I love the free market as much as I hate the welfare state. And yet, I can't help but wonder why something like the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for survivors and responders is even a partisan issue. The same goes for our opposition to certain rights for women, same-sex couples, and scientific advancements. I might not want homosexuals to get married, but hospital visitation rights are none of my business.
What would Abraham Lincoln say about today's GOP? Heck, even Richard Nixon? After all, Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency, which countless Republican candidates for president pledge to remove entirely. Here are the wackiest political positions of the modern Republican party.
Not Giving Women Equal Pay
President Barack Obama's first accomplishment of his presidency came in January 2009 when he signed the Lilly M. Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. The idea behind it seemed like common sense: women should get equal pay for equal work. However, four years later, that still wasn't the case for women.
So, in June of 2012, the Paycheck Fairness Act came to the Senate in need of 60 votes. The bill sought to get records from employers that their male-female disparity in salary did not come from gender discrimination. Every single solitary Republican voted it down. In fact, they refused to allow an up-or-down vote.Keeping government out of our business, and businesses, is an important part of the American tradition. But if the federal government were to provide oversight on anything, shouldn't it be to prevent discrimination? It's hard to imagine that the Republicans who supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 wouldn't support the feds at least making sure their daughters and sons would get equal pay for equal work. The fact that this, thanks to today's GOP, is even a debate in 2013 is not only indefensible, it's disturbing.
Giving Tax Benefits to Billionaires
When Democrats proposed a 5.6% surtax on millionaires and billionaires in 2011, Republicans accused the President of the United States of "class warfare." But one must wonder if they would use such a loaded term to attack previous presidents who have raised taxes on the rich. Dwight Eisenhower, for instance. Also Gerald Ford. And, surprise, Ronald Reagan, who today's GOP politicians publicly worship.
Part of what Republicans objected to was Obama saying he thought it was time for the uber-rich to "pay their fair share." This sounds familiar, but coming from a different voice. When Ronald Reagan fought to raise taxes on corporations and capital gains, he said "We want to see that everyone pays their fair share and no one gets a free ride...it's also good for society when everyone pays something, that everyone makes a contribution."Is Ronald Reagan a socialist in the eyes of 2014 Republican politicians? The opposition to Bush Tax Cuts and support for the Warren Buffett Rule is not radical liberalism. Every single, solitary poll ever taken (and there have been a lot over the past few years) shows an absolutely overwhelming majority of Americans think that the rich (even non-millionaires, those making over $100K!) should see raised marginal tax rates on their income.
Supporting Citizens United
Republican leader and Senator Mitch McConnell made it clear: his party's priority was not to improve our nation, it was to make sure Barack Obama loses in 2012. In fact, sometimes that priority was in direct opposition to improving our nation. And when it came time for elections, a Republican Supreme Court changed American democracy forever, and for the worse.
So in 2012, McConnell decided to join Republicans in praise of the Court's "monumental decision" (indeed) as one that is "restoring the First Amendment rights" of those who "have been deprived of full participation in the political process." Even Michael Steele, the then-Chairman of the entire Republican party and thereby a GOP spokesman if there ever was one, expressed how much he was "pleased with today's ruling."Thanks to the decision in 2010's Citizens United case, unprecedented and unlimited amounts of cash and tax-exempt "dark money" organizations to infiltrate our elections like never before. No limits. No disclosures. No accountability. Sure, the GOP has always supported business and people spending money on what they want. But changing the law of the entire federal government in allowing secret conservative Super PACs to essentially buy and run American elections? Not so much.
Increasing Spending...on War
The Republican Party has a history of cutting spending and opposing foreign policy interventionism. This includes both World Wars, since the GOP was equally unhappy with intervening in WWI as they were with intervening in WWII (until Pearl Harbor). However, in a trend that really got catapulted by America's least popular president, George W. Bush, the party seems to have shifted to a total free-for-all spending spree when it comes to blowing things up.
One way to spot the Grand New Party going against its own values is when they magically switch positions. Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, voted for a bill (one they knew would never pass in the Senate or the White House) that would preserve trillions of dollars in defense spending even though, exactly one year prior, they wrote and voted for a bill to do the opposite. First they were for slashing, but then when Obama wanted slashing, they wanted spending.Thanks to those Republicans, the indefensible fiscal cliff became the hot button issue. Even Republican Tom Coburn admits the Pentagon has "no idea where they're spending their money." America's defense budget has risen to undeniably uncontrollable levels under Republican rule, especially since corporations like Lockheed Martin funnel millions of dollars to political campaigns in such an environment. Even though the skyrocketing defense budget has led to deficits of epic proportions, Republicans still use the deficit to rationalize their tax cuts to the rich and the brutal cuts to children's health insurance, school lunch programs, and Medicaid. Defend that one!