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Should House Republicans Be on Suicide Watch?

Should House Republicans be put on suicide watch?

Many, Via Meadia included, had hoped that the rise of a Republican majority focused on deficit reduction in the House would be the catalyst to finally cut  farm subsidies—one of the country’s most wasteful and ill conceived programs. At a time when annual farm income has reached a record $101 billion, such subsidies are clearly unnecessary.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. The New York Times reports that the House Agriculture Committee’s new farm bill aims to cut food stamps by more than $12 billion while actually adding new subsidies to agribusiness:

The House bill, which passed 35 to 11, would reduce food and nutrition spending by more than $35 billion, mainly by cutting about $16.5 billion from the food stamps program. The Senate bill cut about $23 billion in spending, with $4.5 billion in savings coming from food stamps. About 80 percent of farm bill spending goes to food stamps. […]

Under the House bill, money is put into new price support programs to see peanut, cotton and rice producers through deep, multiple-year price declines. The price supports and new insurance programs for peanuts and rice address concerns by Southern rice and peanut growers who have traditionally relied more heavily on direct payments. These farmers objected to the Senate’s version of the farm bill saying it did not provide enough of a safety net with the elimination of direct payments.

The House Republican majority certainly looks like it’s trying to destroy itself. The combination of raising agricultural subsidies by billions of dollars and cutting food stamps is one of the most stupid, self-destructive moves an American political party could make.

A party with principles might cut food stamps and farm supports. A party with no principles but good political instincts might spend more on food stamps and farm subsidies. But to cut food stamps while subsidizing big agriculture manages to make Republicans look hard-hearted and spineless at the same time.

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  • thibaud

    “A party with principles might cut food stamps and farm supports.”

    This is progress.

    One could also point out that a party with principles would not spend years arguing that health insurance reform requires an individual mandate – and then suddenly begin arguing that said mandate is an evil and tyrannical imposition that must be destroyed at all costs.

    Or that a party with principles would not accept tens of millions of dollars from chemical industry oligarchs who have repeatedly broken laws around the world, trashed safety regulations, and done business with the Iranian regime.

    Or that a party with principles would not elevate champions of financial sector reform who, as soon as they get in office, begin working intensively behind the scenes with banking lobbyists in order to gut the Volcker Rule.

    Perhaps Mr Mead will conclude, as a majority of voters have concluded, that said party is not principled at all.

    This election is Romney’s to lose, but it looks increasingly clear that, if unemployment doesn’t get worse, he will actually lose in November – for the simple reason that he and his party are completely untrustworthy on the major issues.

    Nice to see the dawning recognition by Via Meadia of this crucial reality.

  • Felipe Pait

    When you hear hooves, think horse, not zebra. They look hard-hearted and spineless because they are hard-hearted and spineless.

  • Thrasymachus

    This is evil. That’s all there is to it. The Republican Party is staffed with the same vacuous grifters the Democratic Party is.

  • thibaud

    You can’t trust the GOP.

    Team Obama would do wise to follow the Tories’ script from their brilliant campaign in 1992, when an unpopular leader, John Major, was re-elected despite a floundering economy.

    Maurice Saatchi, adman extraordinaire, and the Tory strategists made the campaign all about one thing: trust. Their slogan was very simple – “You can’t trust Labour” – and they hammered this home again and again, never departing from the script.

    For the Tories, the trust mantra was linked to one issue, taxes.

    For the Democrats today, the trust mantra can be linked to basic and hugely popular elements of the safety net that Richie Rich-Romney and the GOP are determined to destroy: extended unemployment benefits, ACA’s ban on the “pre-existing condition” scam, medicare.

    All Romney has to do to make the “You can’t trust the Republicans” mantra resonate is a) keep talking about rolling back the ACA – and b) choose Paul Ryan as his running mate.

    When and if b) occurs, I’ll be the first one to head to InTrade and bet on Obama. Money fuh nothin,’ as the song goes.

  • thibaud

    One of the architects of John Major’s surprising re-election victory in 1992 reflects on the “You can’t trust Labour” hatchet campaign here:


    “We deliberately ran a totally negative campaign from October ’91 onwards – and we never departed from it.

    Q. So, did you have any deviations from your chosen policy? Tax, tax, tax and nothing else.

    A. No. We had one small wobble. After the shadow Budget we had a few dangerous days, where we started responding – which was a terrible mistake.

    Q. You shouldn’t respond to your opponent?

    A. No. Not at all. Because you want to control the agenda. And our agenda was tax. I’m modestly proud of the fact that when people came out of the polling booths and listed their reasons for voting Tory, the first was Kinnock and the second was tax. We put it there.

    Q. You scarcely went for Kinnock.

    A. We did one vicious section in a broadcast. One real personal attack on a scale that had never been done before. It was really, really nasty.

    Q. Do you regret it ?

    A. Oh no, not at all. We were saying you can’t trust him, he changes his mind all the time.

  • thibaud

    When it comes to weasel-dom, Romney is Neil Kinnock squared. Not since Nixon have we seen such an unreliable, untrustworthy, disingenuous candidate.

    Tearing him down this fall will be child’s play for Team Obama. It’s been done before and can be easily done again:

    “You can’t trust Romney.”

    “You can’t trust the GOP.”

  • Keophus

    Republicans are unbelievably unfocused and often clueless but at least they are not focused and determinedly trying to destroy the country.

  • Susan

    In other words, the Democratic Party is the Party of Evil and the Republican Party is the Party of Evil-Enablers.

  • Walter Sobchak

    The Agriculture committee is a particular refuge of old time spend like you will die tonight politicians. Hopefully leadership will exercise some control over them.

    BTW IMHOP $0 is too big an appropriation for the Agriculture department. The food stamp budget should be sent to the states for their use in reliving hunger and want. The rest of the Agriculture department should be torn down, plowed under, and sown with salt.

  • Jim.

    So prices on rice and peanuts are falling even as spiking prices on Egyptian staples are driving political unrest? Seems like the GOP needs to stay a bit more true to its market-signal respecting priciples.

    It really is a shame that they’re not holding the line on spending like they should. The change in management of the GOP away from GWBushism isn’t happening fast enough; fortunately this is an election year and we can do something about the problem.

  • An

    @WRM This is an election year and while I agree with you farm subsidies are deplorable, I don’t think its bad politics by Republicans. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio are heavy agricultural states. Republicans cannot take on the farm lobby in an equally divided country with key swings states in play. The fact is neither party will take on the excesses of the farm lobby while both parties are of equal strength, as has been the case for the past 20 years or so.

    With regards to foods stamps cuts, this does not hurt the base or independents at all. The stories of food stamps being given to illegal immigrants, welfare benefits being used at strip clubs and casinos, and other abuses of our welfare system do not engender support for such expenditures.

    Do I think this is harmful to those who truly need them? Yes. Food stamps are the soup kitchens of the 21st centuries, but majority of those on food stamps don’t vote Republican. With both parties fighting for each and every vote, such is politics.

  • thibaud

    “The change in management of the GOP away from GWBushism isn’t happening fast enough”

    Very confusing, isn’t it, Jim?

    I mean, spending is bad – except when it’s not. Mandates are bad – except when they’re not.

    And the GOP’s candidate was _not_ head of Bain post-1999 – except he was, and reported same in filings to the SEC. Ruh-roh.

    Seems that in this case, a corporation really was a person – one person, who’s now put himself in danger of fines and lawsuits by the SEC and by that company’s shareholders.

    Nine SEC filings submitted by four different business entities after February 1999 describe Romney as Bain boss.

    Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time….

    Romney did not finalize a severance agreement with Bain until 2002, a 10-year deal with undisclosed terms that was retroactive to 1999. It expired in 2009….

    A former SEC commissioner told the Globe that the SEC documents listing Romney as Bain’s chief executive between 1999 and 2002 cannot be dismissed so easily.

    “You can’t say statements filed with the SEC are meaningless. This is a fact in an SEC filing,” said Roberta S. Karmel, now a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

    “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say he was technically in charge on paper but he had nothing to do with Bain’s operations,” Karmel continued. “Was he getting paid? He’s the sole stockholder. Are you telling me he owned the company but had no say in its investments?”

    The Globe found nine SEC filings submitted by four different business entities after February 1999 that describe Romney as Bain Capital’s boss; some show him with managerial control over five Bain Capital entities that were formed in January 2002, according to records in Delaware, where they were incorporated.

    A Romney campaign official, who requested anonymity to discuss the SEC filings, acknowledged that they “do not square with common sense.”

    Karmel, the former SEC commissioner, said the contradictory statements could have legal implications in some instances.

    “If someone invested with Bain Capital because they believed Mitt Romney was a great fund manager, and it turns out he wasn’t really doing anything, that could be considered a misrepresentation to the investor,’’ she said. “It’s a theory that could be used in a lawsuit against him.”

  • Mark

    For the knee-jerk Dem commenters – the real problem is that this is a truly bipartisan issue. The Republicans give lip service to financial prudence and limited government and then do this abomination (I am assuming that Times report is accurate but that may be a dangerous assumption given it is the Times). The Democrats just flat out don’t care and ag subsidies demonstrate the fundamental flaw in the progressive philosophy of unfettered federal power. Ag subsidies started under FDR as a New Deal program with the theory that raising food prices would jumpstart the economic recovery (hard to believe, but that was the theory). Three of the leading New Deal Supreme Court cases loved by progressives (Nebbia, Carolene Products, Wickard (the Commerce Clause case))were about ensuring monopolistic agricultural practices (or as liberals would say if the shoe was on the other foot – “making milk more expensive for poor children”). The train wreck we are heading for under progressive policies is caused by the fact that it becomes politically near impossible to turn any of these benefits (or “goodies”) off once they start and you create the special interest group to defend them in perpetuity. Ag subsidies are a great example – most progressives hate them now but can’t stop them – on the other hand Jim Jeffords switched parties in 2001 because the Dems promised they would keep milk prices high for poor kids and the Times praised him for the switch. I don’t know what it will take for either party to end this other than a replication of the crisis now occuring in many states as Prof Mead has frequently noted in this blog.

  • An

    Farm subsidies are one part of the equation, but I believe the regulations on the books in support of the agriculture lobby are a greater threat to American prosperity, and the free market, then direct cash transfers.

    Take for instance corn. Currently 1/4 of corn producing farmland in the US is devoted to ethanol production. Through the combination of government mandates requiring a certain percentage, tariffs on Brazilian sugar cane, and subsidies; profits from corn ethanol have been maintained artificially high. This market distortion has kept the overall price of corn higher, benefiting farmers but hurting consumers.

    Even Al Gore, acknowledges this is a mistake.

    “Al Gore says his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies while serving as vice president was a mistake that had more to do with his desire to cultivate farm votes in the 2000 presidential election than with what was good for the environment.”

    Environmentalist should be extremely angry on the Brazilian tariffs. Sugarcane ethanol is superior to corn ethanol. It’s cheaper to produce and contains more energy than an equivalent volume of corn ethanol.

  • thibaud

    Oops – the Globe reports that Romney was Bain Capital’s SOLE shareholder. So I guess he’s safe from shareholder lawsuits, at least.

    Swifty Romney will go down faster than Swift-boat Kerry did.

    I honestly feel sorry for the hard-right Republicans who got stuffed with this turkey of a candidate. It’s going to be a very painful four months for them.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @thibaud says:

    “You can’t trust the GOP.”

    True that.

    But can you trust Demorats?
    And if you say yes, I have a bunch of high quality Solyndra shares for sale at a very reasonable price.

  • Art Deco

    BTW IMHOP $0 is too big an appropriation for the Agriculture department.

    There are two small regulatory agencies, a statistical collection bureau, and a unit which undertakes agronomic research in-house which you might retain. You also have two or three other agencies which have an agreeable aspect (e.g. fighting forest fires) and a disagreeable aspect (e.g. maintaining large inventories of commercial timber land). Somewhere north of 90% of the budget of the department should be excised.

  • Art Deco

    Seems like the GOP needs to stay a bit more true to its market-signal respecting priciples.

    The farm lobby puppets never had any principles to which to be true. We need to hope this goes down on a floor vote.

  • thibaud

    Mick – devil you know, etc

  • Kris

    One word: Boo!

    thibaud, it’s amusing seeing you trying to make so much hay out of this when you consistently mock the elements of the Republican coalition pushing for a more principled approach.

    (By the way, a 35-11 vote seems bipartisan, neh?)

  • rkka


    “But can you trust Demorats?”

    By comparison to Republicans?

    Yes. In a heartbeat.

    “And if you say yes, I have a bunch of high quality Solyndra shares for sale at a very reasonable price.”

    The Solyndra thing cost, what, $500 mil?

    That would have covered Dubya’s Great Iraq Adventure for, like, a day.

    If you *exclude* all the long-term pension/healthcare costs for maimed vets, that is.

    So, BHO’s screw-ups cost half a billion and kill nobody.

    GWB’s screw-ups cost trillion$, were financed with tax cuts, and kill thousands of Americans, and wound tens of thousands more.

    Yeah. I’ll take the Democrats. In a heartbeat.

  • An


    Modern farm subsidies are a bipartisan plague. You cannot harp on the GOP for its support of farm subsidies, violating its beliefs while holding the Democratic party as angels on trust. The conservative assumption is government is generally crooks, but it is a necessary evil to be tolerated.

    Historically the Democratic party championed the political goals of farmers. When William Jennings Bryan was campaigning on the “Cross of Gold,” he was largely championing the causes of farmers, who wanted to inflate the dollar by adopting silver to lessen their debt burdens. When the modern regulatory state arose from the New Deal, this long lasting support allowed the farm lobby to essentially to vote themselves a portion of the public coffers. They also received “price support” in the form of regulations excluding competition and lax labor laws (think immigration). Much of which violated the tenants of the modern Democratic party, helping the weak over the strong.

    And one last matter,

    “For the Democrats today, the trust mantra can be linked to basic and hugely popular elements of the safety net that Richie Rich-Romney and the GOP are determined to destroy: extended unemployment benefits, ACA’s ban on the “pre-existing condition” scam, medicare.”

    Obama will not be running on the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration gamed the CBO to get a figure less than $1 trillion dollars (from 2010-2020) knowing that American support cratered if the bill was above that figure.

    To achieve that Obama did three main ways, one was to start the benefits at 2014, the second was shift costs to the states, and third was to take $500 billion from Medicare and transfer it to ACA.

    To this day, the most consistent and strongest opponents of ACA have been seniors. Obama will have a tough time arguing he is preserving the viability of Medicare, when he has raided the coffers of Medicare to support his signature legislation.

  • C. Philips

    thibaud is repeating the lies of the Boston Globe and AP about Bain. They are thoroughly exposed at:

    Obama and thibaud hope the American people are too stupid to tell what is really going on. Whether or not Romney or anyone else can be trusted, they certainly can’t be.

  • Pave Low John

    Actually, if you are a House Republican, it makes perfect political sense to cut food stamps and give the money to farm subsidies. Here’s why:

    There is no way – NO WAY – that anyone getting food stamps ie EBT cards is going to vote Republican. Doesn’t matter if the Republicans voted to double the food stamp program, isn’t going to happen. That constituency is a solid Democrat voting bloc (cynics might refer to them as the welfare branch of the Democrat coalition, but I digress). In a House Republican’s eyes, food stamp money is all going to buy Democrat votes, so they might as well cut it.

    Farmers and Ag Business, while not solidly Republican, can be bought off with pork-barrel spending. Hence, all the ethanol mandates and farm bill handouts. While there is no solid guarantee that spending more money on farm pork will translate into Republican votes, killing or severely wounding a farm bill will most definitely translate into Democrat votes. So, if you’re a House Republican, you throw more money at the farm lobby and cross your fingers.

    I said it all makes ‘political’ sense, not common sense. It has nothing to do with the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ course of action, only “How is my handling of this issue going to maximize my chances of re-election?”

    And if you think the Democrats are one iota different, I gotta nice, solar-powered drawbridge to sell you…

  • Robert

    None of us can undo roughly 100 years of entrenched pandering in any single election.

    The only course limited government supporters should follow is to “Tea-Party” the primaries, and do it over and over again, in every election, at every level, everywhere.

    At some point — and this will take decades — critical mass will be achieved, and We the People can regain control of government and start making it smaller and bringing it closer to home.

    We need to be thinking Long March Through the Institutions here, not how the next four months are going to play out.

    Keep your eyes on the forest, folks, not the trees.

  • thibaud

    #19 Kris – “thibaud, it’s amusing seeing you trying to make so much hay out of this when you consistently mock the elements of the Republican coalition pushing for a more principled approach.”

    Which “elements,” Kris?

    Do you mean the Koch brothers? As I point out in post #1, above, these sugar daddies of your “principled” movement are trading with Iran’s government, breaking laws around the world, trashing safety regulations and endangering lives.

    These men are beyond scoundrels; they’re criminals who should be in prison, not least for aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States. No principled movement would accept their money.

    Perhaps you had in mind the Tea Party Senator from Massachusetts?

    As I also point out above, he’s the one who was elected on a platform of finance reform – and then began working intensively with lobbyists, ever so quietly behind the scenes, to gut the Volcker Rule.

    So just to be clear: I’m not mocking their “principled approach.” I’m pointing out the fact that they have no principles beyond the attainment of power.

    As O’Brien tells Winston Smith, “The purpose of power is power.”

    As I say, I feel sorry for the good people who’ve been suckered by these frauds.

    And I pity those of you who have, as Mead would say, nailed your red flag to the Romney mast.

    That unseaworthy craft is already taking on water and it will sink faster than SwiftBoat Kerry did.

    Because, as your own heroes pointed out as recently as this spring,

    You can’t trust Romney.

  • thibaud

    # 10 An – “This is an election year and while I agree with you farm subsidies are deplorable, I don’t think its bad politics by Republicans. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio are heavy agricultural states. Republicans cannot take on the farm lobby in an equally divided country with key swings states in play.”

    I see. Principles are fine – so long as they don’t actually require you to take a stand. Given that the GOP consistently panders in non-election years as well – cf Scott Brown and the Volcker Rule, and the coddling of the banksters generally – it seems that the best thing about a GOP principle is its wonderfully abstract quality.

    “Do I think this is harmful to those who truly need them? Yes. Food stamps are the soup kitchens of the 21st centuries, but majority of those on food stamps don’t vote Republican.”

    Your candor is refreshing. A pity that your party’s candidate and its leaders are so dishonest.

  • thibaud

    #22 C. Philips: thanks for the laughs. Fortunately for Obama, Team Romney seems just as clueless as your bush-league lawyer hack’s quibbling about what the definition of is is.

    As your hack admits, and as the SEC filing makes clear, Romney had CONTROL of Bain Capital after 1999.

    To say that he didn’t “run” the company is more than disingenuous, because the real issue here is not his operating role but his fiduciary responsibility.

    Romney was the founder and sole shareholder. He was in a position of great influence, he received material information, and he continued to receive six figure payments from that entity that he claims to have dissociated himself from.

    Romney’s ludicrous fibs about his relationship to Bain Capital post-1999 are part of a larger pattern of lies and evasions about the man’s finances.

    Now your guy is even lying about his not-so-blind trust, the one managed by his personal friend. And not for the first time.

    As I say, I pity your side, with such an amateurish candidate.

    As Gingrich said, when have we ever had a president with a Swiss bank account?


  • thibaud

    Re. the quality of Romney’s defenders, here’s a priceless gem from that aforementioned hack lawyer (translation from the original North Korean):

    “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice.

    “He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”


    Are you guys TRYING to lose?

  • Felipe Pait

    thibaud #28, thanks for the amusing translation from the North Korean!

  • An

    All good points. The House Republicans can only make token stands. They cannot reverse Obama’s trillion dollar deficit with just control of the House. With the inertia built into our Constitution, only with control of both Houses of Congress (with 60 in the senate) and the Presidency can a downward trajectory in government spending be accomplished. Republicans have to earn that power by winning elections. To do that they have to convince the American people their policies and beliefs are correct.

    @Thibaud (26). See my post at 21.

    Politicians of all stripes (left and right) make and brake promises in order to win elections, that is expected. The framers understood human nature and assumed that politicians would be corrupt, and with this understanding they built a political system of enumerated powers and limited governments.

    Romney’s Wealth is not a winning cause for Democrats. Only 1 in 5 people according to Gallup will vote against Romney for being rich. And most of them are Democrats. This is a losing political issue.

    Your advice would sink your party.

    Obama has used Wall Street has his favorite pinata for the past 3 years, but in the 2008 election he received more Wall Street money than Republicans. Thibaud, the dirty little secret is much of Wall Street is Democratic. One of the three founders of Carlyle Group was a former speech writer to Jimmy Carter. The California Teachers union was once the largest shareholder of The Carlyle Group.

    Lastly, you will not win any converts in political discourse the way you make your posts here. I work under the assumption everyone here is extremely intelligent, and are among the most informed Americans, by virtue of reading Via Media. You should too.

    Badgering and belittling fellow posters such as Kris and C. Philips while ignoring the substantive critiques is a recipe for disaster. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules of Radicals” garner applause in progressive circles, but will not engender change in the real world.

  • thibaud

    Spending is bad, except when it isn’t. Deficits are bad – except when they’re not. Mandates are bad – except when they’re not.

    And food stamps are bad – except when they’re not.

  • thibaud

    An – Romney’s wealth isn’t at issue. FDR and JFK were born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth. Bush fils like Bush pere was born with a silver foot in his mouth. Whatever.

    Romney’s problem’s not his money but his mendacity.

    Romney is incapable of telling a straight story on anything, be it Obamney, er RobamaCare, I mean RomneyCare, or his offshore accounts, or his views on Keynesian stimulus.

    Re spending, on ABC news he explicitly denied that he would slash spending in his first year of office, saying that in a time of recession it would be “crazy” to do so.

    Take this basic inability to tell us what, if anything, he stands for on any core issue, combine it with the offshore shell games, and you have political dynamite.

    I mean, the other scions’ pappies had as much or money than George Romney or his son, and in some cases it appears to have been gotten through rather unsavory strategems (cf Joe Sr and bootlegging).

    But I don’t recall any US president ever having a so-called “blocker” account in the Caymans. Or a personal account in Switzerland.

    When your normally-inattentive swing voter starts paying attention, he’s not going to vote for the Cayman Blocker candidate. “That stuff’s effed-up!” is a much more likely response. Not American. Weird.

    And this fits with the obvious, high-concept narrative about the guy.

    He oozes the kind of slick, arrogant cockiness that people associate with young MBA whippersnappers who know all their data points while knowing nothing about blood, toil, sweat and tears.

    Your side has its own John Kerry. A lot of Democratic operatives have been waiting eight years for payback, and now it’s coming the GOP’s way.

    In spades.

  • rkka

    “All good points. The House Republicans can only make token stands. They cannot reverse Obama’s trillion dollar deficit with just control of the House.”

    The first trillion dollar deficit was FY2009, which started on 1 October 2008, when Dubya Shrub was president.

    Republican policy dominance of all branches of the federal government 2001-2006 produced an economic wreck. The US private sector was losing 700k jobs/month in late 2008.

    Clearly, policy-making needs to be kept out of Republican hands for as long as possible.

  • thibaud

    And now Romney’s giving legs to the Party Like It’s 1999 Bain story.

    “Disgusting! Despicable! Undignified! I demand an apology!”

    “You stop saying mean things about me, right now, or I’m telling on you!”

    Poor Republicans.

    This is like watching every a rerun of every whining loser of the past 25 years, from Mike “I resent it” Dukakis, through Perot in ’92, McCain in the 2000 GOP SoCarolina primary, to Kerry in ’04.

    Hint for Team Romney: stop stepping in it. If you’re stuck talking about your guy’s financial schemes, you lose. End of story.

    Amazing to see such amateurishness from a great political party.

  • Kimmy


    Check out the last CBO accounting of the Bush budgets. It projects the deficit closing. By 2020 it’s less than $50 billion dollars. TARP added $700 billion to the budget but that was a bipartisan as Democrats voted for it at a higher percentage than Republicans. Since then Obama has run 1+ trillion dollar deficits each year. CBO projects $1+ trillion every year and this accounts for the savings with the IRAQ war ended. Why do you think the Democrats have not submitted a budge in 3 years. They raised long term spending but did not want to be held responsible for it. Stop making epithets like dubya shrub and so forth, it makes you look foolish. Read the CBO, its suppose to be non-partisan, its all there.


    There is no law against have money in Switzerland or any other Country (other than Iran & sanctioned countries). The IRS requires every American to declare their oversees assets, which Romney did. This is why people even know there is a Swiss bank account. To run for president you have to submit your financials, Romney has been vetted. he’s been running for president for 6 years and has been a politician for a long time, their finances have been vetted by the FBI and IRS. IMHO, this episode was carefully coordinated to get liberals such as yourself worked up for the election since Obama needs a heavy turnout to win. It worked!

  • Kris

    Nice try, thibaud@25, but I’m not going to get drawn into defending individuals (I don’t remember your ever addressing the Powerline rebuttal of the charges against the Koch brothers). You have consistently heaped scorn on libertarians and the Tea Party as groups, bemoaning the fact that they are radicalizing the previously mainstream and pragmatic Republicans with their extreme ideology. And now you turn around and criticize the GOP for not being ideologically principled. Conclusion: you’re against the GOP, unless they hew to the thibaud platform. Perfectly understandeable, but you could be more honest about it.

    thibaud@31: “Spending is bad, except when it isn’t.”

    Obama: “There is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.”

    thibaud@31: “Deficits are bad – except when they’re not.”

    Obama: “the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt … That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”

    thibaud@31: “Mandates are bad – except when they’re not.”

    Obama primary campaign ad: “Hillary Clinton’s attacking, but what’s she not telling you about her health care plan? It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don’t.”

  • rkka

    “Check out the last CBO accounting of the Bush budgets. It projects the deficit closing.”

    I have. For instance, the CBO estimate made a couple weeks before Inauguration Day 2009, after the TARP passed. Actual FY 2009 spending was about $20 billion *lower* than the January 2009 estimate. Yes, that means that Obama did not go on any spending spree in 2009.

    However, FY2009 revenue fell short of the January 2009 estimate by about $300 billion.

    Yes, the Bush CBO estimates underestimated the impact of The Crash.

    Even the CBO failed to take the measure of the pit the Republicans had dug for the economy while they held all federal power.

    We need to keep Republicans out of power so they can’t do it again.

  • thibaud

    Kris – you’re not addressing the points about Scott Brown’s hypocrisy. No “principles” at work there, other than maybe greasing the skids for him and his staffer to land jobs on Wall Street after he gets turned out of Congress.

    I’ll grant that Paul Ryan seems to be sincere. His problem is that his budget proposal is moronic. It would basically destroy the defense budget as well as the budget for the FBI, the FAA, the SEC, the FDA and every other discretionary line item.

    Re defending the Kochs, you really should make your own case. Their subsidiary is trading with the Iranians. Despicable.

    The jokers at the blog you mention – the ones who sing the praises of Wolfgang Rembrandt Van Bush – aren’t worth reading.

  • Kris

    thibaud@38: “Kris – you’re not addressing the points”

    How very perceptive of you! I explicitly wrote that I saw no reason to defend each and every individual on any particular side. Similarly, if we were to find out that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi had received large illegal donations from China, that would say nothing about whether ObamaCare was a worthwhile system.

    “The jokers … aren’t worth reading.”

    Ad hominem much?

    But I’ll indulge you on just one point: “Their subsidiary is trading with the Iranians.” Any evidence of that?

  • thibaud

    Koch freely admits that their subsidiaries in Germany and Italy were, per ABC News, “providing key components for a huge state-owned petro-chemical plant, despite a U.S. ban on trade with Iran since 1995.

    “One order was placed on January 29, 2003, the day after President Bush told Congress in his State of the Union message that Iran continued to be an enemy of the U.S. that “represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction and supports terror.”

    “Said Asjylyn Loder, a co-author of the Bloomberg Markets article, ‘You’re still dealing with a state that is considered by the U.S. State Department to be a sponsor of terrorism.’ Koch Industries says it finally stopped trading with Iran in 2006.”

    /end quote

    Kris, the quibbling and parsing won’t wash here. Businessmen are businessmen; they believe, as the Russians say, that “money never stinks.” Most of them will not turn down a chance to turn a buck with any brutal enemy of the US, provided that they can cloak it with the foreign subsidiary ruse. The Koch Brothers aren’t unique in this regard.

    What makes them unique is their ludicrous hypocrisy, their pose of standing for grand principles – smash the state, let a thousand flowers bloom – when all they’re really doing is advancing their business interests.

    The good people who’ve swallowed their cant, the ones who thought Scott Brown was serious about reform, are being played. It’s sad to watch.

  • Kris

    thibaud, you made a very clear and unambiguous statement: “Their subsidiary is trading with the Iranians.” Repeat, “is“. Now when I challenge you on it, based on the Powerline “jokers”, you acknowledge that this took place back in 2006.

    Jokers 1, thibaud 0.

  • thibaud

    Fair enough. They were trading with the Iranians.

    Re. the jokers, don’t you find it rather amusing that their home page features an Israeli flag next to an American one – and yet they spend so much time and effort trying to help their non-client justify his making coin off of behind-the-scenes trading with America and Israel’s most virulent enemy?

    As for serious journalism, try the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. her expose of Koch’s many conflicts of interest caused David Koch to resign his position last year at the National Institutes of Health – he’s big on donations to fight cancer – because he and his firm have been lobbying intensively for years to prevent NIH from listing one of its main products as … a carcinogen.


    Fwiw, the report finally went forward last year, as did the regulatory change, which means that many people will not come down with cancer – thanks in no small measure to Jane Mayer’s expose of these ruthless scoundrels’ attempts to scuttle regulations that affect the chemicals industry.


    “Koch began giving spectacularly large donations to the arts and sciences. And he became a patron of cancer research, focussing on prostate cancer. In addition to his gifts to Sloan-Kettering, he gave fifteen million dollars to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a hundred and twenty-five million to M.I.T. for cancer research, twenty million to Johns Hopkins University, and twenty-five million to the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. In response to his generosity, Sloan-Kettering gave Koch its Excellence in Corporate Leadership Award. In 2004, President Bush named him to the National Cancer Advisory Board, which guides the National Cancer Institute.

    “Koch’s corporate and political roles, however, may pose conflicts of interest.

    “For example, at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

    “Scientists have long known that formaldehyde causes cancer in rats, and several major scientific studies have concluded that formaldehyde causes cancer in human beings—including one published last year by the National Cancer Institute, on whose advisory board Koch sits. The study tracked twenty-five thousand patients for an average of forty years; subjects exposed to higher amounts of formaldehyde had significantly higher rates of leukemia.

    “These results helped lead an expert panel within the National Institutes of Health to conclude that formaldehyde should be categorized as a known carcinogen, and be strictly controlled by the government.

    “Corporations have resisted regulations on formaldehyde for decades, however, and Koch Industries has been a large funder of members of Congress who have stymied the E.P.A., requiring it to defer new regulations until more studies are completed.

    “Koch Industries became a major producer of the chemical in 2005, after it bought Georgia-Pacific, the paper and wood-products company, for twenty-one billion dollars. Georgia-Pacific manufactures formaldehyde in its chemical division, and uses it to produce various wood products, such as plywood and laminates. Its annual production capacity for formaldehyde is 2.2 billion pounds.

    “Last December, Traylor Champion, Georgia-Pacific’s vice-president of environmental affairs, sent a formal letter of protest to federal health authorities. He wrote that the company “strongly disagrees” with the N.I.H. panel’s conclusion that formaldehyde should be treated as a known human carcinogen.

    “David Koch did not recuse himself from the National Cancer Advisory Board, or divest himself of company stock, while his company was directly lobbying the government to keep formaldehyde on the market. (A board spokesperson said that the issue of formaldehyde had not come up.)

    “James Huff, an associate director at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the N.I.H., told me that it was “disgusting” for Koch to be serving on the National Cancer Advisory Board: “It’s just not good for public health. Vested interests should not be on the board.” He went on, “Those boards are very important. They’re very influential as to whether N.C.I. goes into formaldehyde or not. Billions of dollars are involved in formaldehyde.”

  • thibaud

    David Koch = Crony cancer capitalist.

  • thibaud

    Now Romney’s fibs are making his own party nervous:

    “On the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting in Williamsburg, Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, called on Romney to release all the documents requested of him.

    “If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong,” REpublican Governor Bentley said. “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.”

    “It wasn’t just Obama [and Alabama’s GOP Governor], though, pressuring Romney.

    “There is no whining in politics,” chided John Weaver, a veteran Republican strategist. “Stop demanding an apology, release your tax returns.”

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