America has been stuck in a serious economic rut since the summer of 2008. To use President Obama’s metaphor, the George W. Bush administration and his anti-tax, anti- regulation policies and allies drove this country into a ditch. One of the big reasons we cannot get out of the ditch is because instead of pushing or at least getting out of the way the Republicans insist on sitting in the car adding weight to the problem instead of putting their shoulders into the solution and adding their weight to a remedial effort.
In the 111th Congress the Republicans were in the minority in both chambers. Then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was able to pass a lot of good legislation only to see it die in the Senate. Then as now, the Republicans did not have a majority in the Senate but they had enough votes to filibuster and obstruct. They proved to be very capable at those tasks. Over 300 pieces of House passed legislation died in the Senate. The filibuster was employed by the Republicans in record fashion. In the 2010 mid-terms the Republicans made significant gains. They took control of the House and elected the most Republicans to State Legislatures since 1928. In January of this year the 112th Congress convened with the stated goal of making Barack Obama a one term President.
With all this newly gained political power what have the Republicans done? You would expect that they would have swiftly passed legislation that would have put millions of Americans back to work thereby illustrating that their policies were superior and leaving those millions of Americans indebted to them in future elections. No, instead the Republicans went to work on advancing their self-serving political agenda, placating their interest groups, serving their financial masters and solving phantom problems. They were doing the equivalent of a homeowner washing his car that he just drove home from the car wash in the driveway of his burning home.
Last Thursday the House was a prime example. Majority Leader Eric Cantor publically stated that the House was too busy to take up The American Jobs Act. What were they too busy doing? Thursday was devoted to the seventh anti-abortion bill this session. Not only is the vast majority of the bill redundant and therefore unnecessary it is widely considered to be D.O.A. in the Senate and the President has already said that if it hits his desk he will veto it. The 112th House has given us seven anti-abortion bills and no jobs bill. Is there any wonder why I call the 112th Congress the Do Harm Congress?
At the State level there has been a concerted and coordinated effort at voter suppression in the name of protecting the integrality of elections from voter fraud. There is just one flaw with that argument – the Republicans have been unable to prove any instances of anything remotely resembling widespread voter fraud. A few months ago I attended a town hall meeting held by North Carolina Tea Party/Republican State Representative Glen Bradley. When quizzed about his support for the then pending voter ID legislation he cited voter fraud. When asked about how widespread it was he simply replied, “Well, we don’t know.” That is correct Glen – you don’t know, and you don’t know because it is virtually non-existent. You do know there are a lot of unemployed in North Carolina, why not do something about the real problem? Could it be that President Obama only won North Carolina by a little over 14,000 votes in 2008 and if you can suppress voter turnout his chances of a repeat victory in 2012 are greatly diminished? Ironically the highest profile case of recent voter fraud involves probable Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Several states have introduced various forms of legislation banning Sharia Law. Sharia law does not exist in any State or municipality in this country. In fact in the case of one of the two long debunked examples the right wing likes to use the municipality in question doesn’t exist.
Florida seemingly has turned into an insane asylum since the 2010 election. Under rookie Tea Party/Republican Governor Rick “the fifth” Scott legislation has been passed requiring drug testing for many state employees and those receiving state aid. If you add the people failing the test to the people who opted not to take the test, (I’m giving the Governor the benefit of the doubt that all those people would have failed), the rate of drug use in the general population is still significantly higher. This means that it is costing the State of Florida a lot of money to administer the program and the tests for little or no return. Rick Scott happens to own a company that does drug testing so he is getting a return on the investment he made in his campaign by chasing phantom problem at the expense of the taxpayers of Florida.
The Florida zaniness isn’t limited to Tallahassee. In Pinellas County they will stop fluoridating the water come the first of the year thanks to the newly elected Tea Party/Republican County Commission. The Tea Party members who were present for the vote were quoted by the St. Petersburg Times and U.S.A. Today with comments likening fluoridation of the water to Soviet and Nazi plots to, “Dumb down” the population. Now I guess I know why I moved from Pinellas County to Hernando County when I built a home in Florida.
The bottom line here is that there are real and visible problems in America today. Primary among them is jobs. With that come unemployment, underemployment and the inequity in taxation and opportunity. Address that problem, not some diversionary problem that doesn’t exist. The let the economy sink and blame it on Obama strategy isn’t going to work. Democrats and progressives will hold you accountable. I for one promise that, and my promise isn’t a phantom!
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