There’s a Hypocrisy in Our Democracy

Facebook has once again gifted me with one of those “Memories” of an old post that had slipped my mind until it popped up again on my timeline this weekend.  hypocritesThis one was from just a year ago.  And, as you’ve probably deduced since I’m writing about it here, it was politics related.  Written on November 16, 2016 it was just a couple weeks after Trump’s election win, and it was my attempt to gather my thoughts of the entire preceding year into just a few words.

Here’s the post:

FB memory hypocrisy crop

And when Facebook resurfaced that post for me this past weekend, in 2017, all I could think was how perfect it was for that post to show up right now.  The post is even truer now than it was on the day I wrote it, if possible.  So today, I’m going to highlight a few of the most prominent examples.

Roy Moore & the Party of Family Values

The most obvious and timely illustration of this – the one most minds probably immediately go to – is the case of Roy Moore and the Alabama Senate race.  The party of “family values” may be on the verge of electing an alleged pedophile to the Senate.  And while we must use the word “alleged” because Moore has not had (and almost certainly will not have, at this point) his day in court, there is quite a bit of evidence – including multiple on the record accounts – to back up the numerous allegations against him.

Yet the entire Alabama GOP is sticking with Moore.  Worse, many of them have made arguments for why – even if he did what he’s accused of – it’s really not that bad.  They’ve even resorted to pointing to the bible to demonstrate why Moore’s behavior is a-okay.  Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who has said she has no reason to doubt Moore’s accusers, has said that she’ll be voting for Moore anyway.  On the national level, Republicans in Washington are handling the situation somewhat more admirably, though it took them too long to get there (only after several days of increasingly bad headlines did they stop their “if these stories are true . . .” formulation).  Most are condemning Moore and saying he doesn’t belong in the Senate.

However, it remains to be seen how they’ll respond if Moore does indeed win the Senate seat.  Remember, when Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape first came out, a number of Republicans withdrew their support from him.  And more evidence of his unfitness was revealed after that, when more than a dozen women came out to say Trump actually did harass or assault them in ways that matched his words on the tape.  Yet, in a few weeks, as Trump’s poll numbers rebounded, putting him back within just a few points of Clinton, Republicans moved on as if the whole thing had never happened.

Donald Trump & the Party of Family Values

Which brings us to the next example of GOP hypocrisy laid bare by Trump – and that’s Trump himself, his presence in the White House, despite the aforementioned allegations.  This is particularly salient right now because recent news has put these allegations back in the white hot spotlight.  The accusations against Moore caused some discussion around Trump’s own accusers to resurface, but it was this past week’s accusation against Democratic Senator Al Franken that really reignited the conversation about Trump’s own past.  Trump, being Trump, just couldn’t resist taking to Twitter to jab Franken.

And that has put the public conversation back to where it should have been all along.  Why do we believe all these other women, but Trump’s accusers have been shoved by the wayside, allowing Trump to get away entirely consequence free?  Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for an ethics investigation into Senator Franken.   And yes, Franken requested the investigation into himself, and it seems like a good thing that an investigation will be taking place.  But in the meantime, McConnell, and the entire Republican Party have swept the far more serious (and more numerous) accusations against the President under the rug.  Republicans are the only ones who have the power to hold Trump accountable and instead they’re helping him to escape accountability.* (See note below re Franken and the Democrats).

Who’s Jamming Who on Health Care?

Next, let’s turn to an entirely different area of GOP hypocrisy, one involving policy making: GOP attempts to repeal & replace Obamacare have been the height of hypocrisy.   Republicans spent approximately 7 years – from the time of Obamacare’s passage right up until their own health care bill passed the House – complaining about the process Democrats used to pass Obamacare.  This was nervy to begin with because their claims about what Democrats had done were all untrue:  Republicans whined constantly that Obamacare was rushed through Congress, that it was “jammed” through without any hearings.  In fact the exact opposite was true.

The legislative process for devising and passing Obamacare was unusually long, deliberative and transparent.  The whole thing took more than a year, and there were dozens of bipartisan committee meetings and public hearings held with input from numerous outside experts.

But then to add insult to injury, after complaining about these things for years, when Republicans set out to make their own health care bill, they actually did all the terrible things that they had (falsely) spent the last 7 years accusing Democrats of doing.  Republicans passed their health care bill through the House only days after it was revealed to the public.  It was written and passed with no hearings, no discussion, no input from Democrats, no input from outside experts or stakeholders and without even waiting for a CBO score.  An even more rushed process was attempted in the Senate. Had it not been for just those 3 Senators who voted no, it would have passed the Senate this way as well.

I wrote about this entire scam in detail here.  If this is a topic that interests you, I hope you’ll read it, because it’s really quite stunning to see what they were within inches of pulling off there.  I’m not sure people are fully aware of quite how big a scam it was.

And Now, the Tax Jam – Or Should I Say “Scam”?

And this brings us to our next stop on the GOP hypocrisy tour. Because now – after nearly a decade of complaining about process – they’re trying to pull the same scam once again with their tax cut bill.  They’re going through the exact same secretive, rushed drafting process.  They’re refusing to hold any public hearings, get any input from Democrats, or get any input from outside experts or stakeholders.

And, just like with the health care bill, they’re speeding their plans to a vote before the public has time to fully absorb or understand what’s in these bills or mobilize against them.  They’re rushing to a vote, because just like with the health care bill, they know this plan is overwhelmingly unpopular and the only way to pass it is to sneak it through before anyone has a chance to object.  All of this also means that Republicans aren’t taking the time to fully understand how their legislation will affect the economy or the American people.

At Least They’re Consistent on the Deficit, Right?  Right??

But it gets even worse.  Republicans’ bread & butter, their identity, their big selling point is their fiscal conservatism.  They’re deficit hawks.  Even people who don’t care about the culture wars become Republicans because they’re concerned about the debt.  So it was fitting when Republicans spent the entire Obama presidency railing about the debt & deficits, right?

Even when we were dealing with huge national crises that required infusions of federal spending, Republicans held the line and refused to vote for anything that would increase the deficit.  Republicans were so adamant about cutting spending in the name of reducing the deficit that they routinely threatened government shutdowns over it, and ultimately actually caused one in 2013.  They were sticking by their principals.

But now, Republicans control the government, and apparently deficits don’t matter anymore.  The new GOP tax plan will cause a deficit of $1.5 trillion over the next decade.  That’s not just a deficit, that’s a DEFICIT.  Except, wait a minute, because that’s not even right.  That’s just the amount that Republicans are copping to.  Take away all the accounting gimmicks and their tax bill will actually cause a $2 trillion deficit.

And not only are Republicans adding this massive toll to the deficit, after 8 years of moaning about every dollar Obama tried to spend – they’re adding to the deficit for no good reason.  There is no economic reason that we need, or even want, tax cuts right now.  As Stan Collender, the expert on all things budgetary, explains:

There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered “full employment“), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one.

This is actually the ideal time for Washington to be doing the opposite . . .

And as Collender also points out, because of the rushed, warped process the GOP is using to pass the bill, they have no idea what the economic consequences of the bill will be.  So not only does the economy not need tax cuts right now, this bill may very well end up being harmful.   In fact, that’s exactly what Collender thinks is the likely outcome.  Click over to the short article for his full explanation.

And Lastly, Our National Insecurity

And finally, we have the GOP hypocrisy on national security.  The GOP has long prided itself on being the party that keeps the nation safe. They’ve especially hit us over the head with this idea ever since September 11. Yet, in the 2016 election, they backed a man who had no knowledge about the world and no curiosity to gain new knowledge, who disparaged our nation’s generals and thought he knew more than they did.  And now that Trump’s in office, he’s living down to everything he demonstrated during that campaign: he’s making the country unsafe with his ignorance, his tempestuousness, and his inability to ever refrain from spouting off on Twitter about every single thing that thought that he ever has.

Republicans know this.  Bob Corker made it clear in comments to the New York Times.  He said Trump was risking World War Three with his reckless behavior.  And Corker noted that:

“[E]xcept for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker had much, much more to say about how dangerous Trump’s behavior is. And even before Corker’s comments, any sentient being could see that Trump is temperamentally unfit to be Commander-in-Chief (let alone to have his finger on the nuclear button).  But aside from Corker (who’s retiring) and McCain (who is also unlikely to be back for another term, sadly due to his health), not a single Republican is willing to speak out or do anything to try to restrain or check Trump’s behavior.

It’s a Wrap

So, those are just a few of the most prominent examples of the ways in which GOP hypocrisy has been on stark display this past year.  It’s not solely about Trump – the policy making examples probably would have happened to some extent under any Republican President.  But with Trump in the White House, Republicans’ desperation to get something – anything – passed and to do it quickly (before he blows the whole darn thing up) has reached a fevered pitch, and that’s led their ordinary bad behavior to become amped up to comic book villain levels.  And thankfully that means they can no longer hide it behind clever messaging and slick salesmen. Once and for all, it’s finally out there in big, bold color for all the world to see.  Hypocrisy Tour 2017: Starring the GOP.

*****

NOTE:

*According to Axios, major media outlets are investigating a bunch of other sexual harassment allegations against multiple members of Congress.  Almost certainly some of those members will be Democrats, because let’s face it, there are dogs all across the political spectrum.  There is also some additional news about Senator Al Franken developing as I’m in the process of writing this post.

So I hope that if/when these stories come to fruition, the Democratic Party will handle them admirably.  It’s always hard to face these sorts of stories about people on your own “team,” especially if the subjects are people you particularly admire.  So we may be facing some hypocrisy on the Democratic side as well in the future.  However, the initial allegation against Franken was well handled by Democratic electeds, and I hope the Party will continue to handle allegations against him or any other elected Democrats with integrity going forward.

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