Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The GOP Cries Foul. Duh!

Republicans have cried foul, protesting President Obama’s newly submitted federal budget is nothing more than an election year campaign screed.

Duh! What did they expect? From the beginning of the republic politicians have used budgets and perks of office to advance their one true interest—getting themselves re-elected. If there is any shame in this process it is not the president’s blatant advocacy or the GOP’s “surprised” response, but rather the willingness of the media to extend time to the partisan debate without delving into details of what Obama and his detractors propose in their alternate visions of America going forward.

Actually, we have Newt Gingrich to thank for a preview of what any newly elected Republican president’s programs would be. Speaking after he lost the Florida primary to Mitt Romney, Gingrich previewed conservative action: repeal of Obamacare, repeal of Sarbannes Oxley financial reform and accountability, repeal of Dodd Frank banking reform and accountability, executive orders to end any overseas funding of abortions, a shift of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, immediate approval of the controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

In short, a Republican president would tear up any progressive legislation or rule enacted over the last 50 or so years to protect the health and rights of citizens and the environment.

Mitt Romney might have wanted to tack toward the center to enhance his appeal to independent voters in the general election, as was reported last week, but the rise of Rick Santorum as a “true conservative” alternative will prevent the former Massachusetts governor from doing anything but expressing his resolve that he is a “severe” conservative as he struggles to secure his party’s nomination.

Fallout from the Republican primary bloodbath is the rise in Obama’s favorability ratings, helped, no doubt, by more buoyant economic news. After a year in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to have any significant legislation to reduce unemployment enacted, after a primary season that has shifted its focus from the economy to social issues such as reproductive rights, Obama and his fellow Democrats are more confident of their prospects in November.

The GOP will continue to claim the president is engaging in class warfare. And they’d be right. Obama has tapped into latent anger, or Americans’ innate sense of fairness and desire for equal treatment under the law, to challenge the idea that wealthy citizens can legally pay less in taxes than their secretaries. It might be a touch of demagoguery by Obama, but it is playing well in the hinterlands.

As long as the GOP can be colored as the party that protects the rich while cutting benefits to the middle class, the working class and the needy, Republicans will have a tougher time unseating Obama, retaining control of the House and securing control of the Senate. A sure sign the GOP brain trust (is that an oxymoron?) understands this is the decision by Congressional Republicans to agree to an extension of the payroll tax reduction through the end of the year without demanding budget cuts to pay for it, a position House Speaker John Boehner adamantly held just a week ago.


Nixon’s the One: Imagine this—Democrats choose Nixon for president.

No, not THAT Nixon. I mean Jay Nixon, or more formally, Jeremiah Wilson Nixon, 55th governor of the Show Me state of Missouri.

The 2012 election hasn’t even come and gone, yet punsters already are calculating the field of possible 2016 Democratic candidates. Here’s a paragraph from David Leonhardt’s recent article in the NY Times.

“Several other governors — Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts; Tim Kaine, another former Virginia governor; Christine O. Gregoire of Washington; John Hickenlooper of Colorado; Jay Nixon of Missouri — may also be tempted. Even some current mayors, including Cory A. Booker of Newark, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and R. T. Rybak of Minneapolis, may be potential future candidates.” (For the full text from the paper’s Washington bureau chief, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/sunday-review/the-2016-election-already-upon-us.html?_r=1&scp=9&sq=nixon%20democrats&st=cse)

I don’t know much about Jay Nixon or his politics, but I am fairly confident there are lots of Democrats out there, especially those 40 and older, who would have a hard time pulling the lever, punching the chad or doing whatever else is necessary to vote for a candidate with the Nixon surname.

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