|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
* Meet Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. If the Republicans once again take control of the House, he will be the Chair of the Budget Committee. Ryan believes -- and says out loud -- that Medicare, one of the most popular Federal programs in history, should be abolished and replaced with vouchers for private insurance. Let's recall that one of the ways Republicans stirred up opposition to health insurance reform was by falsely accusing Democrats of wanting to cut Medicare. They convinced some unwitting seniors that "Government" should keep its hands off Medicare -- which is, of course, a "Government" program. Democrats need to make it crystal clear in this campaign that Republicans -- who opposed Medicare from its inception -- actually want to abolish the program and hand over control of health care for America's seniors to the same private insurance companies responsible for driving up rates three times faster than wages while their profits have exploded.
* Congressman John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, has endorsed another Ryan proposal to raise the retirement age of Social Security to 70 years old -- a proposal that might go over fine with a guy like Boehner who makes speeches for a living. But it won't be very popular at all with someone who has laid bricks, or run an earth mover, or waited tables for forty-five years.
* The whole Republican crew wants to resurrect the failed Bush proposal to "privatize" Social Security. The defeat of Bush's privatization plan was the turning point in the Bush Presidency. It was all downhill from there. Yet -- whether it's to pad the investment accounts of their friends on Wall Street or because they are "private markets uber alles true believers" -- the Republicans want to try it again. Only this time retirees won't have to work very hard to imagine what it would have been like if their Social Security checks had plummeted in value the way their 401K's did when the market collapsed just two years ago.
* The Republicans want to weaken and repeal the new law to rein in the recklessness of the big Wall Street banks. Most Republicans and Democrats voted to bail out the big banks to prevent a 1930's style market collapse. The difference is that Democrats supported legislation to rein in their recklessness -- that had cost 8 million Americans their jobs -- and assure that a bailout was never allowed to happen again. But with very few exceptions, the Republicans voted to a person against holding Wall Street accountable. Given a chance, they plan to team up with their pals on Wall Street to free them to return to their reckless ways at will. In fact, they told the titans of Wall Street as much in fundraising meetings, where those "masters of the Universe" were asked to ante up. Republicans claim to oppose more Wall Street bailouts, but they refuse to support legislation that would prevent one in the future and hold Wall Street accountable. That -- coupled with those big contributions from Wall Street -- is a position that is very difficult for average voters to swallow. In fact, the polling says it's down right toxic.
* Republicans have consistently voted against extending unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off because of Bush-era policies and the recklessness of Wall Street. Remember, people who get unemployment benefits -- by definition -- are looking for jobs that the economy doesn't provide. In addition, many Republicans actually believe that the best way to spur employment is to lower the minimum wage.
* Finally, meet Congressman Joe Barton. If the Republicans win back control of Congress, he would once again most likely serve as the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the Committee that oversees the oil industry. Congressman Barton has never met an oil company he doesn't like. In fact, he's the guy who actually apologized to BP when they were forced by the Obama Administration to take economic responsibility for the disastrous Gulf oil spill. As a political matter, that's like apologizing to Jack the Ripper.