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Posted by on Feb 21, 2010 in At TMV, Breaking News, Economy, Education, Health, International, Politics, War | 12 comments

When The Republcans Take Charge

Newsweek has what we called a thumbsucker posing what if the Republicans were in control of Congress and the White House.

I don’t mean to put words in their mouth, but the answer is:

Not much.

The article divides the issues confronting our federal executive and legislative branches albeit I must observe that health reform and gays in the military would never see the light of day in a nation run by Republicans.

I was looking for answers to what the GOP now known as the party of no would do when they seized majority power. In this regard, Newsweek failed other than regurgitating what they are doing now and the not so distant past — as in the Bush administration.

Before we discuss the difference on the issues, Newsweek summarized the current situation:

In zero-sum Washington, members of the opposition party have little incentive to help the president, especially if it means the credit for their actions could accrue to him and not them. If politics is the art of compromise, then politics as practiced in the capital is the art of preventing compromise at all costs. This is why, infuriatingly, our elected officials spend so much time plotting ways to stick it to the other side with “filibuster-proof super-majorities” and “nuclear options,” while the unemployment rate hovers in the double digits and 46 million Americans go without health insurance. It is why not a single GOP senator voted for the health-care bill now stalled in Congress, and why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell turned against a GOP-inspired plan for a deficit commission once Obama endorsed the idea.

On jobs, Newsweek said the Republican mantra is simple. Tax cuts and tax credits:

Leave more money in the hands of business owners, Republicans say, and they will use it to place orders—stimulating job growth—or hire new workers themselves.

Republicans would end any stimulus program even though there is evidence the Democrats’ $787 billion plan may have saved the country from sliding into a full scale depression.

On debt, Newsweek contends Republican leadership has failed to address the corp problem — a $1.4 trillion deficit with a $12 trillion national debt growing at the rate of $3.87 billion daily.

Small-government Republicans come down squarely on the side of smaller deficits. It is an issue that goes to their deepest principles, and appeals both to their base and to the growing tea-party movement they hope to win over. Cut spending, reduce government, and restore America’s strength. Sounds great. Except that no one in either party has figured out how to do that in a way that won’t cause a rebellion among the voters.

Neither party is addressing the elephant in the room, Newsweek says.

The real problem is runaway costs in three sacred entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Until something is done to bring them under control before the baby boomers start retiring en masse, the rest is just talk.

Example:

One Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has introduced a detailed proposal to cut the deficit by reining in Medicare and Social Security spending. It would shift some of the burden from the government to individuals and introduce, among other things, a voucher system for Medicare. The result? Ryan has attracted just nine Republican cosponsors and zero Democrats.

On health care, the Republican 219-page reform package duplicates what the Democrats took 1,990 pages to write.

Democrats favor one vast nationwide pool and would require insurers to offer plans that meet government minimum requirements for coverage and costs so the industry can’t steer the old and sick into more expensive plans with stingier benefits. Republicans see that as intrusive government meddling. They want a system of small, self-selecting pools of people with similar needs. The free market will see to it that insurance companies meet demand, they say—a claim that is met with skepticism by many economists and health-care analysts, who note that it hasn’t worked that way in places where such ideas have been tried.

On foreign policy, there is little disagreement since the Obama administration essentially is following the policies of the Bush regime. There are red-herring disputes closing Guantanamo Bay prison and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule banning gays in the military. On whether to try military combatants in federal or military courts, Newsweek uses Missouri Republican Sen. Kit Bond as the voice of the GOP:

Republicans insist that revealing which methods can and cannot be used only helps the enemy train against U.S. interrogation. Bond and other Republicans argue it is important for the United States to keep its options open. If Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri were to be captured, Bond says, U.S. officials must have the ability to declare them enemy combatants so that they can be “interrogated until we have obtained every bit of intelligence they possess.”

On education, Newsweek argues the Republicans are light years ahead of the Democrats who still cling to the thought that throwing enough money at the problem somehow will solve it.

(Republicans) have introduced some of the most successful reform ideas for improving failing schools: increasing competition and choice, raising standards and expectations, and relying on hard data to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Yet, they resorted to their old out-of-power ways by voting against Obama’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top initiative—offering rewards to the states that had the most ambitious school-reform programs.

I love these what if — thumbsucker — stories because by looking at the larger picture they shed light on the trees in the forest. The system is suffering from a root rot disease.