GOP

Morning Plum: Republicans won’t have any contingency plan if Court guts subsidies for millions

The Washington Post – Plum Line

With the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments this week in the lawsuit that could do severe damage to the Affordable Care Act, some Republican lawmakers are working hard to convey the impression that they have a contingency plan for the millions who will likely lose subsidies — and coverage — if the Court rules with the challengers. Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, and John Barrasso have published a Washington Post op ed with an oh-so-reassuring title: “We have a plan for fixing health care.”

The good Senators, amusingly, cast their “plan” as something that will protect people from “the administration’s” actions and from Obamacare itself, not from the consequences of the legal challenge or a Court decision siding with it. The plan vows to “provide financial assistance” for a “transitional period” to those who lose subsidies, while Republicans create a “bridge away from Obamacare.” Of course, anyone who watched last week’s chaos in the House knows Congressional Republicans are unlikely to coalesce around any “transitional” relief for those who lose subsidies (that would require spending federal money to cover people) or any permanent long-term alternative. This chatter appears transparently designed to make it easier for conservative Justices to side with the challengers.

Yet even if this game works on the Justices in the short term, any eventual failure to come through with any  contingency plan could saddle Republicans with a political problem, perhaps even among GOP voters.

A poll taken by Independent Women’s Voice — a group that favors repealing Obamacare in the name of individual liberty — found that in the nearly three dozen states on the federal exchange, 75 percent of respondents think it’s very (54) or somewhat (21) important to restore subsidies to those who lose them. In the dozen main presidential swing states, 75 percent of respondents say the same.

And guess what: Large majorities of Republican voters agree. A spokesperson for the group tells me that in both those groups of states taken together, 62 percent of Republican respondents say its very (31) or somewhat (31) important to restore the subsidies. Only 31 percent of Republicans in those states think doing this is unimportant.

This raises the possibility that a lot of Republican voters would be harmed by an anti-ACA decision, too. As Politico puts it today: “The people who would be affected by a Supreme Court decision against the Obama administration live disproportionately in GOP-governed states, and an Urban Institute study found that many people fall into a demographic crucial to the GOP base — white, Southern and employed.”

Now, none of this means Republicans will be more likely to step forward with a solution. As Avik Roy (who hopes the Court rules against the ACA) acknowledges, Republicans are so divided that uniting on any response is unlikely:

Republicans are being pulled in two directions. On the one hand, you have dozens of House members from highly ideological districts, for whom a primary challenge is a far bigger political risk than a general election. Many members of this group think that continuing Obamacare’s subsidies, in any form, is problematic.

On the other hand, there is a large group of Republican senators in blue and purple states up for reelection in 2016. These include Mark Kirk (Ill.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Pat Toomey (Penn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Rob Portman (Ohio). These senators are much more aligned with Hatch, Alexander, and Barrasso.

Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers, who could keep the subsidies flowing to their constituents by setting up state exchanges, are all over the place on what might come next, with some already ruling out such a fix. Indeed, in the end, it probably won’t matter that large majorities of Americans — or even large majorities of Republicans — support restoring the subsidies. On this, as on so many other things, GOP lawmakers will probably take their cues from the more conservative minority of Republicans, whatever the political or policy consequences.

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* WHY JUSTICES SHOULD WEIGH CONSEQUENCES OF ANTI-ACA RULING: Law professor Nicholas Bagley has a terrific piece explaining why the Supreme Court Justices should factor in the fact that siding with the challengers would take health care from millions: This eventuality shows the challengers are misreading the law.

It’s not irrelevant that a ruling in their favor would inflict such damage. To the contrary, that fact helps us correctly interpret the statute’s text. Indeed, it shows that the plaintiffs’ understanding of that text is wrong. As the Supreme Court has said time and again, no provision of a statute should be read in isolation. Laws must be read as a whole, with an eye to harmonizing their interdependent parts. That means the court is reluctant to read a stray passage here or there in a way that would destabilize an entire statutory scheme.

It’s also possible that the real-world implications of an anti-ACA ruling might have legal relevance because they bolster the states’ argument that siding with the challengers would impose unfair retroactive consequences on them without clear warning. Read the whole thing.

* LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE ACA IS ‘PROVABLE FICTION’:Steven Brill has a must-read in which he documents his close reporting on the creation of the Affordable Care Act, and why that led him to the conclusion that the idea that Congress intended to deny subsidies to those on the federal exchange is nothing but “fiction” and a “fairytale”:

Congressional intent is a fact-based inquiry, not a matter of opinion. Given the unambiguous mountain of facts arrayed for the defense (and well-presented in the briefs submitted by the defense side), it is hard enough to see how the lawyers on the plaintiffs’ side could actually believe in their case…if a majority of supposedly objective justices decide to ignore the facts and buy their argument, they will have engaged in a breathtaking act of political activism.

The Justices, however, could simply conclude that the disputed phrase is not ambiguous enough to warrant Chevron deference to the IRS’ interpretation of the law, despite all the evidence of Congressional intent, not to mention the law’s overall structure and purpose.

* DEMOCRATS ANGRY ABOUT NETANYAHU SPEECH: Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address Congress tomorrow, and the New York Times reports that anger and unease are widespread among Congressional Democrats. The latest tally on who will skip the speech:

So far, 30 Democrats — four senators and 26 representatives — have said they will not attend the speech. Nearly half are African-Americans, who say they feel deeply that Mr. Netanyahu is disrespecting the president by challenging his foreign policy. But a half-dozen of those Democrats planning to stay away are Jewish, and represent 21 percent of Congress’s Jewish members.

Given the historic skittishness among Democrats about appearing even slightly out of sync with what Israel wants, that actually represents something new.

* PARTISAN DIVIDE ON VIEWS OF NETANYAHU: A new NBC News poll finds that  66 percent of Democrats say GOP leaders shouldn’t have invited Netanyahu to speak without notifying the president first, while only 28 percent of Republicans say the same. And only 12 percent of Democrats view Netanyahu favorably, versus 49 percent of Republicans. It bears repeating that when it comes to Israel and diplomacy with Iran, Congressional Democrats are well to the right of their base.

* SCOTT WALKER FLIP-FLOPS ON IMMIGRATION: After previously supporting legalization for the 11 million, Scott Walker tried to get right with conservatives on Fox News Sunday:

“I don’t believe in amnesty…my view has changed. I’m flat out saying it…we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.”

However, Walker also said that “there’s a way” to legalize the 11 million if border security is accomplished first. This puts Walker pretty much where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have come down on the issue.

* TOP CONSERVATIVE: BOEHNER’S JOB IS SAFE: GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, flatly tells CNN that there won’t be any conservative coup to oust Speaker John Boehner: “That’s not gonna happen.”

Duly noted. So what is stopping Boehner from passing long term funding of the Department of Homeland Security with the help of a lot of Democrats? We were repeatedly told during past showdowns that Boehner couldn’t avert crises with Dem help, because he’d lose his Speakership, and each of those ended in the same way.

GOP Summit—The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Crazy

Half-Term Governor of Alaska: Sarah Palin | Jim Young/Reuters

 The Daily Beast

GOP presidential contenders flocked to Iowa on Saturday to try out their pitches on the unofficial beginning of the Iowa Caucus. Hint: Sarah Palin has lost her mind.
You’re going to read a lot of analysis of this weekend’s Freedom Summit as the unofficial beginning of the Iowa caucus.Whether that’s true depends entirely on how many of those who attended are still standing one long year from now—and how many of those who didn’t attend (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul) have campaigns that are still alive and well.The event does serve as a gauge for a candidate’s willingness to pander, and it is the beginning of serious media scrutiny for all the candidates as 2016 candidates,not as quaint spectacles (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) or interesting anomalies (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina)…. or familiar former presidential candidates, who made up a non-shocking majority of the featured speakers (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin).

What did we learn?

Palin is past her sell-by date.

It’s the unofficial policy of many serious political reporters (myself included) to not cover Palin speeches.  So it’s entirely possible I missed a key stretch of her decline that would help make sense of, or have prepared me for, the word-salad-with-a-cup-of-moose-stew that she presented.

Sample passage: “Things must change for our government! It isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change, with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo! Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle class and everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’”

The speech (perhaps a generous description) went on 15 minutes past the 20 minutes allotted other speakers. And even as she ended it, one sensed less a crescendo than the specter of a gong, a hook to pull her off, or—a sincere thought I had—an ambulance to take her… somewhere.

No one else embarrassed themselves out of the race.

The event was organized by immigration hawk Rep. Steve “Cantaloupes” King (with the help of Citizens United) and many pundits fretted (or eagerly anticipated) 47-percent-style gaffes in the service of speakers trying to out-xenophobe each other. I may have missed something, but the anti-immigration rhetoric stayed on the “self-deport” side of offensive. Santorum did some under-the-breath dog whistling in reference to legal immigration, positing that the U.S. is home to more non-native citizens than ever before. He contrasted those non-native-born workers to, ahem, “American workers.” As far as I know, if you work in America, you are an “American worker.” Unless Santorum is thinking of something else.

The soft bigotry of low expectation works!

Scott Walker continues to clear the “not Tim Pawlenty” bar, but no one seems to realize how weak of a standard that is. National journalists cooed over Walker’s relatively energetic speech, apparently forgetting they were comparing it to other Walker speeches. In a similar vein, Chris Christie did not intentionally piss anyone off or bully the audience. Christie gave what seemed a lot like a national-audience speech—probably the only speaker that played it so safe.

Sen. Mike Lee gave some sensible, serious suggestions.

I may be engaging in more expectation management, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lee’s earnest and non-applause-line-ridden speech. He beseeched the audience to look for a candidate that was “positive, principled, and proven”—all while explicitly taking himself out of the running. In what could have been a direct jab at his fellow guests, he quipped, “The principled candidate is not necessarily the guy who yells ‘Freedom!’ the loudest.” He could have been quoting Elizabeth Warren when he softened typical GOP bootstrap rhetoric: “Freedom doesn’t mean ‘You’re all on your own,’” he said, “It means, ‘We’re all in it together.’” Elizabeth Warren would approve.

The GOP is going to need to figure out how to run against someone who is not Obama.

Even Lee, who gave what might be the most forward-looking speech, hung many of his arguments on the framework of undoing what Obama has done. Every other speaker followed suit, and some of the night’s biggest applause lines had to do with the same “fake scandals” that already proved insufficiently interesting to the American people: Benghazi, with a dash of IRS. They speak of repealing Obamacare with the zest of people who think of the House’s own fifty-plus attempts as mere warm-ups. Even their foreign policy script has Obama and the specter of American decline as its primary villains—foes that have defeated them twice before.

Today’s GOP: Still Cool With Racist Pandering?

Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Daily Beast

The refusal of any major Republican to call for Steve Scalise’s resignation is both completely deplorable and totally unsurprising.

What Steve Scalise did in appearing before David Duke’s group—and in twice voting against a Martin Luther King holiday, and in reportedly referring to himself in a chat with a journalist as “David Duke without the baggage”—tells us a lot about Steve Scalise. But what the Republican Party is now doing—or not doing—with regard to Scalise tells us a lot about the Republican Party, and that’s a little more important.

I haven’t seen that one Republican of any note, from Reince Priebus on down, has uttered a word of criticism of the man. Plenty of conservative commentators have said he should step down from his leadership position. Even Sarah Palin sees the sense in this. But among elected Republicans and Priebus, it’s been defense, or silence.

It’s pretty clear what this tells us. Most of the time, institutions of all kinds—political, corporate, nonprofit, what have you—try to duck from scandals and hope they’ll blow over. But occasionally they don’t. Every once in a while, they act swiftly and acknowledge the problem. They do that when they know their bottom line is threatened—when the higher-ups are getting freaked out phone calls from key constituents or stakeholders who are making it clear that this one is serious, that it flies in the face of some basic principle they all thought they were working for, and won’t just blow over.

So the fact that Scalise still has his leadership gig tells us that the key stakeholders and constituencies within the GOP aren’t particularly bothered by the fact that he spoke to white supremacists and indeed might be one himself. They’re certainly embarrassed, I should think. Surely they see the problem here. But they see it as a public-relations problem, a matter to be damage-controlled, which is quite different from seeing it as being plainly and substantively wrong.

This is especially striking, though hardly surprising, in the case of Priebus, Mr. Outreach. As Joan Walsh noted, Priebus has been fond of saying that his GOP would “work like dogs” to improve its standing among the black citizenry, and the brown and the young and the gay and so on. He didn’t specify what breed of dog, but obviously it’s less Retriever and more Bassett Hound.

Here is the RNC’s idea of inclusion. Go to gop.comright now (I mean after you finish reading me!). If the homepage is unchanged from yesterday, when I was writing these words, here’s what you’ll see. Most of it is taken up by a graphic inviting the visitor to participate in the 2016 online presidential straw poll. There are four photos there of representative presidential candidates. Chris Christie and Scott Walker are two. Okay, fine, they’re probably running and are legit candidates.

Let’s see, who else? Jeb Bush? No. Rand Paul? Nyet. Mike Huckabee? Nope. Try Tim Scott and Nikki Haley. Now, Scott and Haley (the black senator and Sikh governor, respectively, from South Carolina) are likely presidential contenders in about the same sense that I’m on the short list for the Nobel Prize in Literature. But, as the Wizard said to the Scarecrow, they’ve got one thing I—and Bush and Paul and Huckabee—haven’t got: melanin. So, says Reince, throw their names in the poll so we can slap ’em up there on the homepage!

That’s just so very RNC, isn’t it? The people who bring you all the gospel choirs and so on at their conventions, which looking solely at the entertainment you’d think were Stax-Volt reunions. You’d never guess that only 2 percent of the delegates (36 out of 2,000, in 2012) were black.

As for elected Republicans, if any prominent one has called on Scalise to step down, it has escaped my notice and the notice of a lot of people I read; the farthest any have gone is to offer up some quotes on background about how Scalise is damaged goods, like this quote, which “a GOP lawmaker” gave to Politico: “As far as him going up to the Northeast, or going out to Los Angeles or San Francisco or Chicago, he’s damaged. This thing is still smoking. Nobody is really fanning the flames yet. … The thing that concerns me is that there are people who are still out there digging on this right now.”

Note: The thing that concerns this “lawmaker” is not that his or her party is being partially led by a sympathizer to white supremacists. It’s that the rest of us are still making a fuss about it, which in turn will damage Scalise’s ability to go prostitute himself before the party’s millionaires. If that’s not a near-perfect summation of contemporary conservative politics in America, then such doesn’t exist.

The media tend to frame situations like this as aberrations, but in this case, quite the opposite is the truth. This person who once said that David Duke’s biggest problem was not his racial views but the fact that he couldn’t get elected is who Scalise is. And this is what the Republican Party is—an organization that isn’t bothered in any meaningful way by the fact one of its top national leaders should hold these kinds of ideas in his head. And finally, this is who most of our political press is—gullible enough to be surprised by either of the first two.

GOP State Rep Who Performed Exorcism on Obama Wants to Replace Obamacare With Jesuscare (VIDEO)

This is an example of the type of people Right-Wingers elected because the majority of Dems stayed home.  My polling place in suburban Atlanta was virtually empty with the exception of a sprinkling of people of color and a majority of senior citizens.  My county is strictly GOP based…

Addicting Info

Newly-elected Colorado GOP State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt has a revolutionary idea for health care — just replace the Affordable Care Act with faith in Jesus!

Klingenschmitt, who once tried to exorcise demons from President Barack Obama’s dark, filthy soul and was discharged from the Navy after he disobeyed orders and politicked in uniform, said on his Pray in Jesus’ Name show that people should rely on God for their health care:

We ought to look to the Lord for our health care. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’

“Isn’t that inspiring? I personally prefer to look to almighty God as my healer and not to the government as a substitute god or substitute healer,” Klingenschmitt said, before praying for those who support the Affordable Care Act.

“Will you pray with me? Let’s pray. Father in Heaven, we turn away from the idolatry that so many have in their hearts, that they think government is a better healer than Jesus. But, Jesus, we know you are the healer.

Klingenschmitt lated added in his prayer:

Lord, we repent of worshiping President Obama as if he is a god, and he is not, or depending entirely upon the government as if it is our provider, and it is not.

Klingenschmitt believes President Obama is filled with a number of demons, including “death,” “murder,” “child-murder,” “sexual abuse,” “genocide,” “paganism,” “witchcraft,” “homosexual lust,” and “anti-Christian oppression.”

According to Klingenschmitt, Obama is using his health care agenda to give Americans cancer. A rabid anti-LGBT warrior, Klingenschmitt claims that President Obama wants to force Christians to engage in anal sex. Recently, he also pushed an entirely unfounded bit of dumbf*ckery that gay soldiers are a liability because their horrible sodomy has forced them to wear diapers, which they must take breaks to change on the battlefield.

Obviously, Klingenschmitt is qualified to make suggestions on our health care system. Watch the clip below:

House Republicans Sue To Raise Health Care Costs For Poor Americans

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

I’m concerned about the Bulls**t  factor that politicians have served to it’s constituents since the beginning of this Republic.

House Speaker Boehner seems especially adept at this factor even better than most.  When will Americans wake up and see they’re being duped over and over again.  I favor no one party in this assessment.  They are all the same when it comes to the Bulls**t factor.

Think Progress

House Republicans filed a long-awaited lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday, arguing that the president has inappropriately acted without congressional authority to implement parts of the health care reform law. If it’s successful, the lawsuit could increase out-of-pocket costs for millions of vulnerable Americans who already struggle to afford health services — even though the GOP has repeatedly accused the law of making coverage too expensive.

According to the legal challenge, the White House shouldn’t have acted unilaterally to delay the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. But it also takes issue with a different provision of the law: subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, which cap the amount that insurers are allowed to charge people for co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Over the next ten years, the ACA will give an estimated $175 billion in subsidies to insurance companies to keep health costs lower for Americans earning between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty line. House Republicans are arguing that money was illegally appropriated without getting approval from Congress.

If insurers no longer receive subsidies from the government to offset the cost of capping out-of-pocket costs, however, the New York Times reports that “the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere.” That could directly affect out-of-pocket expenses among a population that already worries about being able to afford insurance.

GOP lawmakers are setting their sets on repealing this particular consumer protection despite the fact that they’ve have previously had a lot of complaints about the health lawraising out-of-pocket costs, arguing Obamacare threatens to make coverage too unaffordable for average Americans.

In advance of the law’s first enrollment period, Republicans were quick to criticize the other expenses accompanying new Obamacare plans aside from the monthly premiums, saying the deductibles were much too high. At the time, the Senate Republican Communications Center circulated a roundup of consumers complaining about their deductibles.

In April, House Speaker John Boeher (R-OH) complained that Obamacare has caused his co-pays and deductibles to triple, and said he’s been getting letters from his constituents having similar issues. In the lead up to the recent midterm elections, Republicans in close races relied on the messaging that the health law was driving up co-pays and deductibles. Candidates like incoming Sen. Jodi Ernst (IA) argued that the Obama administration was hiding the “true cost” of out-of-pocket expenses from enrollees.

“The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed. But if he gets his way, the House GOP might also end up fueling its own complaints about the law.

Republican Senator Calls Progressive Americans ‘Straight Old Dumb-Ass Liberals’

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) | (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Creative Commons)

The audacity…the absurdity…the irony. Pot meet Kettle…

Addicting Info

Many conservatives are “outraged” over Jonathan Gruber’s “stupidity of the American voter” comment regarding the Affordable Care Act. However, I bet not one conservative even winced when Republican Senator Orin Hatch called progressive Americans “Just straight old dumb-ass liberals.” But why should they care? He’s one of them, so they’re immune to wrongdoing:

“I get a big kick out of them using the word ‘progressive,’” Hatch said, as quoted by Huffington Post. “My gosh, they’re just straight old dumb-ass liberals anyway.”

There it is again! That “kinder, gentler tone” the GOP promised they would use now that they’ve won. Apparently professionalism runs through the GOP. It’s comment like these being one of the reasons why the GOP cannot expand its base beyond old, white, rich, Christian men.

The Utah Republican made these comments in front of many attendees at the Federalist Society’s annual conference, and also said that he looks forward to giving the Democrats “a taste of their own medicine” when the GOP takes back the White House in 2016. The Senator also said that he wants the new Senate to keep the filibuster rules that were changed by by the Democrats in 2013 in order to “teach those blunderheads that they made a big mistake.”

Wait, I thought the Republicans were the proud party of ‘no.’ It’s confusing who is who?

“Frankly, I intend to win with our candidate for the presidency in 2016, and we will give them a taste of their own medicine. And we’re going to win. We’re going to win. These next two years are extremely important. Maybe the most important two years in our history,” Hatch said.

You hear that, Democrats? This gut is amped up and ready to fight and win. Are you going to put in the same effort for 2016 to make sure fools like this don’t see victory? If one says it, you know they’re all probably thinking it.

Regarding immigration, Hatch has taken the same tone as every single Republican that has been before a camera: Obama just won’t work for us, and if he uses executive action, by-golly he’s going to be in a world of hurt:

“Frankly, I’d like to see immigration done the right way,” Hatch added. “This president is prone to doing through executive order that which he cannot do by working with the Congress, because he won’t work with us. If he worked with us, I think we could get an immigration bill through … He has a Republican Congress that’s willing to work with him. That’s the thing that’s pretty interesting to me.”

Seen on the Interent – 11-8-2014

This will be just the beginning of the Idiocracy Nightmare Reign of the GOP in both houses from 2015 to 2017 for Congress and 2021 for Senators elected in this past election.

Prepare for a two year setback on vital measures that will come before Congress such as immigration, Gay rights, civil rights, climate change and more. The goodness is that President Obama, although a “lame duck” in political term, still has the power of the veto pen…for now.

 

 

 

Jon Stewart Perfectly Sums Up The GOP’s Closing Arguments

The Huffington Post

Election Day is here, and the Republicans are poised to win control of the U.S. Senate. For voters planning to head to the polls on Tuesday, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart looked at what he called the GOP’s “closing arguments.”

On Monday night, Stewart played a series of clips from Republican campaigns that were focused on terrorism and Ebola.

“I thought that was a very powerful and cogent essayistic argument,” Stewart said. “Move over ‘hope and change’ and welcome ‘vote for us or get beheaded while pooping blood!'”

As Stewart learned, the Republicans aren’t just getting help from ads filled with fear. They’re also moving forward with voter ID laws that critics say make it more difficult for young, minority and female voters to cast their ballots. Of course, these Americans traditionally vote for Democrats.

Click here to see the clip…

10 insane, fear-mongering GOP lies this election cycle

No attribution

Salon

Whether they’re attacking Obama or Michelle Nunn, Republicans are resorting to some of their dirtiest tactics

Halloween has come and gone, but the Republican Party is offering up its own scares, pulling out its worst scaremongering tactics to try to use fear to get voters to the polls for their candidates. AlterNet has rounded up 10 of the worst fear-mongering lies.

Halloween has come and gone, but the Republican Party is offering up its own scares, pulling out its worst scaremongering tactics to try to use fear to get voters to the polls for their candidates. AlterNet has rounded up 10 of the worst fear-mongering lies.

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1. Michelle Nunn Is Pro-Terrorist Because She Worked With A Muslim Charity: In Georgia’s remarkably close Senate race, GOP nominee David Perdue ran a smear commercial claiming her charity was linked to terrorists because of its work with the Islamic Relief USA. Poltifact found the claim so outlandish it gave it one of its coveted “Pants on Fire” ratings.

2. Obama Cut A Secret Deal To Bring Ebola To The United States: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) had this revelation on Sean Hannity’s radio show: “I can’t help but believe, just based on the way we’ve got all these nebulous excuses why not to have a travel ban, this president, I guarantee you, we’re going to find out, he has cut a deal with African leaders. They’re going to bring people in.”

3. ISIS Is Coming Over The Border Due To Discovered Prayer Rugs That Are Actually Adidas Jerseys: Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst claimed that ISIS prayer rugs were recently found at the border, signaling a possible invasion. The prayer rugs turned out to be Adidas jerseys.

4. Sexual Assault Is A Result Of Taking The Bible Out Of Schools: Jody Hice, the GOP nominee for Georgia’s 10th congressional district, which is currently represented by extremistRep. Paul Broun (R-GA), warned that if we don’t stop taking prayer out of public school, we’ll see more of the kind of sexual assault that took place at Penn State.

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5. ISIS Will Send Ebola-Infected Fighters To The U.S.: Topping Gohmert and Dewhurst, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) went as far as to say that ISIS will weaponize Ebola suicide bombs. “Think about the job they could do, the harm they could inflict on the American people by bringing this deadly disease into our cities, into schools, into our towns, and into our homes. Horrible, horrible,” he said.

6. Arm Yourself, Just In case The Government Tries To Take Away Your Guns: Iowa Senate GOP candidate Joni Ernst warned that she carries her pistol just in case the government tries to confiscate it: “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere. But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

7. If You Vote For Democrats, They’ll Let Loose Violent African-American Inmates: In Nebraska’s second congressional district, Republicans are running a Willie Horton-esque ad that implies Democrats were responsible for a mentally ill violent inmate being released and then going on a murder spree. The ad juxtaposes the Democratic candidate with the African American inmate.

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8. Obama Is Going To Import Terrorists Into Our Neighborhoods: The RNC cut an adwarning of Obama’s “plans to bring terrorists from Guantanamo to our country,” implying that under any successful executive action somehow terrorist suspects will be walking American neighborhoods rather than be sitting in maximum-security prisons.

9. Equal Pay Laws Would Scare Employers And Put Women Out Of Work:Monica Wehby, running for Oregon’s Senate seat, said that she opposed equal pay laws for women because it would “make it more difficult to hire women, because of the fear of lawsuits. They would tend to steer away.”

10. Social Programs Are Leading To Suicide: Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said that government social programs are leading to a rise in suicides due to corresponding decline in support from family and friends. He eventually apologized.

What’s scarier, these lies or the fact the GOP thinks Americans will fall for them?

The right’s sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

The right's sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

Gov. John Kasich (OH-R) | (Credit: AP/Tony Dejak)

Salon

Ohio’s GOP governor was the darling of the right — until he sought to help poor people, in the name of Christ

Could Republican Gov. John Kasich run for president? According to the Washington Post, he’s poised to, and he certainly seems to be among the better options out there, with the other obvious choices either clearly deranged (Ted Cruz) or totally uninterested (Mitt Romney). But conservatives have not been roundly pleased with Kasich, in part because he is evidently something of a committed Christian.

Last year, Kasich fought doggedly to expand Medicaid coverage in Ohio, extending healthcare to some 275,000 poor people. When queried as to why a conservative would push for expanded coverage, Kasich explained his reasoning thus:

“I had a conversation with one of the members of the legislature the other day. I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith.  Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’  ”

Conservative critics did not have a good answer. If Kasich’s challenge required a faith-based, well-reasoned critique of Medicaid to defend Republican animus, that wasn’t what it received. Instead, Kasich’s right-wing opponents produced a series of attacks that seemed straight out of the Richard Dawkins school of rhetoric. At RedState, for instance, Jason Hart complained that “Kasich leaned heavily on his Christian faith to push the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” and glossed over Kasich’s explanation of his Christian reasoning as: “anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for their opposition when they die.”

Of course, Kasich didn’t suggest that anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for such at the pearly gates; he merely pointed out that, at this point in time, Medicaid expansion is the only option for extending healthcare coverage to poor people in Ohio, making it the most sensible Christian option. Were there other options – that is, if Republicans had some small-government program that resulted in equal or better coverage – Kasich’s argument would fall out in favor of that. But as it stands no such substitute exists. It’s notable that misrepresenting Kasich’s Christian defense of Medicaid expansion remains a popular smear. Consider the National Review’s Avik Roy:

Roy’s lie is as glib as it is lazy, suggesting two simultaneous pathologies: first, that conservatives have mostly given up on an actual faith-based critique of extending healthcare coverage to poor people; second, that unless Christianity is acting as a helpful crutch to prop up libertarian fiscal policies, it’s more or less a joke.

True to form, the Wall Street Journal had an absolute field day making fun of Kasich’s Christian reasoning. “Believe it or not, there are still a few disciples with faith in an ObamaCare higher power,” the article titled “Medicaid and the Apostle Kasich” opens, and the faith-themed snark just rolls on from there. Both theologically tone-deaf and redolent with Hitchensian disdain of Christian thought, the piece sneers that Kasich “really must feel like he’s guided by the Holy Spirit” (perish the thought!), and sniffs that Kasich’s “government-as-thy-brother’s-keeper riff needs some moral fine-tuning.” But the most damning line is the last: “Republicans get a vote before St. Peter does.”

It seems this is where Kasich and his critics depart: For the governor, and for any faithful Christian, Christian ethics precede party politics. For some time the line from Christian politicians like Paul Ryan has been that their faith inspires their political affiliation, not vice versa. But the response of various conservative venues to a Christian argument that, while theologically orthodox and sensible, nonetheless reverses a cherished partisan position, suggests another situation of priorities.

Kasich’s sin is to present a vision of fiscal conservatism that is limited rather than necessitated by Christian ethics. His argument, despite what Roy, Hart and the Wall Street Journal would present, is actually sophisticated: He points out that Christian doctrine directly requires the consideration of the poor ahead of the interests of profit. It is not that Christian doctrine has traditionally held that any profit from business is wrong (though more radical strands have moved in that direction), but that excess wealth has generally been viewed by Christian authorities as acceptable only insofar as the needs of the most vulnerable have been met. This is foundational, ancient Christian teaching, ranging from the earliest church fathers to the medieval scholars and into the modern day.

Naturally, Kasich’s critics don’t bother to attempt a reversal on theological grounds. Instead they suggest, pace Hart, that there is some small-government solution directly at hand that Kasich has ignored. Yet they have roundly failed to produce it. If you could link to a policy proposal that better accomplishes the goal of ensuring the poor healthcare coverage, why sneer about “hating Jesus” instead?

Because, it seems, the comedy of Christian sentiment opposed to conservative dogma is rote among right-wingers. Conservatives are smart to saturate airwaves with turf wars over social issues, wherein they’re more than happy to prop up Christian views; but Christian voters should be wary of the swiftness and viciousness with which conservatives seem prepared to dismiss even perfectly solid Christian reasoning altogether when it no longer suits them. If party policy is that the interests of the GOP precede the interests of the Prince of Peace, there’s not much room for negotiation.