Aftermath: House Republicans Say "Uncle"
As if enough already hasn't been said: "With tea party-backed first-termers calling the shots, House Republicans snatched political defeat from the jaws of victory in a year-end showdown over Social Security payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits. This time, they pushed the country to the brink -- and wound up blinking. 'In the end House Republicans felt like they were re-enacting the Alamo, with no reinforcements and our friends shooting at us,' said veteran Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas."
Still, the political lessons remain for all of us. Mostly, a small minority of ideologically Conservative and legislatively inexperienced Republicans have had their way for most of the year. Maybe they were spoiled and shouldn't have tried to steal just one piece of candy.
"The House speaker’s handling of the payroll tax standoff . . . has been the embodiment of impotent leadership. But then, that’s the story of his year-long tenure as speaker: When it comes to deciding what direction the GOP conference will take, Boehner is the one taking orders, not giving them. This was painfully evident earlier this week, when the payroll tax impasse turned into a full-scale crisis after rank-and-file House Republicans decided they couldn’t live with the bipartisan compromise struck by the Senate. "
The evidence points to both the Hyper-Conservative freshmen and Eric Cantor. So often, it's looked like Mr. Cantor has stabbed Mr. Boehner in the back -- and Boehner has done nothing to change the balance of power. Leads us to think he's powerless.
Facts vs. Lies
Big lies numbers 9 and 10, from Paul Abrams, a Board member of the Washington Progress Alliance, the Women's Bioethics Project, the Apollo Alliance (Washington State) and the Economic Opportunity Institute:
"9. All the big money behind right-wing politics -- big oil, the Kochs, big banks -- and their lackeys in Congress really care about jobs, social security, Medicare, and so forth, honest to goodness they do. Their political ads will proclaim in pious platitudes their deep care and concern for these middle-class values. PaulitiFact recalls Governor Schwarzeneggar's speech when they tried to overturn California's environmental regulations: 'Does anyone believe, in their dirty oil hearts, that they are spending all this money in the campaign because they want to preserve your jobs?' His housekeeper was not the only thing Ahnold nailed."
"10. PolitiFact's choice of Democrats' characterization of the Ryan budget as 'ending Medicare' as the lie of the year. OK, OK, so PaulitiFact is taking a swipe at a competitor. But, truly, calling the truth a lie provides grist for the liars to claim that it is a lie, perpetuating the scam. PaulitiFact cannot grasp how a change from a defined and guaranteed benefit (aka 'Medicare') to a defined (and inadequate) contribution is not ending Medicare. Moreover, 10 percent of the Medicare population consumes 67 percent of its costs -- how will seniors in that 10 percent even get coverage? (Although it is of no benefit to us, PaulitiFact offers PolitiFact a little Christmasy advice: be more like Santa; don't just make up a list, make sure you check it twice.)"
Well done. I especially like the simple statement, with which I agree: "how a change from a defined and guaranteed benefit (aka 'Medicare') to a defined (and inadequate) contribution is not ending Medicare."
MORE: "The claim that the Ryan plan would 'end Medicare' is at least defensible, and nobody denies that the plan would end Medicare as we know it (that's the idea) [emphasis added]. But the main thing here is that, whether they realize it or not, Politifact and the other fact-checking outfits rarely confine themselves to checking facts. They're judging claims purportedly based on facts, or interpretations of facts. Not the same."
This, actually, is a helpful distinction when studying politics and the practice of politics. "Spin" often is king. And spin comes from those twists and turns, those interpretations which "make sense" -- like creating reasonable doubt or plausible deniability. It's subtle, but people's prior opinions (and too often inadequate education) cause them to have biases or tendencies which politicians easily use to their own ends. We all need to double check ourselves -- whether we agree or disagree with a politician. Check for which buttons are being pushed.
The Republican Reality-Free Zone