Let no one doubt the Republican platform for 2011 is one of nihilism. Let no one mistake their threat to America as a promise, unless it was a promise to destroy America. The Republicans have been on the attack non-stop since day one and their targets have included education, the environment, the middle class, unions, healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, and marriage equality. They really haven’t offered anything on a positive note: their goal seems to be to roll back the New Deal, the Great Society, and any other progressive legislation that has come along since 1900, including some signed into law by Republican presidents, effectively aiming at a return to the abuses of the Gilded Age, when rich Republican oligarchs ruled the country.
Remember when we saw all those crazy Tea Partiers in the primaries, Angle, O’Donnell and the others and we thought “Oh boy, here we go!” Well, our fears were justified and in some respects, it is worse than some of us ever imagined. Let’s look at some of the areas of attack. The truly frightening part? This is not an exhaustive list of what the Republicans have been up to:
Women’s Reproductive Rights
There is no doubt that the GOP’s first goal is to deprive women of their reproductive rights. It’s so important that we find Mike Huckabee promising Christian conservatives that his number one priority if he runs for president will be abortion
o Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, has proposed a bill (House Bill 2988) that would prevent any abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
o In Georgia, a bill (SB 209) sponsored by Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, would close all abortion clinics in the state and require abortions to be performed in hospitals
o South Dakota wants to require “spiritual” counseling (House Bill 1217) at religious centers before allowing an abortion to take place
o The Texas State House of Representatives has passed the Sonogram Bill (HB 15), a measure requiring women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, forcing even victims of rape to have an ultrasound probe inserted into their uteruses at least 24 hours before the procedure.
o Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would not only make abortion illegal but would make miscarriages illegal.
o South Dakota flirted with a law to make the murder of an abortion doctor legal as self-defense
o Indiana (House Bill 1210) wants to force doctors to lie to women about abortion causing breast cancer despite medical evidence to the contrary in order to discourage women from having abortions
o Arguing that it is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind, introduced a bill (HR 217) in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, despite the many other services Planned Parenthood provides to both men and women, including contraception and STD testing
o Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” (HR 3) that would limit the rape exemption for abortion to “forcible rape” which would have defined many rapes, for example, statutory rape of a minor, as non-forcible and therefore not covered by federal assistance
o Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill (HR 358) would allow states to deny insurance coverage for birth control meaning hospitals could deny abortion procedures and transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman
Marriage Equality/Anti-Gay Agenda
To demonstrate how serious the GOP is about depriving a segment of Americans of their constitutional rights, conservative activist Alan Caruba called Obama’s DOMA decision an act of “societal suicide” in a column titled, “America’s Gay White House.” So the equality guaranteed by the Constitution is societal suicide?
o The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives wants to defend DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) in court despite the unconstitutionality of the law according to the DOJ’s own review. As Nancy Pelosi has asked John Boehner, how much will that cost?
o In Tennessee, state Sen. Mae Beavers has introduced SB 1091, a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a “long-form” birth certificate in order to be on the ballot in that state. Nearly a dozen states have had similar anti-Obama legislation aimed at making President Obama a one-term president, including – unsurprisingly – Arizona – as well as Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Montana, and Maine. Mae Beavers admits she has no idea what a “long-form” birth certificate even is. She “hasn’t looked into it yet.” Keep in mind, all these proposals will cost the taxpayers money at a time when the GOP claims we’re too poor to even educate our children.
Unions and Collective Bargaining/War on Middle Class
This is more than an attack on unions, teachers, the public sector and collective bargaining and it is far from being the budget/deficit issue Republicans claim. It is, as Noam Chomsky writes, an attack on democracy itself.
o In Georgia a new bill (HB 385) would raise taxes on things like Girl Scout Cookies, groceries and gasoline but would lower tax rates on corporate income, from 6 percent this year to just 4 percent in 2014
o Republicans voted to end a program “that helped low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their energy bills”
o A Tea Party-led movement is afoot to attack collective bargaining and public sector pay as responsible for our nation’s economic woes even though the problem is clearly Wall Street. Fights are going on in several Republican-controlled states:
o Texas Department of Agriculture sets up border vigilante website to promote and support (sometimes violent) vigilantism
o In Texas, more than 60 anti-immigration bills have been filed this legislative session including requiring birth certificates to enroll in public schools and allowing police officers to act as immigration agents
Child Labor Laws
o Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution despite the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1941 (United States v. Darby Lumber). (A similar movement is underway in Missouri where State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill [S.B. 222] to minimize child labor laws)
o Islamophobia has become institutionalized in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives as Rep. Peter King (R – N.Y.), is begins his McCarthy-esque “investigation of radical Islam”
o Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives kills climate committee, the Select Committee on Global Warming
o Oppose energy saving light bulbs citing the evils of government interference. In a case of Republican cannibalism, Republican lawmakers want to repeal a 2007 U.S. law (signed by President George W. Bush) which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternative energy-saving bulbs (that use 25%-30% less energy than standard incandescent). With typical ignorance of the facts, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blames the Obama Administration
o Senator Rand Paul blames the administration and the Department of Energy for the fact that his toilet doesn’t work, telling Energy Department official Kathleen Hogan that it’s her fault (the EPA says if we replaced our old toilets we “could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country—that’s nearly 11 gallons per toilet in your home every day”
o Republicans in the House (House CR or continuing resolution) voted to cut $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health or NIH (5% below the president’s 2011 request and $638 million, or 2%, below current levels), which would do untold damage to cancer research and probably result in cuts to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and cause job losses.
o The Republicans launch a stealth attack on endangered species, showing they love animals at least as much as the middle class.
o The House Judiciary Committee is looking at the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy
o In Frederick County, Maryland, the Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to Head Start, cutting funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision by arguing that women should be married and staying at home with their kids, which would make the program unnecessary.
o House Republicans voted to cut Pell Grants, that help middle class kids go to college, by 25%
o Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed to cut teacher pay by 12 percent to 20 percent
o Saying that the country is broke and we need to tighten our belts, Senate Republicans vote to cut the Head Start budget by $2 billion, or nearly a quarter of President Obama’s $8.2 billion 2011 budget request (the program’s current funding is $7.2 billion) but voted to continue $4 billion worth of subsidies to Big Oil (Exxon, etc). Exxon’s profits went up 53% in the last quarter of 2010. The Head Start funding cut will have the following effects:
§ 218,000 children from low income families will lose Head Start/Early Head Start services;
§ 16,000 Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms will close;
§ 55,000 Head Start/Early Head Start teachers and staff will lose their jobs;
§ 150,000 low-income families and their children will lose assistance in paying for child care.