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questionall:

Imagine a plot to undermine the government of the United States, to destroy much of its capacity to do the public’s business, and to sow distrust among the population.

Imagine further that the plotters infiltrate Congress and state governments, reshape their districts to give them disproportionate influence in Washington, and use the media to spread big lies about the government.

Finally, imagine they not only paralyze the government but are on the verge of dismantling pieces of it.

Far-fetched?  Perhaps. But take a look at what’s been happening in Washington and many state capitals since Tea Party fanatics gained effective control of the Republican Party, and you’d be forgiven if you see parallels.

Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the “sequestration” cuts beginning today (Friday). “This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a Tea Partier who was first elected in 2010.

Sequestration is only the start. What they set out to do was not simply change Washington but eviscerate the U.S. government — “drown it in the bathtub,” in the words of their guru Grover Norquist – slashing Social Security and Medicare, ending worker protections we’ve had since the 1930s, eroding civil rights and voting rights, terminating programs that have helped the poor for generations, and making it impossible for the government to invest in our future.

Sequestration grew out of a strategy hatched soon after they took over the House in 2011, to achieve their goals by holding hostage the full faith and credit of the United States – notwithstanding the Constitution’s instruction that the public debt of the United States “not be questioned.”

To avoid default on the public debt, the White House and House Republicans agreed to harsh and arbitrary “sequestered” spending cuts if they couldn’t come up with a more reasonable deal in the interim. But the Tea Partiers had no intention of agreeing to anything more reasonable. They knew the only way to dismember the federal government was through large spending cuts without tax increases.

Nor do they seem to mind the higher unemployment their strategy will almost certainly bring about. Sequestration combined with January’s fiscal cliff deal is expected to slow economic growth by 1.5 percentage points this year – dangerous for an economy now crawling at about 2 percent. It will be even worse if the Tea Partiers  refuse to extend the government’s spending authority, which expires March 27.

A conspiracy theorist might think they welcome more joblessness because they want Americans to be even more fearful and angry. Tea Partiers use fear and anger in their war against the government – blaming the anemic recovery on government deficits and the government’s size, and selling a poisonous snake-oil of austerity economics and trickle-down economics as the remedy.

They likewise use the disruption and paralysis they’ve sown in Washington to persuade Americans government is necessarily dysfunctional, and politics inherently bad. Their continuing showdowns and standoffs are, in this sense, part of the plot.  

What is the President’s response? He still wants a so-called “grand bargain” of “balanced” spending cuts (including cuts in the projected growth of Social Security and Medicare) combined with tax increases on the wealthy. So far, though, he has agreed to a gross imbalance — $1.5 trillion in cuts to Republicans’ $600 billion in tax increases on the rich.

The President apparently believes Republicans are serious about deficit reduction, when in fact the Tea Partiers now running the GOP are serious only about dismembering the government. 

And he seems to accept that the budget deficit is the largest economic problem facing the nation, when in reality the largest problem is continuing high unemployment (some 20 million Americans unemployed or under-employed), declining real wages, and widening inequality. Deficit reduction now or in the near-term will only make these worse.

Besides, the deficit is now down to about 5 percent of GDP – where it was when Bill Clinton took office. It is projected to mushroom in later years mainly because healthcare costs are expected to rise faster than the economy is expected to grow, and the American population is aging. These trends have little or nothing to do with government programs. In fact, Medicare is far more efficient than private health insurance.

I suggest the President forget about a “grand bargain.” In fact, he should stop talking about the budget deficit and start talking about jobs and wages, and widening inequality – as he did in the campaign. And he should give up all hope of making a deal with the Tea Partiers who now run the Republican Party.

Instead, the President should let the public see the Tea Partiers for who they are — a small, radical minority intent on dismantling the government of the United States. As long as they are allowed to dictate the terms of public debate they will continue to hold the rest of us hostage to their extremism.

They all need to be tried for treason but then so do all the other slime balls sitting in Washington scrapping the constitution and doing whatever the hell the banks and corporations who own them tell them to do.  The banksters and corporation executives and their boards should all be tried for treason as well.  They have no loyalty or care for this country or the people who live in it and create their wealth for them.  They all need to be sitting behind bars for the rest of their lives with the bare minimums for existence.  I don’t know about you, but I have had about all I can take of their greed and corruption.  It has to stop!!!

The Sequester as a Tea Party Plot | Alternet

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Some of the nation’s biggest corporations donated more than a million dollars to launch a Republican nonprofit that went on to play a key role in recent political fights.

Like the nonprofit groups that poured money into last year’s elections, the decade-old State Government Leadership Foundation has been able to keep the identities of its funders secret. Until now.

More here.

Republican dark money group’s corporate sponsors revealed

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Holy smokin’ astroturf! (h/t Yubanet.com)

By: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Feb. 8, 2013 – Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that arose spontaneously in 2009, the Tea Party developed in part as a result of tobacco industry efforts to oppose smoking restrictions and tobacco taxes beginning in the 1980s, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco.

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party movement have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (CTCRE) and a UCSF professor of medicine and American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control.

The study, which appears on Feb. 8, 2013 in the journal Tobacco Control, shows that rhetoric and imagery evoking the 1773 Boston Tea Party were used by tobacco industry representatives as early as the 1980s as part of an industry-created “smokers’ rights” public relations campaign opposing increased cigarette taxes and other anti-smoking initiatives.

From previously secret tobacco industry documents available at the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, IRS filings and other publicly available documents, the study authors traced a decades-long chain of personal, corporate and financial relationships between tobacco companies, tobacco industry lobbying and public relations firms and nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party.

The research uncovered the tobacco industry’s ongoing opposition to health care reform, dating back to a major campaign waged against President Bill Clinton’s proposed 75 cent cigarette tax to help finance it.

more here

Tea Party’s Ties to Tobacco Industry Date Back to 1980s, UCSF Study Shows

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Corporations offshoring profits costs both the federal government and states billions of dollars per year. One of the more egregious giveaways is known as “deferral,” which allows U.S. corporations to avoid paying taxes on overseas profits until they bring that money back to the U.S., giving them every incentive to leave it overseas permanently.

More at http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/07/1554221/sanders-corporate-tax-bill/

 

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robertreich:

Brace yourself. In coming weeks you’ll hear there’s no serious alternative to cutting Social Security and Medicare, raising taxes on middle class, and decimating what’s left of the federal government’s discretionary spending on everything from education and job training to highways and basic research.

“We” must make these sacrifices, it will be said, in order to deal with our mushrooming budget deficit and cumulative debt. 

But most of the people who are making this argument are very wealthy or are sponsored by the very wealthy: Wall Street moguls like Pete Peterson and his “Fix the Debt” brigade, the Business Roundtable, well-appointed think tanks and policy centers along the Potomac, members of the Simpson-Bowles commission. 

These regressive sentiments are packaged in a mythology that Americans have been living beyond our means: We’ve been unwilling to pay for what we want government to do for us, and we are now reaching the day of reckoning.  

The truth is most Americans have not been living beyond their means. The problem is their means haven’t been keeping up with the growth of the economy — which is why most of us need better education, infrastructure, and healthcare, and stronger safety nets.

More at The Myth of Living Beyond Our Means

Robert Reich: The Myth of Living Beyond Our Means

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robertreich:

Brace yourself. In coming weeks you’ll hear there’s no serious alternative to cutting Social Security and Medicare, raising taxes on middle class, and decimating what’s left of the federal government’s discretionary spending on everything from education and job training to highways and basic research.

“We” must make these sacrifices, it will be said, in order to deal with our mushrooming budget deficit and cumulative debt.

But most of the people who are making this argument are very wealthy or are sponsored by the very wealthy: Wall Street moguls like Pete Peterson and his “Fix the Debt” brigade, the Business Roundtable, well-appointed think tanks and policy centers along the Potomac, members of the Simpson-Bowles commission.  

More here

Robert Reich: The Myth of Living Beyond Our Means

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According a report by private equity firm, KKR, budgets cuts in Europe are not leading to growth but making matters worse:

“over the past twenty or so years, a one percent contraction in the fiscal deficit traditionally led to only about a 50 basis point contraction in GDP5. Today, by comparison, the multiplier in Europe is closer to 1.25-1.75x”

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Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/europe-fiscal-austerity-multiplier-2013-1#ixzz2J1lZejVd

How Austerity Is Increasingly Crushing Europe [via Business Insider]

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Everyone needs to know about this!

The Republican Party in several states that voted solidly Democratic in the last Presidential election plans to change the way Electoral College votes are apportioned so that the Republican candidate will win that state, even though that candidate does not win a majority of the popular vote! It’s vote rigging – plain and simple!

Republicans have already used gerrymandering to keep the House of Representatives even though they lost the popular vote:

GOP's plan to steal next election

How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictures