For conservatives, this is a go-for-broke election. They and a Republican Party now under their control hope to eke out a narrow victory in November on the basis of a quite radical program that includes more tax cuts for the rich, deep reductions in domestic spending, big increases in military spending and a sharp rollback in government regulation. In the process, the right hopes to redefine middle-of-the-road policies as “left wing,” thereby altering the balance in the American political debate.
What should alarm both liberals and moderates is that this is the rare election in which such a strategy has a chance of succeeding. Conservatives have their opening not because the country has moved far to the right but courtesy of economic discontent, partisan polarization and the right’s success in defining Obama as standing well to the left of where he actually does.
Enbridge, a beleaguered Canadian oil pipeline company, has spilled more than 50,000 gallons of light crude oil in rural Wisconsin — shortly after the company said it had implemented safety reforms after a massive 2010 spill in Michigan.
“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions.”—
Senator Ron Johnson, the Tea Party favorite from Wisconsin, spoke for the Republican Party (and many Democrats) when he said that limiting high-capacity magazines would infringe on a basic right. “When you try and do it, you restrict our freedom,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Freedom to do what, precisely? To fire off 100 rounds without reloading?
“What matters at the end of the day is not the small things, not trivial things which so often consume us in our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another. It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose; that’s what matters.”—President Obama, speaking about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.
“[T]his promise of free voter ID is a mirage. In the real world, poor voters find shuttered offices, long drives without cars, and with spotty or no bus service, and sometimes prohibitive costs. For these Americans, the promise of our democracy is tangibly distant. It can be measured in miles.”—Brennan Center for Justice, The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification
While some governors and lawmakers are searching for new revenue sources, others are using the downturn as an excuse to end a long tradition of states being the final backstop for society’s neediest.
Over the last year, for example, eight states have cut or eliminated cash welfare payments to their poorest residents. It happened last week in Pennsylvania, where 61,000 residents — almost all of whom are disabled and poor — were told that they would abruptly lose their $200 monthly general assistance payments, all to save $150 million a year. Our hands are tied by a tightening budget, welfare officials told astonished recipients, though Gov. Tom Corbett’s hands didn’t seem restrained when he handed out $300 million in business tax cuts earlier this month.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has cut hundreds of millions from education, but when the state found itself with a $235 million surplus a few weeks ago, he announced that it would all go into a rainy-day fund, doing nothing to deal with rising classroom sizes. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage — who compared the health care reform law to the Holocaust — signed a budget bill in May that will reduce or eliminate existing Medicaid coverage for 21,000 people.
Charles Pierce rediscovered this Sports Illustrated article from 2001 about Romney’s time as president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. It turns out, Romney isn’t always opposed to federal handouts, at least when they can be used to help his friends:
Is this a great country or what? A millionaire developer wants a road built, the federal government supplies the cash to construct it. A billionaire ski-resort owner covets a choice piece of public land. No problem. The federal government arranges for him to have it. Some millionaire businessmen stand to profit nicely if the local highway network is vastly improved. Of course. The federal government provides the money. How can you get yours, you ask? Easy. Just help your hometown land the Olympics. Then, when no one’s looking, persuade the federal government to pay for a good chunk of the Games, including virtually any project to which the magic word Olympics can be attached. For the past few years, while attention was focused on the Great Olympic Bribery Scandal-in which Salt Lake City boosters dispensed as much as $7 million in gifts, travel, scholarships, medical care, jobs and other goodies to IOC members (and their relatives and companions) to ensure that Utah’s capital city would be chosen to host the 2002 Winter Games-private and public interests have siphoned an estimated $1.5 billion out of the U.S. Treasury, all in the name of those same Olympics.
“Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together—-just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”—E.B. White, 1971. (via tofias)
“When did we become a country where the millionaires are jealous of the people on food stamps? A country that thinks teachers and fire fighters are soaking us dry? A country that thinks the richest who are paying the lowest taxes in 80 years are the ones being beaten up?”—Who Wants Free Stuff? | Eclectablog (via section9)