Under the Republican Party's new blueprint for America, BP will no longer be required to clean up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the F.D.A. will not restrict the new diabetes drug Avandia just because it's unsafe, and donors will be required to keep their contributions to political campaigns secret.
These positions, based on recent votes in Congress, foretell how the Republicans will govern if they win in the upcoming November elections.
Republicans would prevent the unemployed from receiving Medicaid; prevent treatment, screening or compensation for Americans who assisted during the 9/11 attacks on the WTC; eliminate extensions of unemployment insurance; allow the oil industry to write their own rules for oil exploration and clean-up; open all off-shore areas to oil wells; and stop funding state governments to stimulate the economy.
Senate and House Republicans recently voted to prevent bills from reaching the floor, or took positions, that would: bar homosexuals from the nation's military; allow the ash from burning 136 million tons of coal to be dumped into the nation's waterways; ignore greenhouse gases and the build up of CO2 in the atmosphere, fire tens of thousands of government employee; and drastically cut welfare, food stamps, health care for children and other government programs to aid the poor.
Long-term goals of the GOP include eliminating unemployment insurance, minimum wage laws, Social Security and Medicare, most government regulations, consumer protection laws, and federal aid to education, along with many other government programs they consider detrimental to corporate-business control of the country. Republicans that are even more radical want to make Christianity the state religion, declare war on Islam, assign the death sentence for performing an abortion, and bomb and invade Iran.
Small government, lower taxes and no regulation, mantras of the Republican Party since the Reagan era, are enshrined in new promises to "take America back." The party's so-called road map—"Pledge to America"—attempts to win new votes for the party and put them in control of Congress, even after their policies led to the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
At every turn, Republicans hamstring the Democrats to create a totally dysfunctional governmental process. For example, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office lists over 300 bills passed by House Democrats that cannot make it to the Senate floor due to Republican opposition. Democrats overcame major Republican opposition to pass bills, often with the aid of only one or two Republicans who switched positions to vote with the Democrats.
While there are no estimates of how many of the 300 bills are progressive, a number of them involve significant changes in the areas of most concern to voters: economic recovery and job creation, consumer protection, assistance to homeowners, affordable health care, clean energy jobs, fiscal responsibility, and national security.
In the Senate, the Democrats again convinced one or two Republicans to join in passing major bills signed into law by President Obama. These laws include: a $30 billion lending program and $12 billion in tax cuts for small businesses; stimulus funds to save 3.5 million American jobs; a new manufacturing enhancement act; extension of unemployment benefits; estate tax relief that protects inheritance for 99.8 percent of citizens; Wall Street reforms; a credit cardholder bill of rights; health care extension for 11 million children; and the creation of 1.7 million jobs in clean energy. Republican opposition was almost unanimous.
"It's hard to compromise with people who are against government solutions," said Congressman Sam Farr of California, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Republicans pushed for the election of ultra-conservative ideologues who don't want to cooperate because they don't think the government should be doing education, fire protection or jails; they want to contract out government jobs to the private sector."
The principle of democratic government—majority rule—is being turned on its head. Minority rule is especially troublesome in the Senate, where the GOP holds up bills passed by the House and threatens to filibuster every Democratic proposal. They also refuse to confirm over 240 Obama appointees, in an effort to paralyze government.
Historians haven't seen such minority obstructionism since 1917. In the 1960s, 8 percent of major Senate bills were subject to filibusters. Today Republicans filibuster 70 percent of major Senate business. Senators with few constituents are behind many of the filibusters, which points to systemic problems. For example, a California senator represents 18 million voters, while one from Wyoming represents 260,000 voters.
The country is in a deep recession, trying to recover from four large items that President Bush put on our national credit card—tax cuts for couples making over $250,000 a year, two wars, and a very expensive prescription drug program—in addition to the collapse of the housing bubble. Republicans hope their negative stance will drive voters away from the polls and allow conservative ideologues to put them in office.
Whether Americans fall for the Republican refusenik stance that's full of contradictions, negativity and faulty logic remains to be seen. The new Republican roadmap to prosperity doesn't add up. Republicans are not only at war with logic, but they are also at war with America.
© 2010 Don Monkerud. The author, who writes from iAptos, California, follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.
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