Friday, August 24, 2012

GOP Demonization Index soars again

Speaking at a New York fundraiser heavy with basketball stars on Wednesday, Obama ventured a snapshot of how far the GOP has moved to the right during his presidency:
This is probably the most consequential election of my lifetime, and in a lot of ways, it’s more consequential than the one in 2008.... back in 2008, we were running against a Republican candidate who believed in some basic things that I believe in -- believed that money shouldn’t dominate politics; believed in immigration reform, that we should give every young person who’s here a chance to become an American and contribute to this country; somebody who believed in climate change and believed in science.
Those were the days, my friend...when the incentives were different.  McCain was running in the face of the second wave of a Democratic tide. Democrats had won control of the House and Senate in 2006; Bush's approval rating was in the low 30s; a monster recession was taking hold at the tail end of eight years of GOP rule; the Supreme Court had recently (2006) ruled that it was within the EPA's mandate to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; and the GOP had not yet given up on winning a respectable share (and working toward an eventual majority) of the Hispanic vote.

Four years later, with Democrats left holding the bag after the financial crisis (or most of the bag; voters primarily credit/blame the president for economic conditions), and with the electoral tide having turned in 2010, Republicans perceive massive incentives to continue demonizing everything Obama has done or advocated.  And stepping back, as Obama invites us to do above, it occurs to me that the list of what they've demonized has swelled, not only over the past three and half years, but over the last few weeks.

We're relatively long since used to stimulus being a dirty word, and universal healthcare, and any form of immigrant "amnesty," and any restraint on drilling for oil or gas, and food stamps or unemployment insurance in tough times.  But now, joining the shitlist in attack ads and Romney speeches this long hot summer, we have state waivers from federal regulations, Medicare spending cuts (for providers and insurers), and the  across-the-board 'sequestered' spending cuts forced on Obama last summer under threat of debt ceiling default by the extremist GOP House (or rather, the half of those cuts slated for defense).

Having already foreclosed the possibility for meaningful action not only on climate control, health insurance, infrastructure, and tax reform that includes revenue increases, Republicans are now poisoning the well for about $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over ten years written into law since 2010 -- $700 billion for Medicare, $500-odd billion for defense. 

That leaves them with essentially no policy proposals except trillions more in tax cuts mainly for the wealthy and a purported meat ax to take to domestic spending outside Medicare.

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