The Right on the Right

GOP madness on display

By , Published: September 17

Five years after the onset of the worst financial collapse in our history, we still have not recovered. President Obama used the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse to remind Americans of the “perfect storm” he inherited, and of the steps he took to save the economy from free fall, rescue the auto industry and save the financial system.He would understandably like a little credit for the 7.5 million new private sector jobs, the passage of comprehensive health-care reform and the changes in the tax code that left those earning over $450,000 paying a bit more in taxes.

Much was done, but in the end, far too little. The economy has not recovered the jobs that were lost in the Great Recession. The rate of job creation has barely been able to keep up with new entrants into the labor force. Over 20 million people are still in need of full-time work. The top 1 percent has captured virtually all of the rewards of growth coming out of the collapse, while the majority of Americans have been left out of the recovery. Wages for most Americans aren’t keeping up with costs. The big banks are more concentrated and larger than ever. Derivatives remain a largely unregulated weapon of financial mass destruction.In his statement Monday, President Obama acknowledged this reality. The trends that were undermining the middle class before the Great Recession, he noted, have grown worse since the downturn. “We’ve cleared away the rubble,” the president said, but we have yet to build “a new foundation” for growth, good jobs and widely shared prosperity.

Obama used this backdrop to set the terms of the coming debate on the budget. The Republican right is once more gearing up to hold America hostage, threatening to shut down the government or default on our debts to get its way.

The House and Senate Republican leaders want more deep cuts in spending that will cost jobs, and cut investments vital to our future in everything from education to R&D. For the tea-party right led by Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, that’s not sufficient. Backed by deep-pocket outside groups like the Club for Growth, they are calling for shutting down the government unless Obamacare is defunded.

This is simple madness. President Obama once again laid out out a common sense, modest agenda on the budget. Make investments in education and infrastructure vital to our competitiveness. Don’t let immediate cuts sabotage our faltering recovery. Get our books in order with a balanced plan that combines asking corporations and the rich to pay their fair share with cutting wasteful programs and bloat.

House Republicans spurn these proposals out-of-hand. They want deeper cuts, all from domestic programs like education and clean water. They want more, not less money for the military. They oppose any increase in taxes, even objecting to closing down the tax dodges that reward companies for stashing money and reporting profits abroad. They want to repeal Obamacare without replacing it. They even are moving a bill to cut billions out of food stamps, a program that protects families in trouble from going hungry. And they are so divided among themselves that they have rejected their own leadership’s proposals to keep government open.

To date, Republicans have gotten the best of each of the budget crises they have manufactured. They’ve succeeded in slashing government spending at a time when the economy needs a boost. They preserved most of the Bush tax cuts, still skewed to the affluent. They’ve protected the subsidies and tax dodges of the rich and corporations, insuring a continued flow of money to their coffers.

But this week also marked the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. And the realization that, as Elizabeth Warren put it, the rich and powerful “rig the rules” is increasingly widespread. As the liberal revolt against the potential nomination of Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve revealed, President Obama faces increasing pressure from a wing of the Democratic Party no longer willing to sign onto the conservative economic policies of Wall Street.

President Obama announced that he would not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling. That he would not sign on to the delay or defunding of health-care reform. That he wanted the harsh and mindless across-the-board cuts known as sequestration repealed in exchange for a longer-term, balanced program combining cuts in wasteful subsidies and revenues from shutting down tax dodges. This time his “bright red lines” might mean something, because increasingly restive progressive legislators in the House and Senate will hold him to his promise.

Read more from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s archive or follow her on Twitter.

9/17/2013 6:51 AM PDT
Conservatives on today’s GOP:Bob Dole (R), Presidential nominee: “I think they ought to put a sign on the National Committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agenda.”

 Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) “You can’t come here and just say, if we don’t get our way we’re going to burn the place down.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) : “There are two things they all agree on: you can’t shut down the government, and you can’t default on the debt,  At some point, leaders have to lead.”

Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R):“Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs, because those voters feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome in our party.”

Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindall (R): “We must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.”

Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R):” “There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) “Many in this group didn’t come to power to get things done. They came to power to keep things from getting done.”

Newt Gingrich (R), former House Speaker: “We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to learn anything.  We have to do the homework.  This is a very deep problem.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.)As governors, as state leaders, we’re more optimistic than our friends in Washington. We’re not just against something. We’re laying out a plan, laying out a vision. You don’t just sit back and nick the other guy — you have to lay out a plan.”  

Rick Santorum, one time front-running presidential candidate (R): “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-GA)“The demographics race we’re losing badly, We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”


“We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who we run in my view.”David Frum (R), former speechwriter for President Bush: “When did the GOP lose touch with reality?” 

Michael Steele (R) former RNC chair:

“You can perform an autopsy until you’re blue in the face. But if the people you’re trying to reach have no faith or trust in the words you are saying, it doesn’t matter.”

“We need to be saying: ‘We respect, yes, the rule of law. But we also respect your constitutional right to vote,’” he said. “We just can’t sit back and rely on, ‘Oh, gee, you know, we freed the slaves.’”

Steve Schmidt, (R) John McCain’s 08 campaign manager: “[House Republicans] are totally insulated from public opinion on this because of redistricting,”

Michael Steele (R) former RNC chair:“You can perform an autopsy until you’re blue in the face. But if the people you’re trying to reach have no faith or trust in the words you are saying, it doesn’t matter.”

“We need to be saying: ‘We respect, yes, the rule of law. But we also respect your constitutional right to vote,’” he said. “We just can’t sit back and rely on, ‘Oh, gee, you know, we freed the slaves.’”

Steve Schmidt, (R) John McCain’s 08 campaign manager: “[House Republicans] are totally insulated from public opinion on this because of redistricting,”

Ray Lahood (R) former congressman and Transportation secretary: “We will not win another presidential election as Republicans,” he said, “unless we do something to fix the broken immigration system…“this is going to be the death knell for Republicans winning national elections for decades.”““What I believe it is,” he said, “is a small group, maybe 30-40 in the House, who have come here to do nothing — and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve done nothing. They’ve accomplished nothing.?.?. They didn’t come here to vote for solutions. They came here to do nothing, and they stand in the way of the president and his agenda. But also I would say they stand in the way of getting a bipartisan immigration bill passed or a bipartisan farm bill passed.”

Ed Rodgers (R) GOP strategist and columnist:“I feel for Republican members who have been put in this position. But these bad choices are of our own making…Our inability to be constructive opposition is not the president’s fault.

“We come off like we’re angry and frustrated that more of our fellow Americans aren’t angry and frustrated,” said a senior Mitt Romney campaign official who asked not to be named.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger  ((R )  “If we respect the Constitution, and we do, we respect that we’re only one-third of the government and you’re not going to get your way all the time. .?.?. We’ve got to get away from being the guys that scream and yell on cable TV.”

Peggy Noonan, Reagan confidant and conservative columnist,called elements of the GOP a“freak-show” and suggested candidates need to “kick away from that, start a new chapter, begin an appeal to the sane center…Republicans took some wrong turns, and they know it. Centrists and independents know it, too.”

Kenneth Duberstein, Ronald Reagan’s former chief-of-staff, called the Republican’s most recent political campaign  a “reality show.”

Rep. Doug Cox (R-OK)“What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)“Clearly the economy is on everyone’s minds, we’re seeing very stagnant job numbers, confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we’re going to have a debate on rape and abortion. The stupidity is simply staggering.”

Olympia J. Snowe (R), former Senator from Maine:“If you can’t make that important pivot to what Republicans stand for and how they’ve gotten the message, I think there will be even more damage to the Republican Party.”

“Republicans continue to act as an opposition party and not as a governing party, which is congruent with increasing parliamentary behavior among the electorate and their elected officials,”said one former Republican lawmaker. “This is not a path to a majority. House Republicans need to recognize their destinies are intertwined.”

Richard Posner, Reagan-Appointed Judge to the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals:  “I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.”  

Senator Richard M. Burr (R) North Carolina has called  “[The Republican’s strategy of shutting down the government or forcing it into default] the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” 

Tony Fratto (R), deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush: “If you put Trump on TV, interview him, cover his clown act then you are part of it, too —  right there under the big tent yourself.”

Charles Krauthammer, far-right columnist:“…there’s no principle at stake here. This is about tactics. If I thought this would work, I would support it. But I don’t fancy suicide. It has a tendency to be fatal.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue: “We’ve got a lot of new people pounding their chest,”adding a warning to conservative holdouts that if they didn’t raise the debt ceiling, “We’ll get rid of you.”

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