science Deniers
(GOP trademark)

Introduction to this long post (sorry): Ponder this question: What if the GOP didn't have a range of these issues to wheel and deal from?
  • “Cut taxes” (give trickle down a chance);
  • “Reduce size of government” (except for what we want bigger);
  • “Stop or prevent a woman from choosing her own health-care (repeal ACA);
  • “Keep MIC and gun makers well-funded” (with open door access to us);
  • “Get Rid of Unions and their money” (but keep big corporate money);
  • “Insist on voter ID laws” (we need to ensure our party wins all the time);
  • “Eliminate public employees and their Unions” (the market is our king);
  • “Shit can all public assistance programs” (tell our base it's for their own good). 

Etc., etc., etc.

Without those issues and a few other harsh policy goals there would be no more GOP, either that or just roll the dice and elect Trump to reinforce those items with the help of Speaker Paul “Marathon” Ryan, who seems to push them, he being the budget guru everyone thinks he is. Then consider this laundry list and background:

Ever since the GOP took total control of Congress following the 2014 election, this is what we have seen happen or attempted:

1.  Without relying on tax increases, budget writers were forced into contortions to bring the budget into balance while placating defense hawks clamoring for increased military spending.
 2.  They added nearly $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to the defense budget for next year, raising military spending without technically breaking strict caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
 3.  The plan contains more than $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to programs like food stamps and welfare.
 4.  Demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care), including the tax increases that finance the health care law.
 5.  Keeps the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the CBO foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.
 6.  Does not cut popular Pell Grants for higher education instead “makes the Pell Grant program permanently sustainable.”
 7.  Cuts spending on Medicaid below $913 billion over a decade once the health program is turned to block grants to the states, as they say: “Our budget realigns the relationship the federal government has with states and local communities by respecting and restoring the principle of federalism.”
 8.  Cuts billions from the SNAP (food stamp program).
 9.  Many domestic programs would be cut $519 billion below the already restrictive caps set in 2011.
 10.  The White House estimates that between the Affordable Care Act repeal and the cuts to Medicaid alone, some 37 million people would lose health insurance that they now have under the ACA.

Now, consider this: the three basic things all humans need to live are: clean safe water; safe healthy food; and clean healthy air – all under attack by the GOP.

Several Examples:

• Funding for EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan (for cleaner air) would be blocked under a $30.2 billion GOP-sponsored bill in the House. The agency would not be able to use any government funding to propose, finalize, implement or enforce the regulation, which was first unveiled in June 2014. The proposed rule, which is the main pillar of Obama’s climate change agenda, requires power plants nationwide to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The final version of the regulation is due out in August. The EPA is also expected to outline how they would ensure states comply with the rules if they refuse to craft their own plans to cut power plant emissions. 

The White House warned in a veto threat of the House bill last week that the rider would place the country “at risk from extreme weather events, wildland fire, poor air quality, global instability, accelerated environmental degradation, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks.

A hearty contrast in play dating back to the Newt Gingrich big win and GOP takeover of Congress in 1995): The GOP message in their fervor to attack “big government, lower taxes, and less regulation has pretty much been like Déjà vu all over again (as Yogi Berra would say) with Republicans gutting some of our most important social safety net of all time, like:

1.  Plans to deny AFDC benefits to children born to single women younger than 18 will push millions off welfare rolls, with no alternative in sight.
 2.  Some are “sacred cows for too long.” For example: agencies such as HUD or quasi-government organizations such as Amtrak.
 3.  One particularly fat sacred cow that might now bite the dust is farm subsidies.

For example, in 1994 the government paid farmers, large and small, some $10 billion to prop up the price of their goods. That benefited a special interest group while sticking it to consumers in two ways: You paid more for goods such as bread, cereal, and milk, and your taxes were higher than they needed to be.

Another example regards school lunches: The Obama administration became more involved in what Americans put on their dinner plates and in their cereal bowls, and requiring school children to be served fruit to eliminating Trans fats in doughnuts.

This new Republican Congress already laid the groundwork to push back in 2015. This GOP in short wants to take on school nutrition in a big way and with harsh methods to boot.

The $1.1 trillion omnibus this month included provisions to allow states more flexibility to exempt schools from the Department of Agriculture’s whole-grain standards if they can show hardship and to halt future sodium restrictions.

Wow, GOP wants to see the hardship in reducing sodium and salt? Wow…

Also this interesting twist: GOP wants more FDA involvement in food labeling:

1.  The labeling issue is not the only one the FDA could play defense on next year.
2.  The FDA can expect continued push back from the food industry on its Nutrition Facts Panel proposal, which would require manufacturers to separately list added sugars. Interest groups have been taking their concerns about what they see as a flagrant bureaucratic overreach to Capitol Hill for months, though it’s not yet clear how a Republican majority might address the issue.
3.  Still another issue that could be a wild card for the FDA later in the year is salt (as mentioned above).

The agency is working on a policy to further reduce sodium in the food supply, but many are in the dark about the project’s status. The issue, which the food industry would quickly attack, is assumed to be on the agency’s back burner for now.

4.  More on the labeling issue: Congress can be expected to debate the need for requiring manufacturers to say when their foods contain genetically modified ingredients (GMO). Following Vermont’s passage of a GMO labeling requirement and several close votes on ballot initiatives, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said he plans to reintroduce a food industry-supported bill early in 2015 that would prevent states from setting their own standards and guaranteeing the authority to label GMOs stays squarely with FDA. The FDA has expressed little interest in making labeling mandatory.

Two examples the radical, very radical practices of this GOP:

• Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) took aim at the FDA’s menu labeling rules earlier this month, saying the measures are “suffocating America’s economy.”  She calls for the passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, HR 1249, a bill she introduced in March 2013 that would roll back some of the administration’s new rules.

•  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is expected to push a companion Senate version next year as well.

Thanks for stopping by as usual in this extremely unusual election cycle - maybe the most unusual in modern races.

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