The Weiner Component #85 – Health Care & the American Public

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding health care reform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care r...

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care reform bill in St. Paul, Minnesota The Tea Party people held a rally calling for the health care reform bill currently being considered in congress to be stopped. Republican U.S. representative Michele Bachmann was the guest speaker. The crowd was filled with signs and stickers for Bachmann and other Republican candidates. Signs read: Abort healthcare Abort Obama Save Our Country Republicans Weed Out Your Progressives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most industrial nations in the world today have some form of universal health care sponsored by their government and paid for by taxes. One of the few exceptions is the United States where it is and has been strongly opposed by the Republicans in Congress and in some state legislatures.

Today, in most nations, virtually everyone needs some form of health care. Those who are employed by reasonably sized companies and up generally have some form of medical insurance. The members of Congress and the state governments have some of the best plans available. The employed middle and upper classes are generally nicely covered. The poor and those working for low wages do not generally have medical coverage. Therefore those throughout the United States with no health insurance would be most of the bottom 20% of the population, around 18 to 20 million people.

Today everyone needs at least yearly checkups by the medical profession. There are too many people walking around with coughs and with what they consider minor problems. These people cannot afford medical treatment until their malady reaches a critical stage and they are forced to go to emergency care at a local hospital. Many of these emergencies could have been avoided with proper medical treatment. A number of these emergencies will end up with unnecessary deaths; treatment was too late.

How do we know this? Twenty percent of the people living in the poverty group will die ten years sooner than those living in middle or upper class groups.

I have a malady which is not uncommon and come to many in the older population. Without constant monitoring and treatment I would have died several years ago. With treatment I will live for another ten to twenty years.

William Jefferson Clinton was elected to the presidency of the United States in 1992. He served as 42 President from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton led a group of Congressmen in the development of a National Health Care Reform Bill. Even though the Democrats were the majority party in both Houses of Congress for the first two years of the Clinton Administration the Republican Party was able to defeat the bill. Their slogan, which was eminently successful, was: “There has to be a better way.” The “Better Way” was no health reform. We seem to be in a similar position today except that the bill was passed into law four years ago and is more or less in operation today with the Republicans still demanding its extraction.

The Republicans are claiming that they will have a better and more comprehensible bill. But they have presented nothing so far. The irony of the situation is that the basic medical plan was developed by a far-right Republican think tank and first put into operation in Massachusetts by its then Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

The system is run by private business with the government setting the rules and supplying much of the money. Unlike what exists in other countries this system is largely run by private enterprise. Why, then, are the Republicans so against it? Could it be because it was inaugurated by a black president

The major problem which is being faced in a number of Republican run states is that, because of a Supreme Court decision, the governor of each state can accept or reject total medical coverage for all his citizens within his borders. The Federal Government will pay the total cost of this plan for the first three years. This is money that these states have already paid in taxes that they will be getting back. A number of Republican governors have refused to accept this expansion of Medicare for their poor citizens who have no medical coverage.

Why are they doing this? Are they standing on principle? These governors and their Republican legislators have very comprehensive coverage for themselves. Yet they are refusing it to the poor within their respective states. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas is doing this as well as a number of others. An argument can be made as to how this refusal will be hurting not only the people who will still have no medical coverage but also the economics of the respective states.

I understand that many if not most of these men are religious, good white, fundamentalist Christians. They believe in Judgment Day and the world to come. If they’re right, then they’ll have to explain why they breached the Holy Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill,” and take the punishment for that action.

 

 

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons

 

The Weiner Component #84 – The Republicans & the American Infastructure

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

The purpose of Congress in the United States is to serve the people, not to play politics. The Republicans in Congress are not carrying out their proper function. The American people deserve better. Either the Republican Congressmen have no knowledge of Macroeconomics or they are plain vicious, caring only for themselves and the welfare of heir party.

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has come out with statements to the effect that Harry Reed and the Senate Democrats have not picked up any of the job creation bills that the House of Representatives have passed. The question here is what job creation bills? The only ones that come to mind are the fifty bills they passed to do away with Affordable Health Care. They claim that this law is a job busting one. How, they never say.

The fact is that eight million plus people, many who have never before been able to afford medical insurance, now have health coverage. If anything, Obamacare has created more jobs in the medical field. Just the paper work involved would require many more clerks

I am reminded of one of President Roosevelt’s 1936 campaign speeches where he stated sarcastically the Republican position at that time. The Republicans wanted to be elected so they could administer the New Deal. They said, in effect, that they would do it better and there would be more of it. Boehner wants to get rid of Obamacare so they can pass a bill creating Boehner Care that would be better and include more medical coverage for everyone. Of course there are no details of what this bill would contain. Probably they would be as efficient in passing it as they are in solving the illegal immigrant problem or a minimum wage bill.

In 1929 it was Republican Administrations that brought the Great Depression into being. In 2008 it was also Republicans who had brought the Real Estate Bubble into existence. Now they are going to solve this problem by bringing back conditions that brought this situation about.

How do we know this? In the 2012 Presidential Election Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, promulgated this plan. It was the Republican Platform. They acted as though there had never been an economic crash in 2008 during the Bush Republican Administration.

Everything the House of Representatives has done since it gained a Republican majority in 2011 has been aimed at exacerbating the conditions brought about by the Real Estate Disaster. They have not passed one jobs bill since that time. There has been no fiscal policy. Instead the House has shrunken government services, particularly to the poor, starting a chain reaction which forced state governments to do away with multitudes of state jobs. The Republicans have been hypocrites, saying one thing and doing the opposite. Paul Ryan has stated, in effect, that he would not feed a hungry person because the dependence would take his dignity away from him. Really!

What we need are programs to get rid of hungry, homeless people by providing jobs for them. Up to this point when we thought of the infrastructure of this country we believed how upgrading it would decrease unemployment in the United States and help bring prosperity to all its people. Isn’t it time to consider the actual needs of the nation? Going into the 21st Century with a 20th Century Infrastructure is just plain dumb. Most of our infrastructure was built well over fifty years ago and is outdated or inadequate.

Also, whether because of man’s abuses or for reason of natural changing conditions the weather patterns have and are changing and bringing phenomenal strain upon these structures. In the winter of 2013—2014 there were some radical changes in weather conditions within some areas of the United States. These changes or others like them, whether caused by natural climate changes or by pollution, could become normal in the future.

Temperatures dropped to 16 below zero in Chicago, during early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S. A fifth of all power generating capacity in a grid serving 50 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze. Sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had serious problems finding enough natural gas to keep power plants operating. The wholesale price of electricity jumped to more than forty-times its normal rate. The retail price became insane. One customer received a bill for $1,250 for January that was eventually reduced to $750. Another one with a $654 bill got no relief.

The problem with the cost of the electricity was the result of an antiquated grid and the pacific vortex, the cold air mass that settled over the nation. It exposed a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity grid. We need a modernization of the system or we are open to facing all sorts of emergencies in the near future.

The infrastructure is the basic facilities, services, and instillations needed for the proper functioning of the nation, such as communications and transportation systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and other needed public entities.

In April tornados hit sections of the central United States. Billions of dollars in property was damaged and destroyed. People were killed. The basic problem here is that the warning system is only fifteen minutes before the storm strikes. We have the knowledge and technology to do far better than that. Cities susceptible to these storms all need tornado warning systems and storm shelters. Since damage seems to be higher in mobile home parks these all need storm shelters. The cost of installing all this would not be that great and the savings in human lives would most likely be considerable.

Both urban and rural highways need constant maintenance. While constant construction does go on in some areas this does not occur. Also many highways are old, built decades ago, containing numerous pot holes and insufficient lanes. The population using them has increased considerably and improvements, if any, have been minimal. It’s time for a revamping of our nation’s roads and highways. We need a modern transportation system to supply the needs of today’s citizenry and to allow for rapid and easy movement of goods and people.

Public schools, both primary and secondary, in many cases were built during the first half of the 20th Century. They need to be refurbished or in some cases rebuilt so they can function as modern educational institutions. State colleges and universities also, in many cases, are dated structures. They need to be enlarged and modernized in order to serve the needs of today’s students.

Municipal, state, and federal buildings, proper and adequately built aqueducts to carry clean water to all the urban and rural areas of the country are needed. Most bridges in the country are over fifty years old. Some are in danger of collapsing; a section of one did a few years ago dropping several automobiles into the river. Luckily no one died.

At the rate we’re going most industrial nations will bypass the United States in their infrastructures.  Do we go forward with modernization or patch after each disaster?

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #77 – Changing Democgraphics, Republican Apartheid

People of All Kinds

People of All Kinds (Photo credit: Viewminder)

Apartheid is an Afrikaan word that means “the state of being apart,” or apart-hood.  It was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the ruling party from 1948 to 1994.  Under it the rights of the majority of black inhabitants were curtailed and white Afrikaner minority rule was maintained.  The term is today used for every kind of segregation established by a state authority in a country against the civil and social rights of a group (minority or majority) of its citizens.

The problem that the whites faced in South Africa was how to retain control of a country where they were the clear minority.  After all if the black majority got control of the government they could legislate the whites out of everything they owned.  It wasn’t a question of just equal rights for the majority of the whites also believed that they were superior.

From the initial settlements in South Africa there was a history of white superiority where the white settlers had taken control the best land.  Apartheid was merely a means of maintaining what already existed.  It seemed to guarantee perpetual white dominance in a country where  the white population would always be a minority.  It would continue until 1994 when both world (boycotts) and internal pressure would cause a realistic change to be brought about.

Since their victories, both on a state and federal level, in the Midterm Election of 2010 the Republican Party has begun their own version of Apartheid.  In essence they are the minority political party consisting mostly of old white men and evangelists.  They have further decreased their support by taking on causes that have alienated specific groups of people within the country.

The Republicans have systematically, in support of their evangelical members, attacked women’s rights, ostensibly they are against abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or worst, where the woman’s life is in danger.  From this the Republicans, in states that they control, have legislated free health clinics out of existence.  Many are even against any form of contraception.  Rick Santorum, in his 2012 Presidential Campaign, seemed to want the country to become a theocracy.  In essence the Republicans have done away with the female health centers for poor women in states that they control stating that these facilities perform abortions.  (Any woman with money can receive any kind of medical treatment she can afford either in the U.S. or elsewhere.)

They have refused to support immigration reform.  Many have argued that if the undocumented people in the United States receive legal status they will vote for Democratic candidates.  They are also homophobic, supporting only marriage between a man and woman.

In the 2008 Presidential Election not only were the Republicans badly beaten (59,934,814 to 69,456,897) but a black man was elected President of the United States.  His theme during the election had been, “It’s time for a change.”  Unfortunately the new administration inherited a massive recession headed toward a deep depression.  For the next two years President Obama was busy working for recovery.  During his first two years he was able to avert the depression and, with a majority in both Houses of Congress, bring about the Affordable Health Care Bill, which was actually based up a Republican plan.

In the 2010 Midterm Election the Republicans were able to attain a majority in the House of Representatives and win a number of state houses and legislatures.  They gained six seats in the Senate, six additional governorships, and about seven hundred seats in state legislatures across the nation.  The Democrats lost sixty-four seats in the House of Representatives and the Republicans gained the majority in the House.

2010 was a census year.  In the states the Republicans controlled they gerrymandered the states to give themselves the advantage.  This was effectively done so that in the 2012 Election they retained control of the House even though 1.4 million more overall votes were cast for Democrats throughout the nation.

The knowledge that the Republicans gained from all this was that they won elections when fewer people voted.  In 2010 many Democratic voters, largely in disgust that the recession was not over, stayed home and did not bother to vote.  The Republicans were able to gain their victories from a greatly reduced electorate.  The probability is that if the same number of people that had voted in 2008 had voted in 2010 the Republican victories would have been largely reduced or non-existent.

The Republicans so like this idea of limited voting that they have been working hard to bring it about in the states that they control.  In the 2012 Presidential Election numerous state laws were passed that were intended to limit voting of groups of groups that favored Democrats; the elderly, the young, Hispanics, and women suddenly found their ability to vote limited.

The Republicans are against abortions and many forms of birth control but it should also be strongly noted that no provision has ever been made for providing help to all these poor families for all the additional births.  In fact the Republicans in Washington have cut entitlement programs which provide food stamps and other forms of aid to poor families.  They want all possible children to be born but they are not concerned with assuming any responsibility for helping to feed or raise them.

By their righteous definitions the Republicans have declared war on women, treating them as not being mature enough, regardless of their age, to make their own medical and life decisions.  It seems that these white old men now legislate the choices or females to reproduce.

In Florida and some other states people waited in line as much as eight hours or more in order to vote in the Presidential Election of 2012.  Many had to leave the lines in order to pick up their children at school or return to work and could not vote.  Others would have stayed in line no matter how long it took to exercise their Constitutional right.

A Democracy is supposed to be rule by the majority with the rights of the minorities being protected.  According to the Republican minority they are right in what they want and the majority is wrong.  The only way they can attain what they want, rule over the majority, is; by taking the vote away from those that do not agree with them.  This is what was done in South Africa, where it was called apartheid.  For the oncoming Midterm Election in November of 2014 and the Presidential Election of 2016 the Republicans are gearing up by numerous attempts through the states to further limit the vote by Democrats.

The demographics continue to change.  In 2014 there will be 2% less whites eligible to vote in the state and federal elections.  In 2016, the next Presidential Election, the white population will have decreased another 2%.  We are no longer a country of WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants).  The white majority today is a memory.

In many states the amount of time to vote was shortened.  Additional days, like weekends, were eliminated as a time to vote.  Virtually anything that would reduce or restrict voting, particularly by registered Democrats, was attempted.  Use of driver licenses for identification affected many minorities and the elderly who did not have them.  Registered names were struck off of voter lists by the hundreds in some states.  These people, when they came to vote, had to have proof with them of their eligibility.  Gun licenses were accepted in at least one state as proof of who a person was but college student IDs were not.  Much of what the Republicans did was challenged in court and was found to be illegal; but a good percentage was acceptable and did limit the vote.  It is probable that President Obama could have gotten another five to ten million votes had 2012 been an open election and that the Democrats also could have regained control of the House of Representatives.

The problem that the old white men, the Republicans face in the American political system is how to retain control of a country where they are one of the minorities.  In the 2014 Midterm Election there will be 2% less whites voting and in 2016 it will be another 2%.  After all if the Democratic majority got control of the government they could legislate the Republicans out of everything in which they believe.  It isn’t a question of just equal rights for the majority of the Republicans also believed that they superior.  To them APARTHEID is a way of saving their superior civilization.  The Republicans believe they must have APARTHEID, rule by the righteous few.

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The Weiner Component #70 – Intentions of the Framers of the Constitution

English: First page of Constitution of the Uni...

One of the major objects, if not the major object, of the framers of the Constitution was to create a government of the majority with protections for the minorities.  A true Democracy is supposed to express the will of the majority.  The major reason for education in our society was to create a population capable of reasoning and therefore able to elect the best people capable of representing them.

Today instead the object of government as applied by the far right and the evangelicals is to create a government where they, the minority, rule and set the standards for the majority.  Through the use of seemingly endless amounts of money in advertising, gerrymandering, and outright prefabrication they have been able sway elections to give themselves the power to impede necessary reforms and cause untold misery in the nation.

The Republican Party has been vociferously attacking Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) since they were able to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2011.  With the upcoming Midterm Election in November of 2014 the leadership of the Party has promised to make that a major issue, destroying Obama Care.

In a March Special Election in Florida, in an overwhelmingly Republican District, the Republican candidate just barely won the election.  Interestingly he treated his victory as one in which he totally trashed the Democratic candidate and the overall bulk of the population in his District voted to get rid of Obama Care.  The reasoning by the candidate and the party seems to be fallacious.  Presumably the new basis of the November Election in 2014 will be to elect Republicans so they can do away with Obama Care.

This seems to be in the opinion of many of that group a way to regain control of Congress.  The concept is fascinating since the entire concept of Obama Care was originally developed by the Heritage Foundation, a Republican Think Tank, and initially set up in Massachusetts under Republican Governor Mitt Romney.  It would seem that the reason for attacking Obama Care is to gain political power In Washington, D.C.

Interestingly, if we take the different parts of Obama Care and discuss them with the general public we find that they like the parts.  For example, keeping a child on their parents medical plan until he or she is 26 if the youngster is going to college, insurance companies not being able to reject people because of a prior condition, overall lower insurance rates for most people, no maximum limit in terms of what the insurance company has to spend on any condition, etc., etc.  But then if you ask them what they think about Obama Care the answer is that they don’t like it.

What seems to have happened is that the Republican prefabrications, like death panels and other nonsensical statements, which the Republicans have repeated over and over again, have, more or less, taken hold.  A good percentage of the people do not associate Affordable Health Care with the benefits it’s so far provided.  It can also be stated that the Democrats have not provided enough positive information to the public compared to the Republicans who have given redundantly endless negative statements.

In addition to using Obama Care as a means of gaining political power the wealthy Republicans like the billionaire Libertarian Koch Brothers have begun, through groups they fund, utilizing television and other forms of advertising as early as March for the oncoming November Election.  The probability is that billions will be spent on the Midterm Election.  And most of this money will be spent by the Republicans attempting to buy power by trying to gain control of the Senate and keeping control of the House of Representatives.  This is also true for state elections.

Will they gain control?  An interesting question!  We’ll have to wait and see.  Can the American voter be bought by propaganda and go against his/her own economic interests?

If the Republicans are successful the country will have total gridlock for 2015 and 2016.  They will not have a supermajority in the Senate and the Democrats will do what they, the Republicans, have done from 2009 on, filibuster the bills they are against and the President will veto the bills he is against.  They might try to impeach him as they did President Clinton; but, I suspect, they will have a problem doing so.  Of course they might be able to push through some strange laws, that the President would consider unconstitutional and break, as they did in 1868 with President Andrew Johnson.  But that did not effectively work then even with supermajorities in both Houses of Congress.

If the Republicans were to gain control of Congress in 2015 they would have to find positive reasons for running the country and they would also have to be able to work with the President.  At this point none of this seems possible.  All they have done since 2011 has been to impede all programs for which Obama could claim credit.  They haven’t been for anything except lowering taxes for corporations and the upper 1%.  The Republicans have done an outstanding job of keeping the country in a recession, attacking woman’s rights, and limiting benefits in entitlement programs for the poor and needy.  Paul Ryan, for example, has defined sloth as a racial thing.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

 

 

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The Weiner Component #66 – Macroeconomics & the GDP

Imagine a giant caldron or pot as high and as large as the tallest building you’ve ever seen,

The western front of the United States Capitol...

The western front of the United States Capitol. The Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings. It is an exemplar of the Neoclassical architecture style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

filled[ with money, paper bills, with over 17 trillion dollars in it.  This is the Gross Domestic Product, the GDP, the amount of wealth produced in one year in the United States.  It represents the monetary value of all the goods and services produced and consumed in a twelve month period.  The money is a paper means of exchanging all this wealth and productivity, all the goods and services produced in one fiscal year.  It has no real value except as a token of transfer, goods and services for goods and services.  There is nothing behind the dollar except the word of the Federal Government.  Gold, which has a high value, cannot be used for money because there is not enough of it in existence to meet the financial needs of any of the many industrial nations.

The real wealth is what is produced and exchanged.  The money is merely the means of exchange that rates one unit of productivity against another and is used nationally or internationally.  The currency, then, is the tool through which this system of exchange occurs.  It can be used immediately or stored in institutions like banks or credit unions and used at some point in the future.  Money can also be used as a commodity, loaned or rented out with interest for a period of time or it can be used for all sorts of investments that pay interest or dividends.  It is in every case a tool to satisfy different types of wants and needs.

To consider money as the source of wealth is to be naïve.  The amount one has through earnings or inheritance can be used as a sort of score to determine one’s level of success against that of all other people in the society.  It is a government supplied tool that allows for the productive functioning of society.

It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to keep enough of it in circulation, a constant cash flow, so that full productivity occurs.  A shortage of the money supply in the nation can cause economic recession and eventual depression.  An excess amount of money in the National Economy can bring about run-away inflation, too much money available for the goods and services produced.  The Federal Government’s task is to provide just enough for full employment and full creation of the goods and services needed for the highest possible standard of living for the entire population.

This is not easy and requires constant readjustment because, according to the U.S. Census Bureau the population of the nation is increasing at the rate of one additional person every eleven seconds.  This figure includes births, immigration, and deaths.  In 2010, the time of the last National Census, the estimated population was 308,745,536, and this was considered a low count.  While an adjustment upward was made a year later this figure was used for the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives.

One has to keep in mind that in addition to this number the population since then has increased at the rate of 5.46 people per minute, 327.27 per hour, 7,854.55 per day, 54,981.81 per week, 2,866,911 per year, plus another 7,854 for leap years.  The money supply has to be continually increased to keep up with these ever-growing numbers or the country moves in the direction of economic constriction, unemployment, recession, and finally depression.  All this is supposed to be done by the Federal Reserve with the aid of Congress and the President.

The Federal Reserve continually monitors the economy and continually makes its adjustments through Monetary Policy.  It can strongly but not completely affect the amount and flow of currency. The other section of the Federal Government that is supposed to continually affect the level of economic prosperity in the country is Congress.  They do this through fiscal policy; passing laws that can diminish or create employment throughout the United States by either increasing or decreasing government spending.  In essence through the passage of laws they can constrict or expand the cash flow and the level of employment

If we look at the actions of the Republicans in the House of Representatives from 2011 on, when they gained control of that body, it would seem that they by their actions are working very hard to bring this country into an economic depression and not allow for any recovery from the Real Estate Debacle of 2008.  We are still, six years later at seven plus percent unemployment.  Millions of people are still not earning enough to maintain a decent standard of living.  There is growing hunger in America, that many people are not food secure.  What are the Republicans proposing and trying to push through Congress?  Massively reducing food stamp and other programs that are vital for the proper survival of fifteen or more million people.

Their version of job creation is to massively reduce Federal spending for entitlement programs while wasting twenty-five billion dollars on shutting down the Federal Government for a period of time.  If one looked for a plan to destroy the United States or make it into a third rate nation then one would do exactly what the Republicans in Congress have been and are trying to achieve, to bring a large part of the population into despair and desolation.

The Republicans are acting like the Hoover Administration did from 1929, when the Great Depression broke, until 1933, when the Roosevelt Administration came into being.  Is it an act of maliciousness or just simply economic ignorance?  They are attempting to run the country as they run or ran their household budgets.  One Tea Party Congressman stated that he understood economics because he had raised a family.  They are making money the object of value and ignoring the potential productivity of the nation.  They are actually using the principles of Microeconomics, which works well with households, businesses, and state and municipal governments but can create disaster if it is used to run an industrial nation of over 300 million people.

 


 

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The Weiner Component #65 – Dysfunctional Government

A dysfunctional family is one that is perennially in chaos.  Nothing ever gets done; no issue is ever solved; nothing is ever accomplished.  A dysfunctional government works or doesn’t work on the same basis.  Its lawmakers are incapable of accomplishing anything, at least anything that the nation really needs.

Is that the situation that exists in Washington, D.C.?  The answer to that question is obviously, yes.  But is the answer that simple?  Are both political parties equally responsible or is the true villain just one of the particular political parties?

Toward the end of the last year of the reign of George W. Bush as President of the United States the economy collapsed.  Because of the activities of the major banks the country was facing a catastrophe greater than that of 1929.  Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury, Paulson, did an emergency bank bailout of the big Financial Institutions whose greed and irresponsibility had caused the situation.

In 2008 Barak Obama was elected President on a platform of: “It’s Time for a Change.”  Through the use of both Fiscal and Monetary policy he was able to avert a major breakdown of the economy.  In addition he bailed out the auto industry.  The country had a recession with major unemployment but it never reached a real depression.  The Obama Administration also passed a universal Affordable Health Care Bill, which, had been initially suggested by the Horizon Institute, a Conservative Republican Think Tank and earlier put into operation in the State of Massachusetts by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

In the 2010 Midterm Election the Republicans under Tea Party leadership became the majority party in the House of Representatives.  Apparently there hadn’t been enough “change” during President Obama’s first two years in office!

The Republican caucus in both Houses of Congress had earlier decided the Obama would be a one term president.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader in the Senate had announced this publically.  They would support nothing that President Obama proposed.  In fact, they would oppose everything he would favor.  Government functionality would cease.  From 2011 on the House of Representatives would not pass any bill that supported any program that Obama or the Democrats favored and that they would oppose any bill that had been passed during his first two years in office.

The House repealed Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) over forty times.  The repeals went nowhere because the Senate had a Democratic majority and the majority leader would not take up the bill which was already law.

In 2011 President Obama came out with a plan to put America back to work by both extending and modernizing the infrastructure of the United States.  This would probably have reduced unemployment to about 3 1/2 percent, increased the GDP significantly, and substantially increased the tax base of both the Federal Government and the states.  The Republican majority and the Speaker of the House of Representatives completely ignored these plans.  The House of Representatives from 2011 on has done absolutely nothing in any way to create jobs for the unemployed.  By their actions they have sought to reduce government employment and have actually added to the unemployment problem.

In 2012 the House of Representatives met in formal session 125 days, in 2013 it was 121 days, and in 2014 it will be for 120 days.  Some Republican legislator made a comment about what will they do in all that time.  The members of Congress receive 174 thousand dollars a year, plus an office and a fully paid staff.  The get an allowance for an office in their home districts.  I would love to work 120 days out of 365 for that pay and do as much as the House Republican legislators!

In 2013, late at night, the Republicans changed the rules in the House of Representatives so that only bills favored by the majority party could be brought up for a debate or vote on the floor of the House.  If a bill favored by the Democrats and a small number of Republicans came up, the Speaker of the House did not have to call for a vote on that bill, even if the majority favored it.  The only bills that needed to be brought up were those favored by the majority of the Republicans in the House.

In the Senate the Republican minority can filibuster both bills and Presidential appointments of judgeships and appointments of assorted department heads.  The position of the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms was only recently filled after being vacant for six to eight years.  The NRA wanted this job left vacant.  The post was filled after Harry Reed, the majority leader, threatened to change the rules and end filibustering most Presidential appointments.

In mid-November, over the issue of three judgeships, in which the Republicans refused to allow a vote to be taken because they did not want Obama to fill three vacancies in the second highest court in the U.S., the Senate by a simple majority changed the rules and disallowed filibustering in most presidential appointments.

In 2012 the closest the Republicans came to a compromise was the Sequester, which automatically dropped government spending across the board on all levels except Congressional salaries that automatically rose every year.  These, cut down military spending and innumerable entitlement programs for the poor: meals on wheels and infant nutrition to name only two.  In 2013 they shut down the government, refused to raise the debt ceiling, and cost the country about 24 billion dollars and around 250,000 jobs.  If they had had their way and gotten everything they wanted the country would currently be in a deep depression with unemployment up well over 25 percent.  Their version of running the government is not only to not spend money but also to massively reduce the size of the Federal Government.

Even though the public cast 1.4 million more votes for the House Democrats in 2012, by gerrymandering in the census year, 2010, the Republicans still got a majority in the House.  The country will need an overwhelming majority in 2014 to beat them.

 

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

There is a note of irony that helps explain this dysfunction.  Since the Republicans have determined to oppose everything that President Obama supports they have gone against some policies that initially were their own.  The reason for this, as we have seen, was to make Obama a one term president.  When they failed in 2012 they still adhered to these policies.

 

Affordable Health Care will help keep a number of people alive who would otherwise have died earlier because they could not afford to see a doctor until it was an emergency.  Many children will now get prenatal care.  The insurance companies, even with more restrictions on what they can do, will get a tremendous increase in business.  Yet the Republicans continue to denounce this law using mostly general platitudes.  They offer nothing except the argument that it’s no good, that it will harm the society and kill jobs.

We are probably the only industrial nation in the world today that doesn’t have universal medical care for its citizens.  Our original system of medical care is faulty, inefficient, and overly expensive.  The Republicans offer no alternative except that Obama Care is no good.  Really spiteful reasoning!

We can again ask ourselves: Why is Congress dysfunctional?  The answer is because of Congressional Republican acts or lack of any action since 2011 when they gained control of the House of Representatives.  The 2014 Midterm Election will determine what direction this country takes.  If the Republicans retain the majority in the House we can look forward to two more years of economic disaster.  The American People will have to choose in 2014.  Hopefully the majority will understand their choices.  Unfortunately we have to wait another year before there’s any hope of a functioning government.

 

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The Weiner Component #63 – The State of the Union & the Republican Party

Official photographic portrait of US President...

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, the President of the United States, Barak Obama, gave the yearly State of the Union speech.  He was positive about the nation and vowed that as far as he could he would extend numerous programs if Congress did not act.  He is the chief administrator in the country who carries out the laws.  Congress alone has the power to pass laws.

The Republican response to his speech was given by Washington State Representative Cathy Mc Morris Rogers, the 200th woman elected to the House of Representatives. The fact that she mentioned that she is the 200th woman was interesting in that women make up about 53% of the overall population of the United States.  There are 435 elected members of the House of Representatives.  Women got the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  Why is their number in Congress so low that it has taken 94 years for 200 members of their gender to be elected to Congress?  Have they been busy being pregnant and raising children since 1920?

Mrs. Rogers, as she gave her presentation, appeared to be a very nice lady.  She spoke sitting on a couch, presumably in a living room somewhere.  To a certain extent she praised President Obama stating that their goals were similar, the welfare of the American people; but their methods of achieving them differed.  She spoke about Republican plans in Congress to create more jobs, expand medical care, and generally improve conditions for the unemployed and middle class.  Her statements were general, no specifics were given.

What came to my mind from what she said were some of the statements that Republicans had made over the years.  They would achieve these ideal conditions by lowering taxes for the rich so that they could create more jobs.  According to the Speaker, John Boehner, the rich are the job creators.  The rich have gotten far richer in the last decade but we still have high unemployment.  Where are the jobs they are supposed to have created?

Nothing Cathy Morris Rogers said dealt with how to expand medical care for everyone.  She gave one example about Affordable Health Care where an individual’s rates were raised.  It was a very general group of statements.

What basically I heard in her speech was pabulum: trust us, we’ll make things better for you.  Even though the Republican in Congress have done nothing, since they gained control of the House in 2011, to improve economic conditions in the country except attach the term “Job Creating” to numerous bills that had nothing to do with jobs.  In fact Republican actions in Congress have exacerbated negative conditions in the United States to the point of worsening the economic plight of a goodly percentage of the population.

Why did the Republicans choose a woman legislator to respond to the President’s speech?  It struck me that the answer to this question was very obvious.  The Republicans have been continually accused of making a war on women.  According to Mike Huckabee, the former preacher and governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, they all want the government to pay for birth control so they can have continuous sex.  The fact that birth control is a factor used by women for purposes of their own health and family planning is immaterial.

(Parenthetically, Huckabee signed a bill as Governor of Arkansas that made birth control a requirement for all female medical plans in Arkansas during his term as governor.)

The Republicans are acting as though women are incapable of making life decisions for themselves.  They have been doing this for quite a while.  They want women to pay the cost of many of their health decisions while men can freely get coverage on such sex enhancing drugs like Viagra.

In addition to all this many Republicans want an end to all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother being in danger.  The Republicans, who seem to be mostly older white males seem to see women as objects that they must control.  If this isn’t war on women I don’t know what is?

The choice of a woman, Cathy Morris Rogers, to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union speech was an attempt to demonstrate that there is no war on women.  It was supposed to bring both women and men to or back to the Republican fold.

Her speech had no real substance and it belied Republican actions in Congress since 2011.  The message she gave for the Republican Party was:

Trust us, we’ll do right by the nation.  There was no way of telling how or when.  It gave words but no actions.  The President, on the other hand, was very specific about what he will do.

The Midterm Election will be held toward the end of 2014.  By their voting the public will decide what kind of future the country will have in 2015 and 2016.  Will it be more Republican austerity or Democratic growth?

 

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The Weiner Component #56 – Obama Care, The Affordable Health Care Law

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Venomously and mischievously the Republican Party has opposed the Affordable Health Care Law whose basic aim is to insure all Americans against any kind of medical catastrophe.  Sara Palin, among others, has gushered forth against it and its “so-called” evils like a broken toilet spewing forth its sewerage.

The Republican Party is seemingly against it to the last man; generally denouncing Obama Care as the worst catastrophe ever promulgated against the American People.  Rick Santorum seems to count it as equal to the worst punishment Satan could command against any sinning soul.  The Koch brothers have put out rather disgusting commercials telling young adults to opt out of the law, refuse to join and don’t get medical insurance.  They would rather have them be dependent upon the government and the taxpayers if a critical medical emergency were to occur.

What’s wrong with this law?  What great evil will it bring about?  How will it damn the American People?

There is one interesting note of irony here.  The Affordable Health Care Law (Obama Care) was originally a Republican proposal or plan, particularly as it was carried out in Massachusetts during Mitt Romney’s governorship.  It allows everyone to take full responsibility for their own and their family’s health care.  It also allows for an expansion of private business based upon the principles of the free market by having the system run by private enterprise.

The Democratic idea was to set up a system based upon a single payer, the government.  They would run the system as they do Social Security and Medicare.   If the Democrats had pushed this idea through then most of the problems that existed with the present system would not have occurred.  The system would have been government sponsored and government controlled.  It would have included all people in the United States.  Instead the Democrats tried to glean Republican support for the program.  In passing the bill the Democrats did not receive one Republican vote in either House of Congress.

Why then have the Republicans come down so heavily upon a plan which is mostly their own, and which espouses all their principles?  The Republicans are a political party run mostly by mature white males.  They have two major factors against Barak Obama: one is that he is a Democrat and two, that he is black.  This is not necessarily the order of importance of those two factors.

The Washington Republicans in both Houses of Congress agreed in caucus shortly after Obama was elected President in 2008 that they would make him a One-Term President by not supporting anything that he wanted to bring about, that he would be the least successful of all elected presidents.  They publically announced this.

Unfortunately for them the Democrats controlled Congress for the first two years of his first term and they passed, among other reforms, the Affordable Health Care Bill, trying to get Republican support by espousing their basic principles.  The Bill received no Republican support of votes.  In fact it was adamantly opposed by the Republican Party.  When Obama was reelected to a second term the Republicans were stuck with their initial position and they all had to follow the party line and oppose the measure.

This is true even though they probably would have strongly supported the bill under a Republican President.  To me, this is the ultimate irony, having to dramatically oppose what you initially promulgated.

Is this behavior rational?  Does it serve the American people, many of whom are still facing the 2008 Real Estate Crisis, which was brought about by the major banks in the United States, with the support of a former Republican dominated Congress.

The situation is ludicrous.  All the legislators take an oath to follow the Constitution and serve the American people.  Instead the Republicans are ignoring their oath and serving the Party.  Their goal, at any price, is to return ruling power to themselves.  To date they have exacerbated negative economic conditions with the sequester, refused to supply an operating budget to the  United States, and closed the Federal Government for a period of time, costing the economy billions of dollars and, during a time of high unemployment brought about the loss of additional hundreds of thousands of jobs.

If anything, instead of gaining support, by their legislative actions, both on state and Federal levels, the Republican Party has adroitly alienated all sorts of groups of people/voters.  On a Federal level the House of Representatives has refused to pass immigration legislation, arbitrarily continuing the separation of members of families and keeping young people who were brought to the United States as babies or young children from becoming citizens. There was a case of an Arizona police officer discovering that at the age of 42 that she was actually born in Mexico and had to resign from her job.   One of the reasons given for this is that immigrant Latinos tend to vote for Democrats.

The Republicans have alienated a large percentage of the female population, presumably over the issue of birth control, taking Constitutional rights away from women and depriving those that are poor of medical aid by closing their free clinics.  The argument is that this is to stop abortions from being performed.  Somehow or other they have also alienated Asians.  In addition to all of the above the Republicans have attempted to limit the votes of minorities and the aged on the state level where they can, because these people also vote for Democratic candidates.

At the rate they’re going the Republicans may end up with almost no supporters at some point in the near future.  Then, I suppose, they will complain that they are being unfairly picked on.

I suppose if the Republicans can restrict the vote to just evangelicals and the members of the far right they can regain political power for a long period of time.  They may even be able to follow the precepts of someone like Rick Santorum who seemed to want to set up a modern day theocracy where a relatively small group of elderly white men would decide what is morally, ethnically, and legally right for everyone in the nation.

 

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The Weiner Component #55 – The Republican Party & Women

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The major problem in this nation since the Real Estate Debacle of 2008 has been creating enough jobs for all the people in this country who want to be properly employed, to bring the unemployment level from about 7 point something% to 2 ½ to 3-½%.  Instead the Republican Party has had another agenda; they have gone after women, their health choices and their medical facilities.  The excuse being that as good Christians they want to end abortions in the United States.

Shortly before the Elections of 2012 Todd Akin, a Republican who had served in the House of Representatives from 2001 as the candidate from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, while being interviewed during a radio broadcast spoke about “legitimate rape,” implying that there were two kinds of rape, one being legitimate and the other obviously being illegitimate.  He also stated that women who were “legitimately” raped could not conceive, that their bodies automatically shut down.  Consequently any woman who conceived from rape was “illegitimately” assaulted and that is why she conceived.  This was a medical conclusion not shared by the medical profession or any other scientists in the world.  This stupid statement may have been the major cause of his loosing his election and bemoaning the fact that he could no longer afford to make his mortgage payments.

Richard Mourdock came out with an even worse comment prior to the Senatorial Election of 2012 that he also lost.  He stated that God wants raped women to have and raise the child conceived in an act of abject violence.  One would wonder how God communicated this piece of information to Mourdock.

Interestingly Mourdock was State Treasurer of the State of Indiana from 2007 to 2012.  During his second term in this position he misplaced $526 million in wrong bank accounts.  Local government agencies that depended upon this money were forced   to cut services and lay off personnel due to lack of funds.  The balance was eventually located but auditors spent quite a bit of time afterwards looking into state finances to see if additional monies were mishandled.

In the Texas legislature in 2014 Jodie Laubenberg explained to Texas and the world at large that the police had rape kits that cleaned women out and made it impossible for them to have conceived after an incident of rape.  On the basis of that startling fact it was all right to close down existing abortion clinics in the state and limit the number of health facilities available to poor women.  The rape kit is used incidentally to take samples proving that the act of mayhem had occurred; it consists of a package of envelopes for holding the trace evidence.

From where do these people get their scientific knowledge?  Yet these are people in state and Federal legislatures.  These are also some of the people responsible in creating the laws by which this country functions.

Jodie Laubenberg is also responsible for the bill SB5, passed in the Second Special Session of the Texas legislature, which limited abortions to the first twenty weeks after conception and closed most of the few remaining women’s centers in the state that provided free or inexpensive medical care to poor women and also, when necessary, performed abortions.  She is a strong advocate of all birth conceptions being carried to full term even in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother being a major issue.

She has served in the Texas House since 2003 and with two Republican colleagues introduced the bill into the first special session.  This bill was introduced into the special session because it would require a simple majority there rather than the 2/3 vote needed in regular session.  Wendy Davis, a Democratic legislator, filibustered the bill for almost twelve hours and the session ended before it could be passed.  Governor Rick Perry called another special session and the bill was passed there.

Ms. Laubenberg is a strong advocate for all pregnancies to be carried to term but in 2007 she proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would require expectant mothers to wait three months before receiving prenatal care under the state’s Children Health Insurance Program.  Her comment as to why she did it was: “But they’re not born yet.”  In 2007 Laubenberg voted against a bill that would expand children’s health care that received over 88% support from a Republican dominated legislature.  Yet even with these laws Texas has nearly one million children without health care insurance.  Most of these fetuses upon birth will enter a life of abject misery for themselves and their parent(s).

While these are only three cases of Republicans who have loudly verbalized their positions they exemplify where the party stands both on the state and Federal levels.  Virtually all the states where the governors are Republican and the legislatures have a Republican majority have passed similar laws, generally in a secretive fashion, even attaching the abortion section to totally unrelated bills at the last minute so they cannot even be debated.  It is interesting to note that all these laws are similar.  Are they copying one another or is a central conservative group supplying the legislation?   I would suspect the later is true.

In any event, what about the problem of increasing employment in these or other states?  What have these legislators done?  They have actually exacerbated the problem by shrinking state employment and lessened the number of government jobs and then boasted about their accomplishments.  Are they not only insensitive to women and their health needs but also economically ignorant of the effects of their actions?  It would seem that a percentage of the people elected to the state and Federal legislatures are not only anti-government but are working to limit or destroy the welfare of a goodly percentage of the American people.

In the Federal sequester, where the cuts in spending are visible, they have been adjusted so that no one directly sees the shrinkage of government services; the totally invisible programs like nutrition for infants and children of the poor, or “meals on wheels” or any other program which would help “Romney’s 47 percent” have all been invisible, not publicly seen.  All this non-visibility will disappear when the Federal fiscal year ends.  In addition, in the House of Representatives does not act to change the law the sequester will be going into its second year.  There will be deeper cuts as more furloughs are added to much of government employment.

In point of fact the Republicans are not making war on all women but just upon the group Mitt Romney calls the part within the bottom 47 percent, the poor women of this country, who cannot afford proper medical care and who need the female medical centers that also give abortions when necessary.  These are organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Any middle class or richer woman can afford to go where these facilities exist, either in states where the Democratic Party controls either the governorship or the legislature or out of the country where these medical procedures are performed.  For example Jodie Laubenberg could easily afford to do either of these but the poorer woman in Texas living on a minimum wage or a salary slightly above that is stuck where she is living, just barely surviving.  Why have Todd “legitimate rape” Akin or Richard “God wants you to have the baby conceived during rape” Mourdock and most of the rest of the Republican Party hold to this position?  Do they consider themselves moral parents of these women and are punishing them for engaging in sexual behavior or do they think that since these women as a group do not vote that they can push them around freely?

It would seem that the Republican Party is on the one hand trying to create a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, and on the other hand attempting, for what they consider moral reasons, to severely limit the rights and health of women, treating them as second-class citizens.

We might also ask all these legislators: Where are the jobs they were supposed to create?

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The Weiner Component #48 – The Last Harrah

Imperceptibly within the lifetime of most Tea Party and Republican Legislators on both State and Federal levels the demographics of the United States has changed.  We are no longer a WASP nation: White, Anglo Saxon, and Protestant nation.  There are Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Taoists, Confucianists, Latinos, Indians (from both India and the U.S.), and innumerable other groups and sects present in this country now.  The whites are a minority among other minorities and the demographics keep changing with the non-white population being the most prolific.  Aren’t the Republicans and the Tea Party, knowingly or not knowingly, currently making a last stand for the former WASP majority?

During the Presidential Election of 1800 the Federalist incumbent, John Adams, ran against the Democratic Republican, Thomas Jefferson.  It was a dirty election with all sorts of outlandish statements being made.  Jefferson won.  The Federalists were never again able to mount another Presidential election.  In 1812 they disappeared when they backed the wrong side, the British, in the War of 1812.

Is something like that going on now?  Are the Republicans making a last stand?  In Virginia, which is holding a gubernatorial election shortly, in addition to other methods, the Republican controlled government has purged voter registration lists of many supposedly non-legal mostly Democratic voters.  When local registration officials complained that some of the names were on the list in error and wanted to wait until after the election to go over the lists they were told to proceed immediately.  The official who is purging the lists is also the Tea Party Republican who is running for the governorship.

There are innumerable other purges being planned or in operation for the 2014 Midterm Election.  Most of these are a year away and are being dealt with by lawsuits.  Other methods are also being used to reduce the Democratic vote in Republican dominated states in the area of registration and access to the poles.  There seems to be a concerted effort to reduce the number of Democratic voters in red states.  Will they be successful?  That’s an interesting question!

In the Debt Ceiling Crisis the Republicans were continually pushing the envelope.  The far right Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, the day before the Debt Ceiling was to be reached, had ordered the Republicans in the House to vote against any compromise that the Senate Republicans might work out with the Senate Democrats, threatening to back more reactionary Tea Party Republicans in the 2014 Election.  They were pushing any Republican House member who would defy them for faulting on the Debt Ceiling.  This was a move that would not only cost the government and taxpayers many additional billions of dollars, it would also destroy the credibility of the United States both nationally and internationally, a move that would hurt the country for years to come.  This goes beyond spite; it is punishing every citizen because they will not follow the will of the far right.

Presumably most Republicans within the states that have legislative majorities have closed down most women’s medical facilities that provide health care and also some abortions, generally to poor women.  They are adamant about wanting every child possible born.  One the other hand, on both State and Federal levels, these same Republicans are adamant in reducing food stamp and child and infant nutrition programs.  They want all the children born but they will not assume any responsibility for helping to feed or care for them after birth.  This includes children conceived in rape or incest.  They are perfectly willing to have these youngsters grow up in abject poverty without adequate nutrition.

Somehow this seems to be more than a right to life problem.  It would also be a dominance situation.  Since the majority of these legislators are old white males this would be a way of legislating against women and putting them in their place, well below that of the male.

To what extent are these moves by Congress and the red state legislatures affecting the American voting public?  And that would affect those red states like Utah where Federal jobs predominate and where much more money comes from Washington than the state sends there in taxes.  Even those states, which were heavily gerrymandered in 2010 and where the Republicans feel sure of electing their candidates to the House of Representatives, could be turned purple or blue if they are too abused by the Tea Party in Congress.  Most of their people may have voted their prejudices in the past but empty pockets that cannot pay for the needs of the individuals and their families have a way of changing minds.  This is also true of the rights of women.  How much abuse can they take before they rebel with their votes?

In terms of a National Presidential Election the Republicans seem to have forgotten that President Barak Obama won the 2012 Election with well over a four million vote majority and that the House of Representatives got a Republican majority with one million four hundred thousand less votes than the Democrats received.  Is the Midterm Election of 2014 going to be different?  If anything with all the additional abuse, which has been heaped upon all the additional people, the Democratic vote should be greater than in 2012.  It will probably be great enough for the Democrats to take control of the House of Representatives.

In regards to the Presidential Election of 2016 we may have a repeat of the 1964 election where Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Goldwater was the Republican candidate.  He came from the extreme reactionary right of the party.  He received 22% of the vote.  Most moderate Republicans voted for Johnson.  In 2016 people will also have within recent memory the fact of what the far right Republicans have cost them in terms of jobs, money, and unnecessary misery.  In addition the majority of the voters will come from the minority groups that have been either directly or indirectly attacked by the Tea Party and other far right reactionaries.  Whoever the candidate is, Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or another reactionary he will probably receive less than the 22% that Goldwater got in 1964.

The country was saved from defaulting on its debt and received further funding during the last hour of the last day by the actions of the Senate where all the Democrats and a majority of the Republicans voted for it.  In the House of Representatives the majority of the Republicans voted for default but all the Democrats and about 1/4th of the Republicans majority supported it.  The near default cost the Government and the taxpayers approximately twenty-four billion dollars in monies that will mostly be added to the National Debt and, it is estimated, about 240,000 jobs.

Both funding the government and debt default will be coming up again early next year.  The House Republican Tea Partiers have threatened to go to the limit again if they do not get their way.

Do the Tea Party and evangelicals still control the party and the House of Representatives?  If they do attempt this what are their or, for that matter, Republican chances of getting reelected in 2014 at the Midterm Election?  Even if they don’t bring about another disaster early next year what are their election chances in November of 2014.

Are we currently witnessing the Last Harrah of the Republican Party?  It is very possible.

English: Breakdown of political party represen...

 

 

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