In Oct. 2 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kathy Foley, Columnist
When I first agreed to write this column, I worried that I might not be able to come up with something to write every week.
Was I ever wrong! My biggest problem this week is having so many topics that I simply can't decide.
I find myself tempted to tell you about all the Republicans in Congress who have shown blatant hypocrisy, such as Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee who voted against the auto-bailout but had the audacity to show up at a ceremony celebrating the re-opening of an idled GM plant. During the heated debate over the auto bailout, Sen. Corker was selected by the Republicans to negotiate their position that government aid should not be given to the car companies unless and until worker wages and benefits were reduced to levels "competitive" with foreign labor. When he was unable to get American workers' wages lowered to the degree he wanted, he voted no on the bailout. In fact, he voted no to even bringing it to a vote. Fast forward nearly two years to a GM auto plant in Springhill, Tennessee where 483 previously laid-off workers are celebrating the fact that they once again have jobs and that the American auto industry is not dead and gone after all, and who is there to take the stage and attempt to take credit for the success of the auto bailout? You guessed it-Bob Corker, who had this to say to those workers:
"We had a raucous debate in Washington-a raucous debate about the future of the automobile industry. And I was an active player in that debate. … At the end of the day I think we all have to feel good about what we did and I know that I contributed to strengthening the auto industry in this country."
Uh, excuse me, Senator Corker, but no, you didn't. You tried to kill the American auto industry. It survived and was strengthened in spite of you!
But Senator Corker wasn't the only Republican in attendance who had not supported the auto bailout-Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Marsha Blackburn, who also voted no, attended the celebration.
I wish I could say that this kind of blatant, Republican hypocrisy was the exception, but it's not. It seems to be the rule and what's more, none of them seem to have the slightest embarrassment or shame in doing it. Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, one of the Republican Young Guns on the economy is slated to become the Chairman of the Budget Committee should the GOP take control of the House. When the Democrats used Reconciliation back in March to pass the new healthcare bill, Rep. Ryan couldn't have been more outraged. He said in the Washington Post on March 14, that Reconciliation was a "…convoluted legislative charade…" and that the Democrats were "…employing any means to achieve political victory." On March 15th on Fox News, he described the use of Reconciliation as "…an extraordinary and unprecedented abuse. …Never before has the House Committee process been so grossly exploited." Four days later, he said that the Democrats in the Senate lacked "…the courage to have a clean up or down vote in the people's House. …This is not good democracy. This is not good government."
On September 23rd, in an interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC, Ryan was asked,
"Can you use Reconciliation to chip away and gradually roll back some of the unpopular Obama policies; will that be your strategy [as Chairman of the Budget Committee]?"
Ryan emphatically responded,
"Yes you can. … Reconciliation is the fastest, best path to get there. We do want to use Reconciliation. You ultimately have to use Reconciliation to get this problem fixed."
Talk about being against something before you were for it…
Then there are the Republicans who were vehemently opposed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the Stimulus Bill, saying that it would not work; that it would not create new jobs, and are now seeking some of those very same stimulus dollars to create jobs in their states and who, at the same time, want to take credit for it. The Energy Department is distributing about $48 million in stimulus funds for projects such as modernizing the electric grid, advanced energy research, renewable energy and advanced battery manufacturing.
At least 24 congressional Republicans who voted no to the stimulus plan are now lobbying for those funds. They include Reps. Jo Bonner of Alabama, Dan Lungren of California, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman of Colorado, Lynn Westmoreland, Jack Kingston and Nathan Deal of Georgia, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Fred Upton, Vernon Ehlers, Thaddeus McCotter, Candice Miller and Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, Jim Jordan and Michael Turner of Ohio, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Phil Roe and Zach Wamp of Tennessee and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington along with Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee and Bob Bennett of Utah.
The same Reconciliation hypocrite mentioned earlier, Paul Ryan, called the stimulus plan "a wasteful spending spree" and that it "misses the mark on all counts." But then he wrote a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in support of a grant application from a group in his district which "intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs." Alabama's senior Republican senator, Richard Shelby called the stimulus package "the socialist way" while it was being debated. But that didn't stop him and the other Republican senator from Alabama from asking the US Forest Service for $15 million of stimulus money for cogon grass eradication and control programs. They received $6.3 million, which they happily presented to their state as if they were responsible for it.
The Environmental Protection Agency received eight identical letters from Republican Senator Bob Bennett from Utah recommending infrastructure projects in his state-seven of which were sent before stimulus legislation was even passed, which means he was sending them even as he was opposing the bill.
The Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, both from Texas and both voted no on the stimulus bill, but both wrote letters to the EPA extolling "the positive impact this grant will have in the region by serving as a foundation for the Port of Houston Authority's Clean Air Strategy Plan, creating jobs and significantly reducing diesel emissions."
But then, I've already written one column on the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the Republicans. Maybe I should write instead about all the "small businesses" that the Republicans claim will be hurt by not extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
It was revealed this past week that the "small businesses" the Republicans are so worried about are not "small" in the sense that they want us to think. They are small only in the number of owners, not the number of employees or earnings. The Republicans' definition of a small business is one that uses a "pass through" or one that files no taxes but passes through their profits to their owners who report them on their individual tax returns instead, such as S Corporations and partnerships. In other words, the richer you are, the more likely you are to call yourself a small business. In 2008, 89% who made more than $10 million per year filed as a partnership or an S corporation. Some of these "small businesses" that the Republicans are so determined to help extend tax breaks to are
• A pipeline company called Enterprise Product Partners, 2009 revenues of $25 billion
• A Wall Street Firm called Kohlberg Kravis Roberts Co., 2009 revenues of $445 million
• Accounting firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers, $26 billion revenues in '09
• Ferrellgas, 2009 revenues of $2 billion with over 1 million customers
• CoorsTek, a technical ceramics company founded by Adolf Coors, $549 million '09 revenues
• Dead River Co., 1,200 employees and '09 revenues of $500 million; commercial real estate holdings of over $300 million
• McIlhenny Company, makers of Tabasco pepper sauce, selling to over 160 countries and '09 revenues of $250 million
• Fidelity Investments, which converted to an S corporation in 2007 and saved millions in taxes, '09 revenues of $11.5 billion
• The Chicago Tribune converted to an S corp in 2008 and has saved $1.9 billion in taxes
• Bechtel, the #1 engineering and construction firm that builds airports, seaports, railroads & oil refineries and, oh yeah, the Hoover Dam; has 49,000 employees and '09 revenues of $31 billion
These are just a few of the "small businesses" the Republicans are more worried about than you and I and will block the tax cuts for us before they will allow them to be left out of the tax cuts.
Although I've already written about the Republicans wanting to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, I think it's really important to point out that now they want to do the same thing to the VA Healthcare system. The Republican Senatorial candidates from Colorado, Nevada and Delaware-Ken Buck, Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, are all on record for wanting to privatize VA Healthcare. And it's not just candidates, either. Current Republican members of Congress who want to dismantle the VA Healthcare system are Oklahoma Representative James Inhofe, Rep. Zack Wamp from Tennessee, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and, of course, Senator John McCain, who in his bid for the presidency in 2008 made as part of his platform replacing the current VA healthcare system with a "voucher system." This should be a very real concern for a great many of us in Russell County who receive our healthcare from the VA, myself included.
The Republicans introduced their "Pledge to America" this past week and I really should write about how the Man Who Would Be Speaker, John Boehner, really told us all we needed to know about the "Pledge" during his press conference when he unveiled their manifesto, "We are not going to be any different than what we've been."
They proceeded to promise to repeal President Obama's Healthcare plan "lock, stock & barrel" while at the same time promising to keep many parts of it. Their "Pledge" includes ending the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), but apparently, they are not aware it is already scheduled to end on October 3rd. It will be a thing of the past by the time you read this.
I give up! There are so many things to write about my head is about to explode!
Maybe I'll be able to decide by next week.