Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Republican Math - Schock Resigns, Jindal Courts Grover & The GOP's Fantasy Budget

Congressman Aaron Schock lecturing on Capitol Hill
As much time as Republicans spend lecturing Democrats, American voters and even themselves about fiscal discipline, runaway spending, bloated budgets and the ubiquitous "government waste", it seems like they have an awful lot of politicians who struggle with basic math.

Aaron Schock, the 33 year-old conservative 'wunderkind' Republican Congressman representing the Illinois 18th District, announced his resignation effective March 31st in the wake of embarrassing Congressional spending scandals that first surfaced after a Washington Post article detailing the thousands of taxpayer dollars he spent redecorating his Congressional offices in a lavish "English country manor" motif inspired by the PBS series 'Downton Abbey'.

After ducking awkward questions from reporters for weeks about his stays in expensive hotels, flights on private planes and dinners in fancy restaurants improperly billed to the American people, Schock finally relented after a well-researched article on by Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan showed that Schock requested mileage reimbursement for 170,000 miles racked up on his Chevy Tahoe that only had 80,000 miles on the odometer when he sold it.

Oh, and as the article notes, "In November 2009, less than a year after Schock took his seat in Congress, the lawmaker bought the 2010 Tahoe from Green Chevrolet in Peoria. The dealership is owned by Jeff Green, a contributor to Schock who has flown the congressman around his district in his airplane and helicopter."

When the story started to break last month, it was like manna from Heaven for progressive bloggers.
I too feasted upon it back in a February post, but not to make light of Schock's personal troubles.

Part of what drew the media to this story of financial excess was the fact that Schock positioned himself as one of those spend-thrift conservatives who treat any kind of government spending as taxpayer waste - yet view tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans paid for by the same taxpayers, like some kind of religious mantra.

Surfs up! Aaron Schock hangs ten
So while Schock was supporting Republican bills to cut spending for education, IRS enforcement, food stamp assistance for families and Medicare; he was using his own Congressional expenditure allowances to live some kind of fantasy rock-star life style (pictured left).

Seriously, you gotta read the piece; it's almost like he's a character right out of the Netflix series 'House of Cards'. 

Speaking of things that don't quite add up, Republican Louisiana Governor/presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal is making some news of his own, and it's not good.
Jindal has dutifully played the good little Republican soldier with the hopes the GOP's rainmakers would bestow their ble$$ings upon his presidential aspirations.

In any kind of international crisis he's always been good for a generic anti-Obama quote when Republicans want to undermine the Commander-in-Chief's foreign policy decisions and need someone to make soundbite-worthy cheap shots to replay for the Fox News audience.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Back in 2013 Jindal was quick to weigh in on the 'Duck Dynasty' debate when cast member and family patriarch Phil Roberts came under fire for his controversial remarks in an interview about homosexuals and African-Americans.

Even though most Americans were pretty shocked at Roberts' comments and A&E suspended the show, Jindal quickly joined the ranks of conservatives who viewed the backlash against Roberts' comments as an attack on his religion.

Jiudal publicly defended Roberts' right to use his unusual interpretation of Christianity to act like a homophobic bigot.

But Jindal set himself up for fiscal problems when he signed up for non-elected anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's draconian "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" to never raise taxes under any circumstances.

As reported by, Louisiana is now facing a daunting $1.6 billion budget shortfall and even Republican members of his state legislature are at odds with his stubborn refusal to raise tax revenues because of his allegiance to Grover Norquist.

According to the Politico article, Jindal even consulted with members of Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) on how to solve the revenue gap without violating his "pledge" to Norquist; who elected Bobby anyway, Grover or the people of Louisiana?

Even though Norquist's "TPP" pledge is akin to a revered Holy Grail for conservatives, the economics behind Norquist's tax policy simply don't work in the real world; as numerous economists have proved.

The "TPP" is more of an ideology, or a philosophy (Utopian fantasy?) than it is a viable economic strategy, but that hasn't stopped over 279 Republican Congressman and Senators from signing it.

The "Starve the Beast" economic model delights Tea Partiers as an affirmation of the enduring Republican myth that Ronald Reagan's "Trickle Down Economic" theories worked; but they actually didn't - Republicans seem to have forgotten that Reagan actually raised taxes in his 2nd term and left enormous federal deficits when he left office. 

As Wikipedia notes: "Historian Bruce Bartlett, former domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, has called Starve the Beast "the most pernicious fiscal doctrine in history", and blames it for the increase in US government debt since the 1980s.

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback unleashed the Norquistian tax nonsense on his own state with absurd tax breaks on businesses and wealthy individuals that have left the state crippled financially, woefully short of revenue and lagging far behind neighboring states in job creation and job growth. In short, a disaster.

But now the music has stopped in Louisiana and Bobby Jindal is struggling to find a chair.

The same inter-party squabbles that Jindal is facing in his own state, are reflective of massive disagreement over federal spending in Washington as well.

The budget proposal that the Republican-majority House of Representatives released yesterday was filled with sweeping cuts to government spending so absurd in scope, it not only has zero chance of passing; even a number of Republicans are flabbergasted John Boehner had the nerve to release it.

President Obama promptly rejected it and stopped just short of mocking the loony Republican proposal to trim a staggering $5.5 TRILLION in Federal spending through savage cuts in food stamps, Medicaid and privatizing Medicare; THAT should go down with well with seniors in the 2016 elections.

Where did they even come up with that? Maybe Paul Ryan left it in his locker in the Congressional gym.

Even Republican Senators, many of whom are up for re-election in 2016, blasted Boehner's House budget as out of step with reality. But as the nation and the world have seen with the new Republican Congressional and Senate majorities; being in step with reality is not a GOP strong point, or a priority.

You can't govern if you can't do the math.

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