Republicans

HYPOCRISY ALERT: Republicans Want The Pope To Stop Inserting Religion Into Politics

File:Pope Francis at Varginha (2).jpg | Wikimedia Commons

ADDICTING INFO

Republicans love to pretend that they are the party of Jesus. They work tirelessly at pandering to the Christian-right vote. They believe we should be a nation of laws based upon Christian principles. However, there’s just one thing missing — the Christian principles.

If we, as a nation, were to abide by the teachings of Jesus from the Christian Bible, we would have health care for all, no death penalty, the wealthy would help pay for the poor, and everyone would love their neighbor as themselves. Pretty much everything Republicans adamantly stand against.

So when a Republican like Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina comes out and says:

“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do.”

This is of course in reference to Pope Francis recently coming out in favor of Palestine becoming its own state. And heaven forbid, anyone, especially the Pope come out in favor of something that may actually work, let alone something that isn’t just pro-Israel all the time. Republicans pretty much consider Israel the 51st state of the Union. The Vatican’s statement wasn’t even anti-Israel, it was pro-peace — you know, another Christian principle, so of course Republicans are against it.

The biggest foes to the teachings of Jesus in the United States are Republicans. They boast his name, but know nothing of his teachings. For them, it’s pretty much just a means to get votes and try to make excuses as to why they are discriminatory bigots.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said of the Pope’s views:

“He’s a religious figure and he has every right to have his political viewpoint, but someone of that profile should have strong scriptural foundation for whatever positions he takes that are extensively representing the head of the Catholic Church. I think this is probably one he should not have expressed.”

So wait, someone with strong religious principles should keep their opinions to themselves regarding politics? Let me make sure to write that one down for later the next time a Republican tries to say that the United States is a Christian nation. Maybe they should just keep those opinions to themselves — which, might I add, actually is the correct thing to do.

The Pope however, is more than just someone with strong religious principles, he is, in fact, a world leader. One who can promote change where change can seem impossible. So was it correct for the Pontiff to insert himself into this matter? Perhaps so. He could have a direct impact on the region and potentially help broker long-awaited change.

However, Republicans are not wrong in asserting that religious opinions should stay out of politics.

Now, if only they could realize this about themselves.

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Jeb’s secret Jersey mission

NASHUA, NH – APRIL 17: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Politico

The Bush campaign goes behind enemy lines to pick off Chris Christie’s supporters.

Jeb Bush is quietly waging a behind-the-scenes offensive to pick off disillusioned home-state supporters of Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor whose presidential prospects have dimmed in recent months.

Bush’s effort to undermine Christie’s network of donors, power-brokers, and political players is conducted mainly through emails and phone conversations — and he tracks the progress closely.

At a get-together with donors in Miami last weekend, Bush sat down for a private conversation with Lawrence Bathgate, a prominent New Jersey attorney and former Christie donor who is now behind the Florida Republican. During the talk, Bathgate, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, outlined to Bush a plan to have a majority of the state’s 16 Republican state senators endorse him.

Bush responded with a question. How soon, he wanted to know, would the endorsements start to roll in? And could some of them be announced sooner rather than later?

The former Florida governor is said to court Christie boosters with frequent emails and makes himself accessible to them. “He’s a great emailer,” said Hersh Kozlov, a major Republican Party fundraiser in New Jersey and former Christie supporter who’s now with the former Florida governor.

The attempts to crack the Christie network — both are in competition for the same group of moderate and establishment Republicans — dates back at least to January, not long after Bush launched his presidential exploratory committee. At the time, Bush met with around a dozen New Jersey Republicans for dinner at New York City’s Union Club. He started out the meeting in a surprising way, telling those gathered that they should feel free to ask him anything — no holds barred. One person took him up on the challenge, posing a question to him about his daughter’s struggle with drug addiction.

For months, Bush and his finance chief, Heather Larrison, have been reaching out to New Jersey donors. Once a financial commitment is secured, they typically ask that person for names of friends or associates in the state who might also want to give.

As Christie’s fortunes have seemed to fade amid his sagging polling numbers, fiscal problems at home and fallout from the Bridgegate scandal — on Friday a former political ally of the governor pleaded guilty and two other former officials were indicted for their alleged roles in the affair — Bush’s efforts have ramped up.

Last month, Bush landed his biggest catch yet: Joe Kyrillos, a longtime state senator who chaired Christie’s 2009 campaign. When Kyrillos, a former New Jersey Republican Party chairman, appeared at a Bush donor event in Miami last week, he was greeted with a hero’s welcome. At a private dinner, which was attended by around 350 of the former governor’s biggest benefactors, the senator was rewarded with a round of applause and a seat at Bush’s table.

Continue reading here…

GOP Delays Benghazi Report Until 2016 Proving It’s All About Politics, Not Those Who Died

Addicting Info

If only the GOP was this adamant about getting to the bottom of the tragedy on 9/11/01, but wait… that was under Republican leadership, and Bush was instead made a hero. It’s always about politicizing tragedies to their favor. Always.

Republicans have no shame. None whatsoever. When the September 11 attacks happened, on American soil mind you, we were told that we were attacked… because we just were, and Republicans didn’t blame President Bush and his administration – even though they did ignore intelligence that said attacks were imminent.

However, when the attacks on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, occurred on 9/11/12, well that was obviously the fault of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And godammit! Republicans are going to make sure they drag out and politicize the deaths of four Americans as long as they can in an effort to derail Clinton’s attempt at becoming the next President of the United States.

They don’t give a rat’s ass that the father of United States ambassador Christopher Stephens, who perished in the attack in Benghazi, asked that his son’s death not be politicized. Or the fact that 20 committee events and hearings have been held regarding the events on that fateful day, even committees run by House Republicans, debunking theories that there was any wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration. They will not let the matter rest until they can use it to keep Clinton out of the Oval Office. At least that’s their hope.

Now, the new House Benghazi committee is delaying their supposed “new” report until 2016 — months before the presidential election where Clinton will undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee. And who are they blaming for this delay?? The White House, of course.

The committee spokesman, Jamal Ware, told Bloomberg News in a statement:

“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations—all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion.”

Mmmhmm, yeah. That’s it. Never mind the countless other hearings and investigations that have already happened. This dead horse hasn’t only been kicked, but it’s been sent to the glue factory and is now being used to hold together the last semblance of an argument the Republicans have. It’s pathetic… and it’s continuing to prevent the families of the dead to grieve properly.

Of course, chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), denies that this delay has anything to do with the upcoming election, saying:

“Secretary Clinton’s decision to seek the presidency of the United States does not and will not impact the work of the committee.”

Hahahahaha (hold on, need to breathe) hahahahaha! Did he say that with a straight face?

I’m sure it’s just happenstance that the release of the report will magically coincide with the presidential election. Totally.

What will likely happen, because it’s happened with every other Benghazi report, is that the Obama administration will be cleared of any wrongdoing, and this entire charade of an investigation to bury the former Secretary of State will be able to be used to her advantage.

These Republicans are pathetic and morally bankrupt when it comes to politicizing tragedy. It’s clear they don’t care about getting to the bottom of what happened, because that’s already occurred. And if they did, they’d be more focused on going after the people who attacked us, just like with 9/11/01. They only care about hurting Clinton’s chance at the presidency, and that is the God’s honest truth.

AUTHOR:

Obama Ribs GOP: Obamacare Didn’t Bring ‘Death Panels, Doom’

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AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

TPM DC

“I mean we have been promised a lot of things these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case —death panels, doom, a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress,” Obama said, smirking during a speech highlighting the fifth anniversary of his signature healthcare law. “The budget they introduced last week would literally double the number of uninsured in America.”

Obama’s comments came a week after Republicans introduced a new House budget that gutted most of Obamacare but did not offer an alternative. Obama conceded part of the reasons Republicans hadn’t yet offered an alternative plan was because healthcare policy isn’t easy.

“And in their defense, there are two reasons why coming up with an alternative has proven to be difficult,” Obama said. “First, it’s because the Affordable Care Act pretty much was their plan before I adopted it!”

Obamacare, Obama said, was “based on conservative market based principles developed by the Heritage Foundation and supported by Republicans in Congress. And deployed by a man named Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to great effect. If they want to take credit for this law, they can. I’m happy to share it.”

There have been many efforts, Obama added, to reform the country’s healthcare system.

“And second, because health reform is really hard and people here who are in the trenches know that. Good people from both parties have tried and failed to get it done for a hundred years,” Obama said. “Because every public policy has some tradeoffs, especially when it affects one sixth of American economy and applies to the very personal needs of every individual American. Now we’ve made our share of mistakes since we passed this law. But we also know beyond a shred of a doubt that the policy has worked. Coverage is up, cost growth is at a historic low, deficits have been slashed, lives have been saved.”

Obama also said in the speech that he was ready to sign a major overhaul of Medicare negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

5 Obama Successes Republicans Have To Pretend Never Happened

5 Obama Successes Republicans Have To Pretend Never Happened

President Obama arrives at Bob Hope Airport via helicopter from LAX, en route to ABC Studios for an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

The National Memo

Republicans have consistently said that a president cannot take responsibility for a strong economy — unless of course he’s a Republican.

A weak economy, however, is always a Democratic president’s fault. And if a Republican president presides over the worst financial crisis in a half-century after seven years in office, that is clearly the fault of poor people.

President Obama is in an awkward position when it comes to the economy. It’s only great if you compare it to the last 14 years. But with 50 percent of America now saying in the latest CNN poll that his presidency is a success, he figures that he’s now allowed to “take a well-earned victory lap” by answering the question Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asked for four years: “Where are the jobs?”

“Well, after 12 million new jobs, a stock market that has more than doubled, deficits that have been cut by two-thirds, health care inflation at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years, manufacturing coming back, auto industry coming back, clean energy doubled — I’ve come not only to answer that question, but I want to return to the debate that is central to this country, and the alternative economic theory that’s presented by the other side,” the president said in Cleveland on Wednesday.

A sensible media would be debating which of Obama’s two great accomplishments — the stimulus or the Affordable Care Act — is a bigger success; which better proves that the government can successfully intervene to prevent suffering while reshaping our economy to be more sustainable; or about which Republicans were more wrong.

But conservatives won’t let that happen. They’ll focus on metrics that languished before Obama came into office — we’re very concerned about labor force participation all of a sudden! — and blast him for not solving all of the failures of conservative economics and foreign policies.

America should be used to Democratic presidents outperforming Republicans by now. While no administration is perfect, President Obama has staked strong claims for liberal values and policies that prove things Republicans have to pretend never happened.

  1. Proved trickle-down economics are wrong, again
    You don’t hear it mentioned often enough, but 2014 was the best year of job creation in this century. This is a key point, because it’s the first full year in which Obama’s economic policies really took hold. Most of the Bush tax breaks on the rich ended in 2013. And in 2014, new taxes on the wealthy and corporations kicked in to help 16 million Americans gain health insurance. The result was a job market like we haven’t seen since the’90s. As they did in 1993, Republicans claimed that asking the rich to pay a bit more would destroy the economy. So, of course, the opposite happened. It’s almost as if some tax hikes on the wealthy are good for the economy! But if Republicans admitted that, they’d have to give up their entire reason for existing, which is to comfort the most comfortable.
  2. Proved we can expand health insurance coverage and shrink the deficit.
    America’s long-term debt problems are largely built on conservatives’ unwillingness to do what every other advanced nation in the world does — insure everyone. As a result, we pay more and get worse results than almost every industrialized country in the world. Obamacare has shown that we can increase coverage dramatically while cutting more than $600 billion from long-term debt projections. Republicans have finally gotten honest in their new budget and admitted that their alternative to Obamacare is… nothing. They’ve got nothing because Obamacare was their alternative, and every prediction they’ve made about it has been wrong. Health spending isat a 50-year low, businesses aren’t dumping employees’ coverage, hospitals are performing better, and policy cancelations were likely lower than they were before the law. Meanwhile, Obama has been even more successful at shrinking the deficit as a percentage of GDP than even Bill Clinton.
  3. Proved that the government can kick-start a clean-energy revolution.
    When it comes to fighting climate change, President Obama has done more than anyone on Earth. Beyond the regulations he set in his first term, which are quickly reducing our dependency on dirty energy, the stimulus launched the clean-energy technological revolution this nation needed. Republicans started calling the stimulus “failed” before it even became law. And that kind of message discipline — plus half a billion dollars in ads that smeared the bill — scared Democrats from bragging about it. But now that we’ve experienced the first year of economic growth where carbon emissions didn’t increase in 40 years, maybe they should.
  4. Proved we can regulate Wall Street without killing the stock market.
    Good news! Bankers are complaining about being regulated too much. Despite this “over-regulation,” we’re seeing constant stock market records. Meanwhile, the memory of the costs of under-regulation — 8 million jobs and trillions in wealth — continues to fade. Democrats have become newly proud of the Dodd-Frank law now that they see how desperate Republicans are to gut it. The success in keeping the economic engine of the rich purring should not dissuade those on the left. Instead, they should continue to fight against the persistent dangers to our economy that come from ridiculous executive compensation schemesstock buybacks, and high-frequency trading.
  5. Proved that we should give diplomacy a chance.
    The Bush administration left America facing a newly nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran building nuclear centrifuges, and a wrecked Iraq, run by a propped-up sectarian strongman with no interest in reconciliation. Democrats were likely naive in assuming this Tower of Babel of foreign policy disasters could be kept from crumbling. The Obama administration’s effort to re-engage the world may seem foolhardy now — but what was the alternative? More confrontational Republican alternatives would have guaranteed nothing but more American lives lost. Syria is a disaster. Libya proved that regime change is never simple. Putin is emboldened or frantically flailing, depending on your point of view. But as a result of re-engagement with our allies and a Medvedev-led Russia, sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table. We’re closer than ever to a nuclear deal that could prevent another, still more disastrous war. And even if it fails, at least we tried not to repeat the catastrophes of the past.

Despite these successes, Republicans have to see Obama as a floundering, economy-shrinking, deficit-creating failure, or risk questioning their failed worldview.

Essentially, they have to pretend he’s Bobby Jindal.

GOP Hero: Where Bibi Leads, the GOP Will Follow

Nir Elias/Reuters

The Daily Beast

A day before his apparent victory in Israel, the prime minister rejected a two-state solution. Now expect Republicans to follow him—destroying a rare point of unity with Democrats.

Yes, it looks like Bibi Netanyahu has a better shot than Bougie Herzog does of forming the next government. There are many moving parts here, so it’s not completely set in stone. But the clear consensus by 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, an hour after the polls closed, was that Netanyahu and Likud have a clearer path to 61 seats than Herzog and the Zionist Union party do.

I’ll leave it to others who know the intricacies of Israeli politics better than I to parse all that. But let’s talk about the impact of a possible Netanyahu victory on our politics here in the United States. The answer is appallingly simple, I think: Though we won’t see this happen immediately or sensationally, it seems clear that, month by month and inch by gruesome inch, a Netanyahu win will move the Republican Party further to the right, to an unofficial (and who knows, maybe official) embrace of Netanyahu’s pivotal and tragic new position of opposition to a two-state solution.

Netanyahu declared said opposition, as you know, the day before the voting, when he stated, in a videotaped interview: “Whoever today moves to establish a Palestinian state and withdraw from territory is giving attack territory for Islamic extremists against the state of Israel. Whoever ignores that is burying his head in the sand.” When his questioner asked if this meant a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, the prime minister said: “Indeed.”

Now, it’s been known in Israel and America that this was Netanyahu’s true view of things for some time. He partially gave the game away last summer during a press conference. But he never quite said it as directly as he did Monday, in the culminating event of his final, frenzied, fear-mongering campaign. Israeli leaders of the major parties have at least officially supported a two-state solution for many years. But as of Monday, opposition to a two-state solution is official Israel policy, and as long as Bibi’s the boss, it will remain so.

The United States has officially supported a two-state solution at least since George H.W. Bush was president. Presidents of both parties, and even virtually all serious presidential contenders from both parties, have been on record in favor of a two-state solution. Each president has put varying spins on what it means, and has invested more (Bill Clinton) or less (George W. Bush) elbow grease in trying to bring such a solution about. But it has been the bipartisan position in the United States for 25 years or more, and that has meant there at least was a pretense—and sometimes more than that—of a shared goal somewhere down the road between Israel and Fatah (admittedly not Hamas).

Now Netanyahu has ditched that. How will our Republicans react? Well, they love Netanyahu. As they recently demonstrated to us all, he is, in effect, their president, at least on matters relating to the Middle East and Iran. Is it so crazy to think that what Bibi says, the Republicans will soon also be saying?

Now throw Sheldon Adelson into this stewpot. There are many reasons the Republican Party as a whole has become so epileptically pro-Israel in recent years: their ardor for Bibi, the power of the lobby, the influence of the Christian Zionist movement, and more. But another one of those reasons is surely Adelson. When you’re that rich and that willing to throw multiple millions into U.S. and Israeli electoral politics (to the GOP and Likud), you become influential. Adelson is completely opposed to a Palestinian state. “To go and allow a Palestinian state is to play Russian roulette,” he said in October 2013.

There is already a history of GOP candidates making their hajjes, so to speak, out to Adelson’s Las Vegas base of operations and saying what he wants to hear. John Judis wrote about this in The New Republic a year ago. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and John Kasich trotted out to Vegas and filled Adelson’s ear with pretty music. Judis: “The presidential hopefuls made no attempt to distinguish their views on Israel and the Palestinians from Adelson’s.” Christie even apologized for having once used the phrase “occupied territories”!

So here we are today: Bibi, their hero, has said it openly, and “proved” (for the time being) that saying it pays electoral dividends; their base certainly believes it; and Adelson and his checkbook make it potentially quite a profitable thing for them to say. So watch the Republican candidates start announcing that they’re against the two-state solution. Some will be coy about it (Bush, probably). Others—Ted Cruz, and I suspect Walker, who’s already been acting like foreign policy isjust a little make-believe game anyway, an arena that exists merely for the purpose of bashing Barack Obama and pandering to the base—will likely be less coy.

If this happens, do not underestimate the enormity of the change it heralds. As of now, I am told by people who know, no Republican legislator in Washington has explicitly disavowed a two-state solution. The closest Congress has come to doing so was on a 2011 resolution offered by ex-Rep. Joe Walsh that called for congressional support for Israeli annexation of “Judea and Samaria.” Walsh got a number of co-sponsors, 27 of whom are still in office.

But that was then. Four years later, Bibi is the American right’s über-hero, and there’s every reason to think Republicans will follow where he leads. And so a rare point on which our two parties were, however notionally, united, will likely be yet another point of division—and given the intensity of feeling here, bitter division. Republicans will think they can increase their percentage among Jewish voters. The current polls indicate that three-quarters to four-fifths of U.S. Jews (about the percentage that votes Democratic) back a two-state solution. But if Bibi proved anything these last few days, he proved that demagoguery and lies can alter percentages. Brace yourselves.

How Tea Party Republicans Stunned A Room Full Of Scientific Research Activists

MATT SALMON

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) talks with reporters outside of the RNC after a meeting of House republicans, July 15, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) | Tom Williams via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Two minutes into a speech Tuesday morning, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) turned to the subject of his hair. He had shaved his head recently to honor the top official at the research department at the University of Arizona, who had died from pancreatic cancer. It was growing back.

There was poignancy to the gesture — and a reason to mention it — since Salmon was addressing the American Cancer Society’s Stand Up To Cancer event in the Cannon House Office building. After explaining his buzz cut and recounting how the disease had affected the lives of those he knew, loved and respected, Salmon made a plea.

“I’m kind of an unlikely candidate to be here today probably for a lot of reasons,” he said. “I’ve been recognized by numerous groups as one of the most tight-fisted people in the entire Congress. … That having been said, I believe with all my heart and soul that if the federal government doesn’t lead the way on conquering cancer that it won’t get done.”

The audience, including hundreds of activists there to lobby lawmakers for biomedical research, was gleeful. A self-described fiscal hawk who once said he welcomed the idea of a government shutdown was calling for billions of dollars to be spent on their cause.

They’d have more reason to cheer soon after that. Addressing legislation that the audience was there to advocate — a $6 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health over two years ($1 billion of which would go to the National Cancer Institute) — Salmon insisted it was insufficient. The NIH, he explained, should see its budget grow to $40 billion by 2021 from roughly $30.1 billion, offset with cuts elsewhere.

“I want to fight this fight,” said Salmon. “I’ve lost one too many friends to this dreadful disease and I don’t want to see another person succumb to this.”

The cheers grew louder 10 minutes later, when Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas) took the mic. No shrinking violet on deficit hawkery, Yoder outlined a future for NIH that would make even the most audacious advocate blush.

“Why aren’t we spending $60 billion in NIH research?” said Yoder. “Honestly. I’m not a big fan of deficit spending. I’m not a big fan of deficits. Certainly, as a conservative Republican, I believe the fiscal health of our nation is one of the most critical issues long term. But I think I can go to my 16-month old daughter and I can say, ‘I borrowed money in your name to cure cancer’ and she would thank me.”

The audience was standing at that point. Rare, after all, are cases in which House Republicans openly advocate for more government spending. Rarer are those in which they say to put the bill on the nation’s credit card. But there are few causes less objectionable than fighting cancer. And, before a star-studded audience that included NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and actors Pierce Brosnan and Marcia Cross, all of whom spoke as well, speaker after speaker pledged their political and personal devotions to biomedical research.

The question just below the surface was whether that devotion could withstand the political pressures lingering just outside Cannon Room 345.

At roughly the same time as Salmon and Yoder were striking unorthodox notes, House Republicans formally released their proposed budget. The document gives nods of appreciation to the NIH and to scientific research in general and echoes many of the same warnings that emanate from the biomedical research community.

“The United States leadership role is being threatened, however, as other countries contribute more to basic research from both public and private sources,” the budget text reads. “Federal policies should foster innovation in health care, not stifle it. America should maintain its world leadership in medical science by encouraging competitive forces to work through the marketplace in delivering cures and therapies to patients.”

But there are no additional funds devoted to the NIH by the House GOP. Instead, the budget calls for cutting down “bureaucracy and red-tape.” Moreover, House Republicans dramatically diminish the pool of resources from which NIH and other government agencies must draw. Under the GOP blueprint, non-defense discretionary spending falls $44 billion below current budget caps in fiscal year 2017. In fiscal 2018, it would be $64 billion below those caps. In fiscal 2019, it would be $72 billion lower.

Will Allison, a spokesman for the House Budget Committee, noted that the appropriations committee would have the final say over how much money within those totals would go to NIH. The GOP budget, he noted, “assumes no savings in NIH.” In other words, it doesn’t call for a cut.

But simply maintaining NIH’s funding level is tantamount to diminishing it, since the agency’s spending power would decrease with inflation. That’s the predicament the institutes already face. Dr. Harold Varmus, the outgoing head of the National Cancer Institute, told attendees on Tuesday that while President Barack Obama’s budget would give the NIH a 3 percent increase in funding for the next fiscal year, it would still only “bring us back to the numbers we had in real dollars in 2010.” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), speaking after Salmon, noted that if NIH was granted $6 billion over the next two years, it would simply take “us back to the 2003 level, adjusted for inflation.”

And so, while deficit-conscious Republicans spent Tuesday morning waxing about a plush, well-funded NIH, some Democratic speakers tried to inject a bit of caution, without completely trampling the good vibes. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) one of the most vocal champions of increasing funding for biomedical research, recounted how more than a quarter-century ago, he helped build political pressure to outlaw cigarette smoking on airplanes. He then mentioned the speeches he’d just witnessed.

“I was struck as I watched, as one said, knuckle-dragging conservative Republicans come up here — that’s what he called himself, I’m not making fun of him — and say he was on our side,” Durbin said, referencing the description that Salmon had given himself. “And I thought, this is another moment just like that moment 25 years ago, when we banned smoking on airplanes.

“We have reached the point where we have to decide whether we are going to be discouraged by the powers that be in the political forces of dysfunction in Washington, or whether we are going to barrel through them on a bipartisan basis and make an investment in medical research,” Durbin said.

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.

Republicans Appoint Scientifically Illiterate Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA

Addicting Info

As part of the spoils of their midterm victories, Republicans now get to remake many of the congressional oversight committees that hold power over federal agencies. As is typical for the party that has for decades been moving from the ideology of “limited government” to “no government at all,” when it came to who would oversee the nation’s science programs, the GOP wasted no time in appointing one of their own who not only doesn’t agree with most current scientific discoveries, but has actively tried to defund science research in the past.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a man who doesn’t believe climate change is real and who’s dad recently claimed evolution was a communist lie to “convince you that you came from a monkey” as a way to disprove God, will now oversee the subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, including NASA. We’re screwed.

After all, Cruz is the kind of Tea Party extremist that probably cried during the Apollo moon landings – not because of the amazing achievement, but because that was money that could have been spent giving tax breaks to job creators. He has expressed no interest in science, and his anti-government agenda makes an agency like NASA a natural enemy.

However, as much as it may seem like a bad Onion article, a scientifically-ignorant Cruz is a very intentional pick by the Republican Party. Cruz’s appointment to oversee NASA fits the general trend of subcommittee appointments being motivated primarily by people with an agenda, rather than people with the requisite knowledge or interest in the field. Like many politicians, Cruz was tapped for the job specifically because he is anti-science and Republicans reason that animosity will make him a tough nut to crack when NASA comes to him for money.

In fact, we’ve already caught a glimpse of just how little Cruz thinks of NASA. In 2013, Cruz tried to slash funding to the space agency by sneaking an amendment into a spending authorization bill. Thankfully, Democrats in the Senate told him to get lost and removed the amendment before it could be finalized. Now the other party holds the power and Cruz looks hungry.

This may be convenient for Republicans eager to prove an ideological point, but it may be disastrous for – ironically – America’s space and science competitiveness. For example, much of the research NASA has been conducting – from space and here on earth – has been focused on the devastating effects of climate change. Arguably, it’s the most important research of the 21st century, because those effects will have dire consequences for people and the planet in the decades to come. But the terrifying thing is this: Cruz doesn’t believe any of it.

Unlike many of his conservative colleagues, Cruz doesn’t just believe climate change isn’t man-made, he doesn’t think it’s happening at all. In an interview with CNN last year, he was certain that he was right:

“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened,” said Cruz. “You know, back in the ’70sI remember the ’70s, we were told there was global cooling. And everyone was told global cooling was a really big problem. And then that faded.”

It’s a favorite conservative talking point, but it’s false. The world is definitely warming, and there are reams of data to support that conclusion. Cruz recalls the 1970s, but lets see if he can remember as far back as last year – also known as the hottest year ever recorded.

Cruz’s power over NASA comes at a crucial time in the agency’s history. Apart from the terrestrial-based science its researchers have been conducting, NASA has several major space projects cooking, including a proposed manned mission to Mars by 2030. With Cruz holding the purse strings, the funding for such ambitious projects now has to be called into question. For those of us who long to see the exploration of space put back on the national agenda, there is nothing good about an anti-science Tea Partier getting to decide whether or not that’s important enough to spend money on.

 

White House: GOP Keeping Scalise ‘Says A Lot About Who They Are’

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I wholeheartedly agree…

TPM LiveWire

The White House said on Monday that it’s up to Republicans to decide whether to keep House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the leadership team, but argued that their decision “says a lot about who they are.”

“There’s no arguing that who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about what the conference’s priorities and values are,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “Mr. Scalise reportedly described himself as David Duke without the baggage. So it’ll be up to Republicans to decide what that says about their conference.”

Earnest declined to call on House Republicans to remove Scalise from his position as the No. 3 leader in the conference, after the congressman admitted last week that he spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002. Other House Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), are standing by Scalise, while acknowledging that he made a mistake.

“It is the responsibility of members of the House Republican conference to choose their leaders,” Earnest said. “Who they choose to serve in their leadership says a lot about who they are, what their values are and what the priorities of the conference should be.”

H/t: DB