U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren must use her trademark brains without coming off as an elitist know-it-all…
Posts Tagged ‘Scott’
Mother Jones: Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations.
Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than .6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received ,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election.
That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind ,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits.
The PAC gave million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent ,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping .4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
The Kochs also assisted Walker’s current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker’s assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent ,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.
Starving the [Government] Beast
“Starving the beast” is a fiscal-political strategy adopted by American conservatives in the 1970′s to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government. The term “beast” refers to the government and the programs it funds, particularly social programs such as welfare, Social Security, Medicare and public schools. [see Forbes]
the term “starving the beast” to refer to the political-fiscal strategy was in a Wall Street Journal article in 1985 where the reporter quoted an unnamed Reagan staffer.
The tax cuts of former US President George W. Bush’s administration, still in place, are an example. He said in 2001 “so we have the tax relief plan that now provides a new kind — a fiscal straight jacket for Congress. And that’s good for the taxpayers, and it’s incredibly positive news if you’re worried about a federal government that has been growing at a dramatic pace over the past eight years and it has been.”
Former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressly advocates the policy: “please Congress, starve the beast, don’t perpetuate the problem, don’t fund the largess, we need to cut taxes.” U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, states “you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” Another well-known proponent of the strategy is activist Grover Norquist who famously said “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
Starving the beast in Texas includes Governor Perry and the Republican-controlled Texas legislature proposing to cut up to billion in spending from the next budget, without using any money from the billion rainy day fund, to reduce government by firing tens of thousands of teachers, closing K-12 schools, closing of community colleges, eliminating tuition support for 60,000 college students, closing correctional facilities and drastic reducing state services for the poor, elderly, and young and for those with mental health problems.
Scott McClarty, Media Coordinator for the Green Party (US), has a piece at OpEdNews, a Memo to Progressives:
Is it time for progressive, antiwar, and pro-environmental activists and voters to look beyond the Democratic Party and seek other alliances?
There’s only one plausible excuse left for such voters to remain loyal to the Dems in the [...]
Green Party Watch
Mad as Hell
How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking our Two-Party System
I was not impressed by this book initially. I started with an open mind thinking maybe the Tea Party movement is more mainstream, less ideological or effective than I thought according to the claims in the introduction of Mad as Hell. The first half of the book left me the impression they were trying to affirm the relevance of the Tea Party as means of selling books as if to say ‘See, you are mainstream. Our book says so. Now buy our book.’
It is worth noting that the editing prior to publishing was not done. The book is rife with spelling and grammatical errors as many reviews for Mad as Hell on Amazon.com will point out in detail. I can’t help but wonder if this publication was just a get-rich-quick for-profit venture.
Granted the challenge to Rasmussen and Schoen is the rapidly changing dynamic of what the Tea Party movement is and who it is led by. Even since I started this review things have taken a turn with the Rand Paul campaign violence episode. Some old questions are now up in the air again: Who or what is the Tea Party? Who are the leaders? Is the Tea Party a bunch of racist hillbillies or a legitimate political force? Is the Tea Party grassroots or Astroturf? Pinning an accurate label on the Tea Party is probably not impossible. Just about anything one might say could stick with some truth and relevance. But being a groundswell movement, any labels subscribed to the Tea Party can only be transitory at best. Time will still have to tell what the movement will definitively stand for and more importantly accomplish long term.
From page 5 of the introduction of Mad as Hell: “It is not only America’s most vibrant political force “at the moment” to quote The Economist, but a movement that has unprecedented broad-based support, and the power to influence the 2010 and 2012 elections and, indeed, the future of American politics in ways that have been fundamentally misunderstood and not appreciated.”
From their own statistics later in the book on the demographics of Tea Party sympathizers: 80% are White, just 2% African-American. 68% are Protestant. Are we to conclude that White and Protestant is the new mainstream?
According to the University of Washington study on the subject (http://depts.washington.edu/uwiser/racepolitics.html) 45% of White Americans support the Tea Party movement. White support is evenly divided in enthusiasm: 23% strongly support, 22% somewhat support. White population (18 years old and older) from the 2000 Census is 205,158,752. Translation, nearly 1 in 3 Americans is a Tea Party supporter. One third is hardly a majority but still a substantial showing. Mad as Hell opens by asserting that the Tea Party movement can be classified as mainstream. I was skeptical of that assertion, but given these numbers it is safe to say that the Tea Party in general terms is in fact a mainstream movement.
The effectiveness of the Tea Party can clearly be measured in the short term, but what about long term? The Obama administration has advanced a number of ideological agendas and the Tea Party is a largely dare I say ‘knee jerk’ ideological reaction. Neither persuasion addresses the issue of the necessity of systematic power to the people political reforms. Each side of this short term ideological skirmish is looking at the outcome of this skirmish as an ominous indicator of the future of this country. Although those concerns probably have some merit, where are the strategic thinkers looking beyond this relatively brief skirmish? And why or how did we wind up on opposite sides seemingly on grappling for control of our republic?
More insight into the Tea Party direction and affiliation with the GOP from Mad as Hell: “”the plurality of GOP voters (43%) say their party has been too moderate over the past eight years, and 55% think it should become more like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the future.” These numbers reflect a party driven by a populist core increasingly uninterested in compromise.” (p.171) More like Sarah Palin? Uninterested in compromise? Let me know how that works out for ‘ya. I guess I draw a lot of my skepticism from the fact that factions uninterested in compromise usually have a limited lifecycle in this country or go to great lengths to maintain their control unconstitutionally and unethically (Jim Crow for example).
The Palin Factor
Perhaps my skepticism is related to the Palin factor. I just assumed that both conservatives and liberals know that more appeal is better than less when it comes to winning elections. Like, love or hate Palin, or somewhere in between, I thought it was pretty obvious that Sarah Palin only appealed to party loyalists and evidently white protestant GOP loyalists at that. Truth is, Sarah ‘Fox News’ Palin does not have wide appeal. And the Tea Party movement seems OK with these types of ideological purist arrangements. So, I guess I am skeptical why they think the inequality 33%<51% isn’t an impediment from the start. The best consensus builder (Obama) won in the 2008 Presidential election. He hasn’t done much for that consensus in the meantime, but the basic logic has not changed. I don’t know. Perhaps they are banking on continuing to manipulate the Electoral College and to gerrymander districts (something Karl Rove has unabashedly sworn to do) —another testament to how radically we need to reform the political process away from party manipulation and control. GOP 'tea party' gains in 2010 are from a different kind of establishment power assertion and manipulation of the system, not from a wider appeal and building coalitions of groups who disagree on some points. It appears to me to be a line in the sand when success depends on a successful sales pitch.
So, I started the book skeptical that the Tea Party movement could be considered truly ‘mainstream’. I’m much less skeptical now, but the definition of the Tea Party changes so much from day to day, that it will just be interesting to see what shakes out.
The Conclusion chapter of Mad as Hell was the best. The book would have held me better had I read the conclusion first. Still, if any chapter received any solid editing, I would think it would be the conclusion and the editing is noticeably absent. Perhaps coverage of such a mercurial subject as the Tea Party requires that you publish quickly to get out in front before the subject reinvents itself. I’ll give the authors that one, but I do wonder if there is a niche of sorts for a new style of relevant content much lengthier than a blog, not suited for published video content, but not worth publishing as a hard cover or even e-book as the content may not be relevant in six weeks.
Here’s the message for Scott Brown that I gleaned from last week’s election: Scott, run for president.