The future is coming into view. Donald Trump’s victory strengthened the decades-long attack on the role of government. But we’ve got the tools to fight back, and we’re not alone.
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently released a new “anti-poverty” plan that would only make it tougher for poor and working families to get by.
For Americans today – particularly for bloggers, Senators, reporters and activists — it’s pretty much always a definitive rebuke to accuse someone of “acting politically.” Reflexive disdain for political motives is deeply rooted in our popular culture, which so often assumes that ethics is one thing, politics quite another. “You quit a profession you love for ethical reasons,” the President tells the main character on CBS’s Madam Secretary. “That makes you the least political person I know.”
But however culturally pervasive and recognizable this kind of disparagement may be – however tempting it is to call out someone for their political motives — there are reasons to do so sparingly.
To see why, it’s worth reflecting on two of the most striking recent instances in which base political motives have been alleged. Both the right and left agreed that Barack Obama’s decision to postpone executive action to reduce deportation of undocumented immigrants was unprincipled and political.
It is a sign of how far right the Republican Party has moved that New York Times columnist Ross Douthat describes Rep. Paul Ryan as a “moderate.”
In his column on Sunday, “Four Factions, No Favorite,” Douthat looked at the likely candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Drawing on an article by Henry Olsen in the conservative journal National Interest, Douthat divides the GOP core voters into four groups: centrist (“think John McCain’s 2000 supporters or Jon Huntsman’s rather smaller 2012 support”), moderately conservative (“think the typical Mitt Romney or Bob Dole voter”), socially conservative (“think Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum backers”) and very conservative but more secular (“think Gingrich voters last time or Steve Forbes voters much further back”).
Reviewing the stellar cast of likely GOP wannabes for 2016 (Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush,
He’s already come out in favor of $20 billion in cuts that will throw an estimated two million children, elderly, and disabled Americans off food stamps. But now Ryan — the millionaire Wisconsin Congressman who was Mitt Romney’s VP running mate last year — is pushing an amendment to eliminate food stamps for people who have $2,000 in savings, or a car worth more than $5,000.
The Congressional Budget Office found that this would throw 1.8 million people off of the program. The Hill reported, “Most of these would be low-income seniors and working families with children. These families typically live paycheck to paycheck. Denying them the ability to save for emergencies, such as fixing a car,
The minimum wage is back on the rise. Last month Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal wage to $10.10. State legislatures aren’t waiting. The New York state assembly approved an increase to $9 plus indexing, the New Mexico state senate approved an increase to $8.50, and the Hawaii state senate and house each passed increases.
But that hasn’t stopped the doomsayers. The conservative Cato Institute called the minimum wage “zombie economics.” Paul Ryan said that “history is very clear” that it “costs jobs.” Marco Rubio said that “We have a lot of history to prove” that “raising the minimum wage does not grow the middle class.”
In fact, the historical record is quite clear. “Consider the Source: 100 years of Broken Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage,
The president’s re-election campaign recently unveiled an Internet slideshow demonstrating to women some possible consequences of their votes this fall. The Life of Julia, a mini-biography in 11 episodes, has an imaginary toddler, Julia, enrolling in a Head Start program, a 27-year-old Web-designer Julia benefiting from mandated preventive health care coverage, and a retiree Julia living “comfortably” on Social Security. And it contrasts the fate of these programs under Obama and Romney policies. Visually engaging but hardly dramatic, well-pitched but far from edgy as campaign advertising, The Life of Julia, I am tempted to say, is not all that interesting in itself.
Not so the conservative response to Julia. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, pronounced the slideshow “creepy” and “demeaning.” Julia’s life is “banal and hackneyed,” wrote William Bennett, in a more literary frame of mind. Ross Douthat perceived liberal “condescension” at every turn of Julia’s fictional life.