In his speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tried to cast doubt about President Barack Obama’s faith, hinting that he might be lying or misleading Americans about his religion.
Huckabee labeled President Obama a “self-professed evangelical” — an assertion that is, first and foremost, incorrect, but one that nevertheless seems imply that Obama’s profession is different than the truth. The line that was not off-the-cuff, but in his prepared remarks:
Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical. Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care.
Welcome to ThinkProgress’ primetime Wednesday coverage of the Republican National Convention. We’re here all night to fact check and debunk the claims of the GOP’s brightest stars. Here is our guide to Wednesday’s speakers.
10:56: Ryan pokes fun at Mitt. Jokes that the songs on his iPod can also be heard in “many hotel elevators.”
10:50: Ryan reiterates Romney’s goal of capping spending to 20 percent of GDP by 2016 — while growing defense spending and cutting taxes. That would require drastic cuts in programs “such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty.”
10:45: Ryan compares the U.S. debt situation to Europe’s. Across the Atlantic, the austerity policies Ryan favors have pushed nations into second recessions, made the debt situation even worse, and caused unemployment to skyrocket.
10:44: Obama hasn’t amassed more debt than all past presidents combined, as Ryan claimed. The New York Times beaks down the math: “The national debt stood at $10.626 trillion on the day that President Obama took office. It now stands slightly above $15 trillion.”
10:27: Here comes vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to tell us about the debt that is strangling America…after voting to add $6.8 trillion to it during his time in the House and proposing a budget plan that would pile on even more.
10:14: Rice referenced 9/11 at least twice during her speech, but like McCain, she didn’t mention that Osama bin Laden was killed.
10:08: Rice wants America to “show that we’re a compassionate nation of immigrants.” She should let Romney know. During the GOP presidential primaries, he said America should make immigrants’ lives so miserable that they would choose to leave the country on their own.
10:03: Though the Republican party is widely skeptical of climate change, Rice takes a more progressive stance. She called the US “a major emitter” and said that it is “not above the internation community on this issue.”
10:01: Rice said “you cannot lead from behind.” Yet she endorsed Obama’s so-called “leading from behind” strategy in Libya. “I think it’s good that others can take lead like the British and French,” she said.
9:57: Rice sells the Iraq war in 2003: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly [Saddam Hussein] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” She didn’t mention the war in her remarks tonight.
9:57: Rice criticizes Obama on Syria and wonders where America stands. President Obama has said: “We will help because we stand for principles that include universal rights for all people and just political and economic reform. The suffering citizens of Syria must know: we are with you, and the Assad regime must come to an end.”
9:54:Huckabee boasts that he’s helped fight AIDS with the ONE campaign, but the homophobia he spews and abstinence-only policies he supports contribute to the HIV epidemic.
9:49: Huckabee accuses Obama of waging a war on Catholics, referring to an Obamacare provision which requires employers and insurers to offer women birth control. But the measure exempts houses of worship and religiously-affiliated institutions from the requirement.
9:48: Huckabee raises doubts about Obama’s religion. Calls him a “self-professed evangelical” who “tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government.”
9:46: Huckabee has been the most vocal supporter of Todd Akin in the immediate wake of his “legitimate rape” comments.
9:43:: Huckabee reprises Newt Gingrich’s “food stamp president” line about Obama, ignoring that the growth in food stamps was due to a recession that began before Obama took office. The program has helped keep millions out of poverty, but it faces the axe under Paul Ryan’s budget. A diverse group of faith leaders has condemned the cuts.
9:40: Pretty tasteless line from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: “The only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz practicing her speech for the DNC in Charlotte next week.”
9:30: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) attacks Obamacare, which he labeled “Obamneycare” during the GOP presidential primaries. Here he is explaining himself in front of Mitt Romney:
9:22: Puerto Rican children are suffering the worst rates of poverty out of anywhere in the United States. Eighty percent of kids in Puerto Rico live in high-poverty areas.
9:20: Fortuño says the “government must get out of the way.” But just three years ago, he “appealed to the Obama administration for federal assistance” to help balance the island’s $3.2 billion budget deficit.
9:16: The National Review gave Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño the title of “Puerto Rico’s Scott Walker” — and that’s not a compliment. Fortuño has presided over huge cuts to his island’s budget; he suspended all collective bargaining rights for two years; and he stopped all salary increases for public employees for two years.
9:15: Business owner Steve Cohen blasts Obama’s “war on coal,” which has led to a 15-year high in Appalachian mining jobs.
9:09: Ryan will give middle and lower class Americans “hope and opportunity for the future,” Portman claims. Forgets to mention that Ryan’s budget gets 62% of its non-defense budget cuts from programs like Pell Grants and job training:
“You agree that these claims that the work requirement has been abolished are false?” asked MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. “As far as I have seen,” Brownback replied.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), however, declined to take the same step. Initially, Kasich said that the work requirement had been “eroded.” But after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews played the clip of Brownback’s answer and asked Kasich if he could say the same, Kasich replied that he hasn’t had time to examine the issue. However, he did say that he refused to sign onto a letterthat the Romney campaign has been circulating on the welfare issue:
MATTHEWS: Can you give that same answer from what you have seen? They haven’t removed the welfare requirement — work requirement yet? They haven’t done it yet? You say eroded. I don’t know what that means. Is it gone or is it still in place? Can you get welfare without working?
KASICH: I don’t know the answer to that, Chris. In fact, I was asked to sign a letter as I was going out the door to head down to this convention before I had a chance to study the whole issue. I said, look, I’m going to pass on this letter until I understand the whole issue.
Kasich is the governor of a major state, and the Romney campaign has been using this attack for weeks, yet he claims he hasn’t had any time to look into it. But that didn’t stop him from presuming that the claims are true. Campaign officials, meanwhile, have simply laughed off questions about the false ads, while campaign pollster Neil Newhouse told BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
The nation’s five biggest banks agreed to a $25 billion foreclosure fraud settlement back in February that required them to provide $17 billion of mortgage relief to troubled homeowners. However, one of the banks, Bank of America, is hardly holding up its end of the bargain. According to a new report, as of June 30, Bank of America had not modified a single mortgage under the settlement to reduce the amount that a borrower owes:
Bank of America Corp is lagging other banks in quickly executing mortgage modifications required by the U.S. government as part of the $25 billion foreclosure settlement finalized in March, according to a report released on Wednesday…Unlike its competitors, Bank of America did not finalize any modifications of first-lien mortgages and also did not complete any refinances by June 30.
Bank of America admitted earlier this month that it was lagging behind on loan modifications, but this report shows just how incompetent the bank has been when it comes to moving homeowners into more sustainable mortgages. Bank of America does lead the settlement banks affected in getting its borrowers through short sales, but as Firedoglake’s David Dayen explained, “the idea of banks granting short sales as a punishment for defrauding consumers and state courts is ridiculous. They’re all too happy to get a higher price for a short sale than they would get in foreclosure, with the added benefit of never having to take the foreclosed home and maintain it.”
The U.S. Geological Survey led a study last year that found, “Drier conditions projected to result from climate change in the Southwest will likely reduce perennial vegetation cover and result in increased dust storm activity in the future.”
Dust-Bowlification’s threat to food security is probably the biggest impact that climate change will have on most people for most of this century, as I discussed in my 2011 Nature article, “The Next Dust Bowl.”
And dust storms can be an amplifying feedback for droughts and dust storms, as dust storm expert William Sprigg, a professor in the University of Arizona’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics, explained:
Sprigg mentioned a further danger posed by dust storms in the dry region: their potential to self-propagate. As dust settles on the Rocky Mountains, it speeds up the snowpack’s melt, which then depletes the amount of water available in the summer. The result could be a worsening drought and increased chances of further dust storms. “It’s a bad cycle,” he said.
But dust poses direct dangers to human health, that “go far beyond common respiratory ailments,” according to Sprigg.
Dust storms carry a noxious mix of fungi, heavy metals from pollution, fertilizers, stockyard fecal matter, chemicals and bacteria, which can cause cardiovascular disease, eye diseases and other illnesses.
And while bigger, more frequent storms are only likely to increase the number of people suffering from diseases that health officials know are linked to dust, and possibly amplify their effects, medical science still does not have an accurate accounting of the full effects of breathing those pathogens.
A 1935 study, in Public Health Reports, “Dust Storms and Their Possible Effect on Health” concluded:
The “immediate” effects are shown in the increase in morbidity and mortality from the acute infections of the respiratory tract.
The study also reported Kansas experienced its “most severe measles epidemic,” together with “abnormally high rates of strep throat, respiratory problems, eye infections and infant mortality during the intense dust storms that struck from February to May of that year.” HuffPost notes:
The same regions that were affected then — from New Mexico to the Dakotas — may be at greatest risk from dust storms in the future, said Dale Griffin, an environmental health microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Griffin points to the unsustainable strip farming methods of the 1920s and ’30s, and consecutive years of desiccating heat and high winds that combined to devastate a large swath of the country. And he agrees with Sprigg that conditions today could favor more of the same….
“Because of climate change, it looks like we’re possibly shifting into a phase similar to what occurred in the 1930s, or worse,” said Griffin. “We may be seeing an increase in dust storms that could affect human health.”
Texas and Oregon are among the regions already seeing a rise in such events. Haboobs — severe thunderstorms that kick up massive amounts of dust — have blanketed Phoenix more frequently in recent years, including one headline-grabber last July.
Here’s a time-lapse video of that amazing Phoenix haboob:
It’s no surprise a storm like that might harm people. The key point is, as Sprigg said, ”Anything that is loose on the soil is going to be picked up by these storms.” And that can include a lot of diseases:
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has had a prominent role in shaping the Republican Party’s platform, including support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Bridge Project noticed an interview Perkins did with CNSNews.com today in which he claimed that only a “very small minority” of Americans support marriage equality:
PERKINS: I think this is the year of contrast. This is the year of contrast when you look at the party platforms. The Republican Party has very strong language as it pertains to natural, traditional marriage.The Democratic Party going the way of a very small minority in this country and embracing same-sex marriage, which undermines the 32 states that have voted on this, the 30 states that have constitutional amendments. I think that’s in your face to those states that have constitutional amendments.
Apparently Perkins believes a “very small minority” means the same thing as a “consistent majority” and “the Democratic Party.” Over the past two years, polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Of course, the Democratic Party has also endorsed this position, in stark contrast to the platform Perkins helped draft. Like all other issues related to LGBT people, Perkins has convinced himself of something that contradicts with the reality of the world around him.
Now that the Republican Party has officially endorsed a stringent abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, it’s worth considering what widespread state-level abortion bans would mean for women across the country. According to new research, giving states the power to determine their own abortion legislation would create further divisions along racial and socioeconomic lines, since it would have an outsized impact on limiting the procedure for low-income women of color.
Researchers at Yale University and the City University of New York imagined a hypothetical situation in which Roe v. Wade was repealed and states were left to determine their own abortion legislation, projecting scenarios where either 31 or 46 states with anti-choice lawmakers banned the procedure. Within those two scenarios, researchers examined the average distance that women in each state would need to travel to get to the nearest abortion clinic. Since distance can be a huge deterrent in abortion access, they suggest that this data can be used to estimate future abortion rates across the country:
Researchers extrapolated the data on distance to find that the abortion rates among minorities would be 1.8 points lower than the rates among white women in the scenario involving a 31-state ban. Under the hypothetical 46-state ban, the difference between white women and nonwhite women would be even more stark, at 12.3 points. This suggests that poorer, nonwhite women would struggle more than their privileged counterparts to access a safe, affordable abortion procedure — potentially leading those women to seek harmful, illegal alternatives.
Despite the Republican politicians who tout rolling back Roe v. Wade as a panacea to abortion rates, leaving abortion laws up to the states would — in addition to severely limiting women’s reproductive freedom — introduce a host of new problems to contend with. By threatening equal access to medical services like abortion, state-level abortion bans would only further reinforce the racial and socioeconomic inequality that is already prevalent across the country.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Aug 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has often disagreed with the Republican party’s increasingly hardline immigration positions. He called GOP immigration policies “short-sighted” in June. And in January, he said that “it makes no sense” for states to pass harmful anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s and Alabama’s — both written by Kris Kobach, the Romney campaign’s informal immigration adviser — because they turn off Latino voters.
Bush repeated his criticism of his party’s immigration policies Tuesday:
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Republican National Convention, Bush repeated his frequent warning that the party must change its tone, an admonition he has frequently raised about the party’s hardline position on immigration.
“The future of our party is to reach out consistently to have a tone that is open and hospitable to people who share values,’’ he said, adding “the conservative cause would be the governing philosophy as far as the eye could see … and that’s doable if we just stop acting stupid.”
In an interview yesterday, Bush told Univision’s Jorge Ramos that the Republican party has an issue with its tone when talking to Latino voters, and he said “there’s a price to pay” for continuing to focus on extreme immigration laws. “You have to show a respect that the louder, angrier voices of the Republican party don’t understand,” Bush added.
Increasingly, the Republican party is becoming more extreme on immigration issues. Mitt Romney staked out most far-right positions on immigration during the GOP primary, and the only area of immigration policy where he has been consistent is his support for harsh enforcement measures, like state laws to mirror Arizona’s SB 1070 and encouraging self-deportation. The GOP’s platform even calls for cutting off federal funds from colleges that offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, which would endanger Pell Grants and research funding.
As Ann Romney insists that Latino voters need to “get past some of their biases” and support Republicans, it’s unlikely that GOP officials will take Bush’s advice and moderate their immigration policies.
TAMPA, Florida — A longtime GOP congressman predicted that this year’s Republican Party platform will be the last to embrace marriage discrimination.
Former Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who served in Congress from 1985 to 2007 and came out of the closet in 1996, told ThinkProgress in an interview Wednesday that he thinks his party will drop the anti-gay planks when it holds its 2016 convention. “This is a purely generational issue,” Kolbe argued. “I would predict four years from now, the gay issue will not be mentioned on the party platform. It’s just going to disappear as an issue.”
KOLBE: The second thing I would say is that I think that this is a purely generational issue. It’s going to go away. In fact I would predict four years from now, the gay issue will not be mentioned on the party platform. It’s just going to disappear as an issue. Just as the no gays in the military disappeared this year from the party platform. That issue is settled now as far as the country is concerned. So I think this issue is settled, may not be in four years, but I’m predicting that it probably would be dropped from the platform in five years.
For Kolbe’s prediction to come true, it would require a massive shift among Republican attitudes towards LGBT rights. Due to the influence of social conservatives like Tony Perkins, this year’s Republican platform is “as anti-LGBT as ever,” according to ThinkProgress LGBT editor Zack Ford. Even the Log Cabin Republicans called the platform, which rejects recognition of both marriage equality and civil unions, “bad with a capital ‘B.’”
Our guest blogger is Seth Hanlon, Director of Fiscal Reform at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
A recent study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that Mitt Romney’s tax plan, which purports to be “revenue neutral,” would require households with incomes under $200,000 to pay higher taxes, on average, in order to finance tax cuts for the rich. In response, Romney economic advisor Martin Feldstein penned an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal claiming that Romney’s plan does not require such a tax increase.
Though Feldstein uses at least three sleights of hand to obscure the point, his analysis actually confirms TPC’s central finding. Here’s why:
1) Feldstein ignores Romney’s $1 trillion corporate tax cut, which is paid for by individual income tax increases.
Feldstein purports to show how reductions in tax breaks for high-income households could pay for a handful of Romney’s tax policies, including cuts in tax rates for individuals. But Feldstein conveniently ignores Romney’s tax cuts for corporations.
Romney’s plan would give corporations an “immediate” tax cut, cutting their rates from 35 percent to 25 percent. This tax cut would cost $96 billion in 2015 according to the Tax Policy Center (TPC) and more than $1 trillion over ten years. The TPC report did not even factor this massive corporate tax cut in their analysis of Romney’s plan under the very generous assumption that it would be fully paid for by eliminating business tax breaks.
But the Romney campaign has since made clear that the $1 trillion in corporate tax cuts aren’t paid for by any reductions in corporate tax breaks. Therefore, as the TPC researchers have noted, Romney’s corporate tax cuts would require “even larger cuts to tax expenditures [i.e. tax breaks], and correspondingly larger increases in taxes on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers,” than their original study found. Feldstein simply ignores all of this.
2) Feldstein redefines the “middle class.”
In crunching numbers to try to make Romney’s tax plan add up, Feldstein counts only those households with incomes under $100,000 as “middle class.” He purports to demonstrate that Romney’s plan can add up if deductions are eliminated for households over $100,000. But this simply confirms the Tax Policy Center’s conclusion that Romney’s plan does not add up without a tax increase on households with incomes under $200,000. (This table from TPC shows that households in the $100,000-$200,000 range stand to lose much more from the elimination of tax breaks than they would gain from Romney’s tax rate cut.)