At this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) suggested that everything that went wrong during the first two years of President Obama’s term must be laid at his feet because Obama “got everything he wanted” from Congress while both houses were controlled by Democrats. As a new ThinkProgress video demonstrates, this exact phrase has clearly become the centerpiece of the GOP’s messaging this election cycle. Watch it:
As the video also reminds these Republicans, however, there’s one giant problem with their talking point — the Senate GOP’s unprecedented abuse of the filibuster. Indeed, the number of votes attempting to break Sen. McConnell’s use of this tactic more than doubled the minute he took over as minority leader:
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the anti-immigrant official who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, has claimed his extreme laws have had no damaging effects on state economies where they have been implemented. He is an advisor to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate with the most extreme immigration plan, and Kobach has said he favors an “attrition through enforcement” national immigration plan, also known as self-deportation.
Kobach repeated his support for a self-deportation policy at a CPAC panel about immigration because it would serve as a jobs plan. To back up the claim, he said the immigration measures in Alabama and Arizona have helped the state economies. With 13 million Americans looking for jobs, Kobach said during the panel that deporting undocumented immigrants would open opportunities for those job seekers:
If it becomes our national policy we will accomplish many things, the restoration of the rule of law, and we will also create jobs for Americans all across America. [...] If you really want to create a job and you don’t want to use words like shovel-ready and do it through a gov program, here’s an idea for you: If you want to create a job for a U.S. citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today.
Of course, if Kobach were actually paying attention to the effects of his pet laws, he’d realize this claim simply isn’t true. In Alabama, one report shows that the state could lose as many as 140,000 jobs because of the state’s immigration law. After Latinos fled new, harmful immigration policies in Alabama and Georgia, farmers watched their crops rot in the field because they did not have enough workers to harvest them. Businesses in Arizona eventually turned against SB 1070, the state’s extreme immigration policy, because of the negative impact it had on jobs and the recovering economy.
And economists have reached the consensus that immigrants are good for the economy and help create jobs. And in 2010, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank released a study that conclusively found that “there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States.” The study, which did not distinguish between legal and undocumented immigrants, found that immigrants in the workforce have a “significant positive effect in the long run.”
No matter how many times Kobach claims self-deportation will create jobs — or how long Romney embraces extremely anti-immigrant policies — reports have show that his claims are simply wrong.
While it is no surprise that this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference was rife with anti-gay rhetoric, what was even more troubling was the framing of that rhetoric. For conservatives, social issues like marriage and discrimination are mere concepts, and throughout the conference they demonstrated their ability to discuss them as if LGBT people do not even exist.
Last week’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional was a frequent subject throughout the weekend, but not with any concern for the couples seeking to marry. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) teamed up with retired game show host Chuck Woolery to dismiss the decision, promoting the idea that the people’s vote is all that matters and “Majority rules.” Woolery even went as far as to reject all civil rights, claiming he’s discriminated against because he’s old and “a one percenter.” National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman also claimed the Prop 8 ruling will have “catastrophic consequences for civil society.”
Others at the conference expressed that bullying and violence against LGBT people should persist. The President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) attacked the United Nations for urging countries to protect LGBT people from persecution and execution, suggesting that “their theory of international law is done by lying, coercion, and trickery.” Focus on the Family’s Candi Cusman, meanwhile, continued her crusade against anti-bullying efforts, suggesting that “sexual advocacy” groups were hijacking the safe school message to indoctrinate young people. At no point did they express concern for the actual victims of harassment or acknowledge that the harassment was even taking place. Tea Party activist Kevin Jackson didn’t hesitate to further demonize LGBT people by claiming the Left has ”changed the definition of pedophilia.”
All of this rhetoric fed into the weekend’s condemnation of America’s diversity. For example, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and a panel of white nationalists discussed how “the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American identity.” It’s no wonder conservatives are so unsympathetic to the plight of LGBT people — they refuse to admit we even exist.
WASHINGTON, DC — Since President Obama took office in January 2009, Republicans have been quick to heap blame on him for every bit of poor economic news, no matter how large or small. In recent months, however, with jobs numbers improving and signs that the economy is rebounding becoming more evident, the same Republicans haven’t been as quick to praise the president.
Richard Mourdock, the insurgent Republican Senate candidate in Indiana who is locking in a primay contest against Sen. Richard Lugar (R), took a similar tack this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, telling ThinkProgress that while Obama’s policies were responsible for making the economy worse early in his term, the recent improvement has occurred in spite of Obama’s policies:
KEYES: If the economy does continue to improve over the next few months, is that something you’d be willing to give President Obama credit for, or not?
MOURDOCK: The American economy is incredibly resilient because Americans are incredibly resilient. It won’t be because of President Obama when we see recovery, it will be in spite of President Obama. He wants to add more and more layers of government, more and more government sector unions. Those are killing our economy. And while it’s possible we might see some recovery, it would be doing a whole lot more if we were rolling back the size of government.
The Mourdock stance is common in the GOP — presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a similar view following the January jobs report, as did House Speaker John Boehner.
The facts, however, tell a different story. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, despite Republican claims, has been a success, and since its implementation, the economy has added jobs for 23 consecutive months. The auto bailout, another favorite Republican target, has also worked, saving thousands of jobs and returning American automakers to profitability for the first time in a decade.
If anything, the economy is improving in spite of the best efforts of the Republicans Mourdock is trying to join in Congress. Republicans have targeted positive economic programs that benefit the less fortunate — like food stamps and unemployment insurance — for spending cuts, all while blocking other Obama proposals — like the American Jobs Act — that experts say would have had a positive effect on the nation’s economic recovery.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked the crowd, “What is happening to our liberty?,” before launching into a long-winded story about how he took back his freedom by replacing the energy-efficient “curlicue bulbs” at the Capitol with “good Edison light bulbs.” At some point during his anecdote, King even went so far as to compare the Capitol Hill janitors who replaced his incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient ones to “East German communist secret police, describing them as “Nancy [Pelosi]‘s Stasi troops.”
So I got this green bag right here. And I filled it up with the black market light bulbs. And I brought them back to my office here in the Capitol. Whenever I need to put a bulb in the lamp, I reach in this green bag and I screw it in there and smile. A little bit of my liberty back. A little bit of our freedom back. And I want to challenge you to do the same thing. Bring back some of that liberty, some of that freedom.
Following his attack on energy-efficient light bulbs, Rep. King took on the water-saving showerhead in his shower, before bringing his tirade to a close with the declaration, “I want my liberty back!”
The new light bulb efficiency standards have faced strong opposition from members of the GOP, who consider the rules not only a ban on light bulbs, but as another example of unneccessary federal regulation. Environmentalists and energy-efficiency business groups disagree and are quick to point out that the standards do not ban incandescent light bulbs, but requires them to be more efficient. Despite the GOP’s best efforts to pass measures that would block funding for the standards’ enforcement, The Energy Department rules went into effect at the beginning of the year.
Newt At CPAC: ‘Eliminate The Environmental Protection Agency’ |
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich repeated his call for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, blaming it for killing jobs and lacking “common sense.” He later called for the elimination of the Department of Energy, which manages the nation’s nuclear power, weaponry, and waste, and is leading America’s investment in clean technology.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of protesters, chanting “We are the 99 percent” and waving signs decrying corporate tax dodging and other issues, marched in front of the Marriott Wardman hotel in Woodley Park, the site of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, this afternoon.
Occupy CPAC, as protesters dubbed it, featured a giant inflatable “corporate fat cat,” and four protesters were dressed in blue and white baseball uniforms (resembling those of the Los Angeles Dodgers) that read “Tax Dodgers,” a reference to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. For more than a half hour, the protesters chanted and marched outside the hotel.
View pictures of the protest:
Many of the conference’s attendees ventured out of the hotel to watch the protests, and as protesters chanted “We are the 99 percent!” one attendee screamed back, “No, you are the bottom one percent!” Others stood around laughing, while one looked to another attendee and said, “G–damn Occupiers. F–k those guys. This is America.”
As a group of protesters attempted to move up the hotel’s driveway toward the entrance, police blocked them and threatened them with arrest for violating public property rights. At that point, members of the media covering CPAC who had gone outside to cover the protest were also forced back into the hotel with threats of arrest. According to one organizer affiliated with the march, roughly 500 protesters participated in the march.
Speaking on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, Lee admitted to the full implications of his backwards view of our founding document. All spending on national programs intended to secure Americans’ retirement or provide for their health are unconstitutional:
QUESTION: What programs that we now call entitlement spending are part of the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8 [of the Constitution]?
LEE: There are those that will tell you that those are based on the Spending Clause, in, uh, clause one of Article I, Section 8. That was the justification advanced at the time these programs were created. And it rested on an expansive interpretation provided by the Supreme Court saying, in essence, Congress can spend anything it wants, as long as it has tax revenues coming in, or, as it turns out, even if it doesn’t. It can spend it on whatever it wants.
This can’t be reconciled with the original understanding of the clause. If you go back to founding era documents, to discussions around state ratification debates — the Federalist Papers — they understood the Spending Clause as being there to spend money on those powers that were duly enumerated. . . . If these kinds of programs, ah, were to come forward and we were really following the original understanding of the Constitution, we’d say let’s do these at the state level, and the local level. Never at the federal level.
Lee’s odd reading of the Constitution cannot be squared with the text of the document itself. Had Lee actually bothered to read the founding document, he’d know that the United States may “collect taxes . . . to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” Medicare, Social Security and other such safety net programs clearly provide for the nation’s “general welfare” and thus are unambiguously constitutional if you take the text of the document seriously.
Alexander Hamilton led a different faction which rejected the idea that the Constitution creates restrictions that don’t exist in its text, and the Supreme Court unanimously adopted Hamilton’s view in the very first Supreme Court decision to consider the question. More recently, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia laughed openly at the suggestion that this debate should be reopened, stating that “of course it’s not” the proper role of judges to second guess how Congress decides to spend money.
In other words, Lee’s position doesn’t just place him at the lunatic fringe of constitutional thinkers, it also puts him at the lunatic fringe of conservative constitutional thinkers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There isn’t much Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) finds constitutional, from child labor laws and food safety protections to medical malpractice reform, FEMA, and poverty aid. Apparently, though, Lee’s version of the Constitution protects employers’ rights to fire workers just because they are gay.
Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), ThinkProgress asked Lee if he supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Lee explained that he didn’t, saying that the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause was only intended to protect against racial discrimination:
KEYES: ENDA is something that rumbles every now and then in Congress. What’s your take, do you think it should be legal to fire someone just because they’re gay or transgender, or do you think that’s not in the purview of the Constitution?
LEE: Look, I think employers ought not make their hiring decisions based on categories like that, and I don’t think most of them do.
KEYES: But whether or not it should be a crime.
LEE: Whether it should be a federal crime, specific to federal law? No. I think the federal government has expanded its role into regulation of matters that historically that were in the purview of the states. [...]
KEYES: Is there any difference between firing someone for being gay rather than firing someone because of their race?
LEE: Yes, yes. The 14th Amendment — in fact the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments — were adopted specifically around the race issue. So, yeah, there is a difference.
In January, LGBT work rights groups ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to issue an executive order prohibiting the government from contracting with companies that do not have non-discrimination policies protecting LGBT workers, but the White House has yet to publicly embrace the policy. According to one report, 16 million workers would receive expanded protections from such an order.
Obama supports expanded protections for LGBT workers, but Lee’s views aren’t just out-of-step with the president and leading Democrats. According to recent polls, a majority of Republican voters also support expanding ENDA to protect LGBT workers from workplace discrimination.
Rick Santorum, who scored several wins this week in the Republican presidential race, told a cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC this morning that climate change is a leftist scientific conspiracy to destroy America. He railed that the “facade of man-made global warming” might convince people with the “sentimentality” to be “stewards of this earth” to think there should be limits on the burning of fossil fuels:
One of the favorite things of the left is to use your sentimentality, and your proper understanding and belief that we are stewards of this earth and we have a responsibility to hand off a beautiful earth to the next generation. They use that and they have used it in the past to try to scare you into supporting radical ideas on the environment. They tried it with this idea, this politicization of science called man-made global warming. President Obama, you may remember, tried to pass cap-and-trade and tried to get control not only of the health care system but of the energy industry, the manufacturing industry, another two big sectors of this economy, and using this facade of man-made global warming. I stood up and fought against those things. Why? because they will destroy the very foundation of prosperity in our country.
Santorum argued that his public embrace of the radical conspiracy theory that the world’s scientific community has concocted the greenhouse effect to enable socialists to take over the fossil fuel industry will help him win the White House.
“They try to scare you and intimidate you to trust them and give them more power,” Santorum concluded. “We need somebody who is willing to go out on these big issues of the day and draw contrasts.”