Banana Republicans

— by CAP Action War Room

The Latest House GOP Meltdown Has Been A Long Time Coming, And It’s Not Just About Them

The same tumultuous group that led the Republican Party to control the House of Representatives is now at the center of the latest and most public display of Republican dysfunction, or as Rep. Peter King (R-NY) calls it, “a banana republic.” Amidst absurd infighting in the House over Planned Parenthood funding, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was more or less forced to announce his future resignation, leaving the GOP needing to find the next Speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was the favorite to replace Boehner, until he unexpectedly and dramatically dropped out yesterday afternoon, leading members of Congress to openly weep and pronounce their caucus has hit “rock bottom.”

The media frenzy surrounding these events has focused on intrigue like it is an episode of “House of Cards.” Was there something behind why McCarthy took himself out of the running? Will Paul Ryan step up and run for speaker despite repeatedly pledging not to? But here’s what is much more important: this self-inflicted leadership breakdown is just one more chapter in a story of House Republican recklessness – and their own caucus hasn’t been the only victim. House GOP dysfunction has resulted in a string of harmful policies and American families have paid the price. Here are just a few examples:

  • The GOP orchestrated the reckless government shutdown in 2013 which had a devastating impact on our economy. Republican leaders bowed to the will of their extreme right wing to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act. The shutdown lost Americans at least 120,000 jobs, prevented sick Americans from enrolling in clinical trials, forced Head Start programs for children to shut down, stalled veterans’ disability claims, delayed $4 billion in tax returns for Americans, and severely hurt small businesses. Overall, S&P estimates that the Republicans cost the United States economy a whopping $24 billion with their shutdown.
  • The GOP has repeatedly used the debt ceiling to manufacture crises. In order to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid global economic collapse, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling from time to time. Yet, GOP leaders have repeatedly joined with their unyielding Tea Party caucus to manipulate these once run-of-the-mill debt ceiling increases for their own gain. In 2011, the GOP threatened to force the United States into a default – to “crash the global economy,” as Time put it – which was only averted after both sides agreed to $1.2 trillion in economically damaging sequestration cuts. This behavior led to a U.S. credit rating downgrade. In 2013, the GOP used this brinksmanship again to attempt to make cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the SNAP food program, again putting the credit-worthiness of the United States in jeopardy.
  • The GOP also used a manufactured crisis to force sequestration cuts that are still hurting the economy today. The Republican-induced sequester disproportionately hurt low-income and middle class families. It led to significant cuts to funding for education, small business, and health research. Sequestration overall will cause approximately 1.8 million people to lose their jobs.

Clearly, the GOP’s inability to control their own party has already caused a lot of damage to our economy and the well-being of American taxpayers. And yet, as their conference devolves again into chaos, they have no inclination to change their backwards policies or irresponsible behavior. They have no plans to avert the upcoming shutdown or increase the debt ceiling, even though the United States could default on its obligations if Congress doesn’t act by November 5th. House Republicans are not only distracted by their internal pandemonium, going into the upcoming budget negotiations they remain committed to the backwards, policy ideas and reckless political strategy that have caused so many problems for themselves, but more importantly for the American people.

BOTTOM LINE: The GOP’s current state of disarray has been a long time coming. The party’s leadership gave in to a minority of its members who are devoted to pushing devastating cuts to working-and middle-class families in pursuit of rigid and impractical ideological principles. The result has been a government in a state of perpetual dysfunction. And while House Republicans may be paying the price with negative news coverage, it is American families who pay the real price of their extreme policies.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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National and State-by-State Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

By Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford

On April 16, 2013, the Senate’s “Gang of 8”—a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators—filed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. At the core of the bill is a provision that will provide a pathway to earned legalization and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.

Undocumented immigrants are currently earning far less than their potential and therefore paying much less in taxes than they otherwise would be. Overall, they are contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy than they potentially could. With legalization and citizenship, undocumented immigrants will produce and earn more, pay more in taxes, boost the American economy, increase the incomes of all Americans, and promote job growth.

This analysis of the economic impact on 24 states, many with the largest undocumented populations, demonstrates that it is not just the nation but also each individual state that will benefit from immigration reform. The sooner we grant legal status and provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, the sooner all Americans will be able to reap these benefits.

Read more and download the full issue brief here.

Fracking Exports

Selling liquefied natural gas to foreign markets doesn’t serve U.S. interests.

By Deb Nardone
Deb Nardone
In recent years, the natural gas industry has plunged deeper and deeper into the reckless practice of “fracking,” putting communities nationwide at risk of dirty, dangerous pollution and practices that are exempt from many clean air and water laws. Now gas profiteers have realized that there’s even more money to be made by liquefying the gas and shipping it overseas. So what if it comes at the cost of our air, water, and health?

We could soon see more gas exported per day than we currently use to generate electricity. That would mean a lot more fracking — a dangerous process that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, and a secret cocktail of toxic chemicals underground to force out natural gas.

Outrageously, the natural gas industry doesn’t have to disclose what chemicals it uses to mine gas through fracking, nor are companies required to dispose of hazardous waste in a safe manner or limit the amount of toxic pollution they spew into the air. In many places, fracking has sickened local residents, disrupted underlying geology and aquifers, contaminated water supplies, and polluted the air.

But the environmental costs of natural gas exports don’t stop there. Once the gas is extracted, it needs to travel from production sites to coastal export terminals through hundreds of miles of pipelines. Such pipelines could cut across private property, scenic waterways, and public parks, putting our air, water, and land at risk. Where existing pipelines are used to transport natural gas, they will have to be expanded.

Then there are the environmental impacts associated with building the natural gas export terminals, or expanding existing terminals. These terminals will often require sensitive estuaries to be dredged to make room for massive tankers, and the huge industrial machinery needed to liquefy gas will increase air and water pollution. Expanding facilities and ship traffic will also take their toll on coastal communities, their economies, and the environment.

Finally, the energy needed to cool and liquefy natural gas to be shipped overseas leaves a carbon footprint on par with coal — increasing our dangerous reliance on dirty fossil fuels and worsening climate disruption.

Before authorizing natural gas exports to countries such as Japan and China, the Department of Energy must first conduct a thorough public analysis to determine whether those exports serve the public interest. This analysis is critical to understand the environmental and economic impacts associated with natural gas exports and to build a deliberate energy policy that protects the interests of the American public.

Our nation — and the rest of the world — can do better by finding alternative ways to power our homes and businesses. Clean, renewable, and homegrown energy exists today and is already being heavily used nationwide. In Iowa, wind power generates 20 percent of the state’s electricity. The city of San Antonio is retiring its coal-fired plants in favor of solar power, which is already creating hundreds of jobs.

Ultimately, the only safe, smart, and responsible way to address our nation’s energy needs is to look beyond dirty energy and scale up clean sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. Let’s protect our air, water, and our health by moving beyond natural gas.


Deb Nardone is the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign.http://sierraclub.org/naturalgas.  Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)