Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Republicans appear worried, but we best be as well

Little signs here and there seem to reveal that Republican state legislators are a bit worried about the political fallout from the Walker/Ryan bold plans for America and our state. Folks are getting a little feisty out there, shouting down the great deficit hero, refusing to allow the deceptions and obfuscations to go unchallenged. He came to lecture, and often got lectured.

Seems these bold plans to address the deficit not by returning tax rates to something more sane (like those of the 60s and 70s, or even just before the budget-busting Bush tax cuts), not by cutting defense and getting out of 2-3 wars loathed by the vast majority of the population and taking an enormous toll on soldiers and their families, not by cutting subsidies for ethanol and fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, but by attacking social programs that impact the most vulnerable populations - seems these plans are not exactly popular.  Medicare?  Yikes, Repubs, you must be reeling at the poll numbers!!!

Check this out from Ezra Klein of the Washington Post:

You know what’s not popular? Reforming Medicare such that beneficiaries “receive a check or voucher from the government each year for a fixed amount they can use to shop for their own private health insurance policy.” According to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 65 percent of Americans oppose the idea -- about the same number who dismissed it in 1995. And if they’re told that the cost of private insurance for seniors is projected to outpace the cost of Medicare insurance for seniors -- which is exactly what CBO projects -- more than 80 percent of Americans oppose the plan.

...Cutting Medicare polls poorly even if you leave out the details. Almost 80 percent of Americans oppose Medicare cuts in the abstract, while 70 percent oppose Medicaid cuts.

Paul Ryan just received a lesson in democracy from a lot of older folks and many conservatives whom he forgot still read newspapers, follow politics, and are well-informed.  They can spy the intention to destroy Medicare when they see it, even if Ryan and others think they can pull one over on them.

Photo: Swedish
That and the successful recall efforts against 6 Repub State Senators who voted to bust public sector unions have some Repubs looking for a little negotiating room with their governor on some elements of his crash-and-burn biennium budget proposal.

Like mandating recycling but cutting funds to pay for it. Like intentions to turn the UW-Madison campus into an elite private-public institutions that only the rich can afford (and without the annoyance of union representation for the faculty and staff, but that's another issue).

Meanwhile, those outside agitators, the folks from the American Recall Coalition in Utah, have not had much success against the Wisconsin 14. Imagine thinking they could get enough petitions to recall Sen. Lena Taylor or the revered State Sen. Risser!! A little miscalculation there, doncha' think?  Should make for a fun summer.

Meanwhile, Repubs continue their assault on the most basic right of any democracy - the right to vote. In their proposed voter ID law, the intent to suppress the vote was already apparent. Now they have new proposals to put in place difficult hurdles for voter registration efforts and to move the primary election from September to August - when folks are on vacation and students have not yet arrived at university campuses.

My favorite line in the article is this one: "A hearing on the bill is slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, and Republicans who run the Assembly will meet in private later in the day to discuss any changes to the measure." So many private meetings on so many essential things. Transparency is not a characteristic of the current character of our Repub legislators.

Interestingly, the guy pushing these proposals is Repub Rep. Jeff Stone who just lost decisively to Chris Abele in the election for County Executive, one of the local elections considered to be a mandate on the Walker regime. Didn't go well for him, and actually a number of Repubs could face difficult elections next year - so best to get measures in place now to make it harder for poor people, students, and the elderly to vote. Best to get measures in place now to make it more difficult to vote absentee or to carry out voter registration drives.

It's about their future
It's too easy to say it's just about a sore loser. In fact, once again, there are efforts to do similar things in several states, and, once again, you get that feeling that something else is going, like coordinated efforts to create one-party rule wherever possible. At stake are issues as basic as whether or not our democracy will survive these rightist assaults, whether there is intent to co-opt, manipulate, and control state and local elections to attain dominance for one political party.

I try not to get all hyperbolic about these things, but I've been involved in grassroots political work and advocacy all my life and I have never seen anything quite so threatening to our democracy as these recent efforts in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Maine, and elsewhere to take away the right to vote from more and more people, the populations whose votes Repub governors and legislators cannot count on to keep them in power for their true agenda - to gut government, privatize as much of the public sector as they can, and make off with our future.

For more, I highly recommend you take the time to view this video, if you have not yet seen it. This is stuff we need to know - because it looks more and more possible that it is democracy itself that is at stake here.

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