For a week, the eyes of all Americans, from politicians in Washington to private citizens in every state in the nation, have been focused on television sets watching the disaster of Harvey unfold. The scale of the devastation pushed other stories, if not out of sight, at least from center stage. For the moment, we[…]
RINOcracy.com was founded in May, 2013 as a voice within the Republican Party, albeit a voice dissenting from party orthodoxy on some significant issues. The 2013 “Welcome to RINOcracy,” which appears below, explained the origin of the name, some of my political background and offered brief thoughts on several issues. Now, however, things have changed.[…]
In Blog No. 115 we suggested that, even if Donald Trump persisted in his refusal to disclose his tax returns, he should be pressed to disclose key information from the returns. An excellent column in Friday’s New York Times by James Stewart makes just that point: “Keep the Returns, Trump; Just Give Us a Few Figures.” As Stewart put it:
So just give us this: your adjusted gross income and actual federal taxes paid for the last five years, certified by your accountants. That’s a total of 10 numbers, which would fit on a single page.
Those are numbers any taxpayer can understand. They wouldn’t tell the I.R.S. anything it doesn’t already know.
And while they wouldn’t answer many of the questions that have swirled around your finances, they would lay to rest once and for all the most basic question: How much, if anything, do you pay in federal taxes?
RINOcracy.com has not always been an unalloyed admirer of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nevertheless, credit must be given where credit is due, although being named a RINO Hero is probably an honor that neither would relish. In any case, both gentlemen deserve credit for acting with skill and courage to avoid a “crisis” over the increase in the debt ceiling. As RINOcracy.com had previously noted, the increase in the debt ceiling was inevitable, but it was not at all clear that it would be accomplished with a minimum of embarrassment to Congressional Republicans. Moreover, as events unfolded, the seemingly irrepressible Ted Cruz did his best to create that embarrassment. […]
It is an overused cliché to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Yet how better to describe the actions of the House Republicans in insisting that they must “get something” in order to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling? It is a demand that has the intellectual gravitas of a child refusing to eat her spinach unless she is given a cookie. […]
The budget agreement reached between Senator Murray and Rep. Ryan meets the most important precept of medical ethics: Primum non nocere (First, do no harm). The agreement, if approved by the House and Senate, will avoid the harm to the country that would follow from another government shutdown. It will also avoid the harm to the Republican Party from yet another demonstration of inability to function in a divided government. […]
Schadenfreude: a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.
Republicans may be forgiven if they have indulged themselves in a bit of Schadenfreude over the continuing debacle of Obamacare. To be sure, that debacle could hardly have come at a more opportune time. The furies unleashed by the website failures and the cancellation of insurance policies served to soften, if not erase, the public disdain for the Republicans’ recent antics: the ill-advised gambits with the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. Nevertheless, those furies, and the agonies they have produced in Democrats, may prove to be ephemeral. A diet of Schadenfreude does not provide much nutrition, and it surely is not a policy. […]
Senator Mike Lee has not been a favorite of RINOcracy.com. Most particularly, we strongly disapproved of his effort, along with that of Ted Cruz, to seek the defunding of Obamacare at the price of a government shutdown. Nevertheless, we salute Senator Lee for his willingness to address an issue that most Republicans have tended to tiptoe away from: income inequality. While the subject is often raised by liberals, a typical Republican response has been to mutter a complaint about “class warfare” and attempt to change the subject.
Senator Lee, however, has introduced legislation intended to mitigate economic hardship through tax reform, and it has drawn favorable comment from several quarters. Nevertheless, as constructive as his proposal may be, Lee’s recognition of our underlying problems and the need for action–by Republicans–may be even more important. Speaking in September to the American Enterprise Institute, Lee’s remarks are worth quoting at some length: […]
Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan have drawn the short straws: they chair the Conference Committee that is charged with reaching a budget agreement that will avert a second round of crises over a government shutdown (January 15) or a collision with the debt ceiling (February 7). The entire committee, totaling 29, consists of the entire Senate Budget Committee (12 Democrats and 10 Republicans) and 7 House members (4 Republicans, 3 Democrats).
No one, it is fair to say, is overly optimistic about the outcome. If the Grinch does not steal Christmas, he will be hovering not far away. It is a positive sign that Senator McConnell has expressly ruled out the use of a shutdown, and by implication a threat of default, as bargaining chips. As he put it rather colorfully, “One of my favorite sayings is an old Kentucky saying, ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.’ ” Nevertheless, Ted Cruz and his cohorts in the Senate, and the Tea Party Oozlums in the House appear to have an appetite for mule kicks that is not easily satisfied. Moreover, the Conference Committee itself is hardly lacking in gritty conservatives: 9 of the 14 Republicans, including Ryan, voted against the bill that ended the just concluded crisis. (As noted in a prior blog, however, their votes were “free” in the sense that they were not required for the passage of the bill and may not reflect a tolerance for shutdown or default.) […]
The latest episode of our Washington soap opera descended into self-parody, recalling Carol Burnett’s classic “As the Stomach Turns.” Faithful to the formula, the episode ended with the major characters surviving but faced with dire predicaments just ahead. So it was with the bill finally passed by the Senate and House to end the government shutdown and the threat of imminent default. The crisis is over, but not for long: the operation of the government has been continued only through January 15 and the debt ceiling suspended only through February 7.
The most popular phrase to describe Wednesday night’s Congressional action is “kicking the can down the road.” If the beloved William Safire were still among us, he would no doubt enlighten us as to the origin of what has now become a cliché. In Safire’s absence, Timothy Noah of New Republic used Nexis to trace the term back to arms control discussions in the eighties. Noah suggested that kicking the can down the road had not been a bad idea in the earlier context and, writing last January, argued that it might even be the best approach to the budget deficit. Indeed, even in the most recent crisis it was certainly preferable to allowing a government default or even prolonging further the shutdown. But surely enough is enough. Lurching from crisis to crisis is not only a distraction from addressing other important issues, it also deepens public cynicism, and exacts a toll on the economy when we can ill-afford such a burden. That toll could be dubbed most fittingly “The Tea Party Tax” (or in the lexicon of RINOcracy.com, “The Oozlum Tax”). […]