This has been a remarkable week for exposing the crazy side of conservative Republicanism.
Suburban women were a significant part of Obama’s winning coalition in 2008 and were also the reason why so many Tea Party Congressmen were elected in 2010. So how are the Republicans doing with this particular voting block this year?
Look no further than Todd Akin the tea-party backed Congressman running against Clare McCaskill in the Missouri senate race. He referenced a loony theory created by Dr. Jack C. Willke, the father of the antiabortion movement, that pregnancy from rape is rare. This theory is important to the pro-life movement because it allows them to argue that the current exclusions of rape from abortion bans are unnecessary. Not only is this whole concept deeply offensive to women across the political spectrum, but the theory has no basis in fact.
It has also shined a light on Paul Ryan’s record regarding women’s rights. Ryan and Akin co-sponsored a bill which attempted to introduce this concept of “legitimate rape”. Ryan’s 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee is the result of his support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Ryan and Akin were also co-sponsors of the Sanctity of Human Life Act which sought to give a fertilized egg the same rights of “personhood” as a human being and would not only ban all abortions but outlaw some forms of birth control.
Ryan has said he will support the Romney position of allowing abortions in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother. Some women are already wondering what would happen if Romney were elected and then could no longer serve?
We are going through the worst drought in 60 years which deeply affects famers. New scientific studies are released almost every week attributing this drought specifically to climate change caused by human activities. Yet, John Shimkus of Illinois who heads the house subcommittee on climate change says there is nothing to worry about. “The earth will end only when God declares it to be over,” he said, and then he went on to quote Genesis at some length.
John Barton is on the same committee. He’s the one who among other things apologized to BP because he felt the Obama administration was being too demanding following the gulf oil spill. Barton cited the Almighty in questioning energy from wind turbines. Careful, he warned, “wind is God’s way of balancing heat.” Clean energy, he said, “would slow the winds down” and thus could make it hotter. “You can’t regulate God!” Barton barked at the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in the midst of discussion on measures to curb global warming.
Michele Bachmann and Jim Inhofe claim that global warming is a hoax. Mr. Inhofe is a senior member on the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.
Romney’s energy plan calls for increased oil drilling and relaxation of EPA regulations on the use of coal. He promises North American energy independence by 2020 (assuming Canada still likes us by then). He depends on a study by the Citigroup for his data but ignores the portion of the study which also recommends dramatic increases in conservation standards in order to achieve energy independence.
Finally Romney also promises freedom from foreign oil and cheaper gas. As long as oil is a globally traded commodity, he can’t deliver on either of these promises unless he is willing to restrict domestic oil exports. He’s said he won’t do that. So though the US balance of trade may improve when the US becomes a net oil exporter, prices will still fluctuate based on international events that could affect supply, and we will still be burning foreign oil.
Jack Kingston of Georgia, a 20-year veteran of the House, is an evolution denier, apparently because he can’t see the indent where his ancestors’ monkey tail used to be. “Where’s the missing link?” he said in 2011. “I just want to know what it is.” He serves on a committee that oversees education.
Romney has taken the position that college students don’t need the loan supports they currently receive. His advice to a college student asking about how they are going to afford the costs of college is that they shop around for a cheaper college or borrow the money from parents and relatives.
Romney does not want this election to turn on whether or not he releases his tax returns. However he continues to assist the Democrats in keeping this issue in the news. The latest evidence of this is from a talk he gave recently to a small business group.
“We’ve got to make it easier for small businesses,” Romney told a crowd of about 300 people at a high-dollar fundraiser in Minnesota. “Big business is doing fine in many places -they get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses. But small business is getting crushed.”
So not only did he echo Obama’s remark regarding the private sector, and effectively take that off the table as a future talking point for his campaign, but one of his recommendation for helping small business appeared to be easier access to tax havens. This remark came on the heels of several reports on Bain’s practice of setting up tax havens for their customers and additional analysis of Romney’s public returns suggesting extensive use of off-shore accounts to avoid US taxes.
Romney has promised to balance the budget, but recently he also said he was going to add back $700B in Medicare spending which the Obama administration had listed as cost savings in the Affordable Care Act. This $700B, as many have already pointed out, is coming from reduced re-imbursements primarily to hospitals who have agreed to the cuts in return for seeing a reduction in their costs for caring for the uninsured. The other major source of that reduction comes from reducing the rates paid to insurance companies for the Medicare Advantage coverage since the Affordable Care Act also addresses many of the gaps in Medicare coverage that the Medicare Advantage plans filled. I’ll address the whole Medicare issue in another more detailed post. But Romney also hasn’t said how he hopes to pay for this additional $700B in spending and still keep his promise to balance the budget and reduce the deficit. His math didn’t work before. It has only gotten worse.
Romney has said that he doesn’t dispute Obama’s citizenship. At the same time, he met with Donald Trump during the primaries and recently made a joke about his own citizenship in a talk in Michigan where he said “no one ever asked to see my birth certificate”.
Romney’s claim that the Obama administration is dismantling welfare work requirements has been widely criticized as a thinly veiled bit a race-baiting. It is factually inaccurate because if anything, the states requesting waivers of the current work rules were attempting to put MORE people to work rather than less. Instead it was an appeal to the portion of the Republican base who distrust an African American President and the motivation of the African Americans who support him.
There are a couple of things going on here.
There is a segment of the Republican party that hold beliefs well outside mainstream America. 34% of conservative Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim. 51% doubt his citizenship. 50% feel that he is a socialist. You can see that extremism in the Republican platform which includes a pledge to pass a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion without exception. It includes the construction of a giant wall along the US border with Mexico, mandatory use of electronic verification by private employers, no support for a path to citizenship, the blocking of funds to universities offering in-state tuition fees to the undocumented, and an end to federal lawsuits against controversial anti-immigrant legislation such as Arizona’s SB1070. There’s even language suggesting an annual audit of the Federal Reserve and a “gold commission” to investigate return to the gold standard.
Romney’s strategy to become President has shifted over the last month. Some pundits say that his selection of Ryan had much more to do with needing to put Wisconsin in play than it did anything else. That’s because many say that Romney can’t win Ohio. Romney has to win one of the rust belt states to have any hope of a November victory and he was willing to put Florida at risk because of Ryan’s unpopular Medicare proposals in order to improve his chances in Wisconsin.
The other shift in Romney’s strategy is that he has refocused his attention on his base. Selecting Ryan made it more difficult for him to win women, but it did guarantee a vigorous attack from Democrats. That attack and Romney’s recent statements on energy, welfare, and birtherism all indicate that the focus of the rest of his campaign is going to be on turning out the Republican base. He wants every Republican voter (including those with loony beliefs) so energized that they will be first in line when the polls open. The added benefit is that a divisive campaign not only gets his base to the polls but also suppresses the less partisan undecided voters who may decide to just stay home because they are so disgusted with the whole process.
This scorched earth strategy may work to get him elected.
It won’t leave much room for him to govern if he is successful.