Archive for the ‘tea party’ category

The Republican Titanic?

April 29, 2016

In the wake of the Acela Primaries, news reports are coalescing around the inevitability of Donald Trump’s nomination. This outcome has been reinforced by the apparent rejection of Ted Cruz’ VP selection of Carli Fiorina, and the seemingly unexplainable coalition with John Kasich. With Trump’s opponents self destructing in real time, who is there to oppose Trump?

Politicians are many things but normally brave, predictable, and principled are heard less and less these days. Republican leaders are in a tough spot. They do not like Trump (and predict bad things in the general election with the Donald at the top of the ticket) but Kasich has not caught American’s interest and Cruz is held in lower esteem than even Trump. So, GOP big whigs don’t want to get caught without a chair when the music finally does stop. QED, hold our noses and get behind Trump.

There are certainly elements of the GOP leadership, including big money, who hold hope that Trump can be defeated in a contested convention. It simply unclear who the GOP could put forward to unite the Party and have a chance to do better in November.

A thoughtful Republican must conclude, one would think, that the Grand Old Party is about to disintegrate. This is probably an exaggeration. But disintegration into two or three large pieces is not only possible but long over due.

The Freedom Coalition (Cruz and Tea Partiers) present an evangelical/fundamentalist, no compromise approach to social values and an austere fiscal policy. Since the rise of the Tea Party, this group has been trying to hijack the Republican Party by claiming to be more Republican than any other Republicans. The views they hold and policies they endorse are backward looking and are not where US demographics are heading. The GOP would be wise to let them go.

Donald Trump followers are people who feel let down by Democrats and assign their economic worries to the “handouts” Democrats call entitlements. This group is largely uninterested in social issues and believes in “live and let live”. For this group the future is all about sensible policy which puts the American dream back in play. The GOP would be wise to build upon this base.

Third largest segment might be the old fashion “establishment” characterized by Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and the Koch Brothers. This group knows best what is in Americans best interest. They also know what’s best for themselves and see any path forward as featuring a tax cut for the wealthy (no matter how a tax cut is packaged). Benign neglect and civility are the hallmarks of this segment.

How might this all play out?

If the world was perfect, the GOP would realize two things. (1) The Cruz followers have no place to go. Their world view is held by an ever decreasing number of people and their no compromise stand will prevent others from joining. (2) The GOP needs to take a drubbing again in the general election in order for it get real on its core beliefs and policies. (For example, person center healthcare (Paul Ryan’s proposal) in place of Obamacare is the same as “the best healthcare money can buy” and that will not fly.)

In this perfect world, the GOP would return bravely to the center (slightly right of center is ok). Repairing and improving the infrastructure which is necessary for jobs and commerce doesn’t know what a Democrat or Republican is. Income inequality is real but the idea that cutting taxes on the wealthy is somehow going to bring about high paying jobs is a cruel pipe dream. And, saber rattling (how the US is going to get tough with other countries) has no place in the real world of globalization, the US is either militarily strong or it isn’t, and oh by the way, that country the US just shook its saber at is a key trading partner).

If the GOP doesn’t think the middle is for them, then the GOP may need to receive a thrashing more than once.

America needs the GOP to regain its senses. There are important issues facing the country which needs a more diverse set of eyes and minds thinking about them. The budget is unbalanced and without more tax revenues, the only path to a balanced budget is by decreasing government spending… which moves quickly to reductions in entitlements as well as defense spending. Cutting entitlements and not defense spending at a time of income inequality is a prescription for social unrest.

There is a chance that the GOP can escape the Titanic’s fate but only if they move away from the destructive policies of the Freedom Coalition/Cruz faction. If the GOP doesn’t move, the majority of current GOP members will.

The Dark Side Of Cruz and Trump

April 8, 2016

With New York as the next big primary delegate prize, an amazing yet frightening picture is emerging. Main stream Republicans are racing to support Ted Cruz in order to block Donald Trump from gaining the nomination.

Conservatives, that is real conservatives like Ted Cruz see the US quite differently from most everyone else. These conservatives seem to lack any capacity to comprehend income inequality and the hardships it brings to so many. Getting “government” out of the way and getting “tough” on undocumented workers will reignite America’s economic growth, they say. Hmmm.

Getting government out of the way, of course, includes repealing Obamacare, eliminating government departments (like Department of Education), and doing away with the “inconvenient” regulations which provide the rules businesses must follow. Cruz promises that jobs will grow practically on every tree when he is President. He neglects, however, to say how much these jobs will pay, nor why Americans will line up for the jobs currently performed by soon to be deported undocumented workers.

Another GOP theme this year deals with law enforcement. The conservative candidates promise to have law enforcement’s back. They point a finger at those politicians who have supported careful reviews of incidents where excessive force was suspected of having been used. For Ted Cruz, it is black and white, police are your friends, suspects are the enemy.

Exactly how much of Cruz’ campaign rhetoric he actually believes, of course, is debatable. That Cruz is a calculating, mean spirited, ego centric demagogue seems pretty clear. His policy statements could be self serving and aimed to simply build a support base. But there is no reason to believe that a President Cruz would walk away from his pronouncements on Obamacare, religious freedoms, immigration, and “neoconservative” foreign policy.

Donald Trump is different.

Trump has said some outrageous things. For example, black mailing Mexico in order for Mexico to pay for building a wall along the border, or stopping entry into the US for anyone who is Muslim (whether US citizen or not), or unilaterally renegotiating trade deals involving China, all masquerade as solutions designed to improve a hurting middle class.

In reality Trump’s proposals will just create more problems… if they were actually implemented… And there in lies the difference.  Trump is highly likely to walk away from these extreme views.  He is a business man after all.

Both candidates have spewed half baked ideas which are economically foolish and values wise bankrupt, but one candidate is backed by Americans who believe in Tea Party conservatism and the other who is backed by Americans who are sick and tired of income inequality, don’t know its cause, and see Trump as the only candidate who promises to try and rebalance the playing field.

What a mess.

For those who always look for a bright spot, this current GOP front runners situation presents a potential which might not be obvious. There is no longer a majority and genuine Republican Party in America. The Cruz segment, Tea Party or Freedom Coalition members, espouse economics which are dead ended mixed in with quasi religious values which allow an individual to pick and choose who they wish to disadvantages… with a clear conscience.

Relatively speaking more moderate GOP members find themselves handicapped with unattractive policies necessary to maintain their coalitions majority and looking at the wrong side of demographic trends. In America, the voices of gays, Hispanics, and women see the Cruz type Republicans unfavorably and will express this dissatisfaction at the polls.

For those who look for what can go wrong, Democrats without a strong and viable opposition represents only a slightly better economic policy option and within a short period of time could drive the ship of State onto the rocks.

But given the current candidates, is there really any other choice?

John Boehner’s “Courageous” Decision?

September 26, 2015

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced his resignation as Speaker and also from the House effective the end of October. The announcement surprised Washington and confused the world outside the Beltway. Why did he resign when the fight was still in progress?

Several reasons have already been given and almost certainly more theories will be put forth. From many of the new Tea Party members, the words are “good riddance”. Others say no compromise within the GOP is possible, so a new leader is ok. Still others lament the loss of a realist. But why did he resign?

Opponents had vowed to unseat him as Speaker and after a distinguished career this would have been a sad way to end ones time in office. Others were sure Boehner could survive any challenge and this is what Boehner himself professed. So why did he resign?

In Belgium, whenever the Parliament approves a spending project for the Flemish speaking region (the northern part), there is a equal appropriation which calls for spending in the south (the French part). In many regards this is what Federal Governments are about. How to distribute general taxes (or debt obligations) in a manner which keeps the peace. Most of Boehner’s opponents are fundamentally against government spending and so an incentive of money to their district has much less attraction.

Someday on “60 Minutes” John Boehner may say why he resigned. He may say he was sick and tired dealing with a faction within his own party which preferred legislative action hurtful to the GOP and to the Country (despite their protestations to the opposite). Most likely Boehner resigned in frustration. Everything he had learned about Government did not hold with this crop of Representatives. Boehner simply could not get anything accomplished which he could support. At some point he said I am not waiting until these Tea Party Representatives grow up.

Boehner’s future is nothing we should worry about. If he chooses to work, he can make a fortune as a lobbyist. He could just as easily earn an handsome income as a University President or a senior officer of a Financial institution. With Boehner’s connections and experience, he will not starve.

The question of whether Boehner’s resignation signals a courageous decision is quite another matter. While the GOP, as a whole, has stood for privilege and not the common person for many years, our system requires two healthy and constructive parties. One party’s policies should stand ready to offset the poor consequences of the other. Once in power, however, a party should be allowed to implement its policies and after a period of time, voters should decide to continue or switch to the opposition. This no longer happens in Washington.

Lack of action might seem acceptable except that essential services are being treated the same as controversial ones like abortion. If Boehner resigned because he could not figure out how to bring the House back into responsible functioning, I would say this was a great act of courage. If Boehner just found a way to satisfy his frustration (and maybe disgust), then regardless of how understandable, resignation is not very courageous.