Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Plan? There ain't no plan!"

You probably have something to vote for today. If you do, go.

Today at the Springfield polls, the major issue is whether or not to approve a 3/4-cent sales tax to help defray a shortfall in the police-fire pension fund. Due to bad investments and the economic meltdown (among other complicated factors), the fund is $238 million short. This is money that legally has to be paid, and previous attempts to introduce a tax have failed. As a result, the city has had to make severe cuts to a lot of services, such as shutting down fire stations in rotating shifts and not hiring for vacant police positions. Which, I suppose, is one way of ensuring fewer pensions to pay in the future.

Of course, these drastic cuts still aren't enough to convince the anti-tax crowd that some kind of capital source is needed to shore up the fund. Or that any kind of tax is useful, ever. Not that anyone ever refuses the services, as far as I'm aware. Or has an alternate plan, apparently.

For the past few days, a local anti-tax group has blitzed the airwaves with ads, the central message being, "Vote no. Tell them we want a better plan."

What is the better plan? They don't know! Like most of today's conservative obstructionists, they haven't outlined an alternate plan that I'm aware of, and I've been following the issue very closely. My suspicion is, they don't have a plan, and they may not even care. Just as long as the tax fails, because taxes are bad, even if some very dire public consequences result from not having them. And, sadly, that attitude might just be enough for this proposal to fail. I hope I'm wrong.

It's funny how firefighters and police officers are such heroes to us, but we can't bother to support them with our hard-earned 3/4-cents. I'll vote to do so. Fire bad!

19 comments:

herb said...

Why is it that Republicans are the only ones that have to produce detailed plans when criticizing Democrat plans? I don't recall Democrats offering many alternative plans during the Bush years when they caterwauled about every plan put forth by the administration.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, first off, not going to war in Iraq (and engaging in diplomacy and/or going after the people responsible for 9/11) is pretty self-explanatory. Also, a progressive tax cut instead of a regressive supply-side tax was touted quite a bit. It wasn't all obstruct, obstruct, obstruct with the Democrats during the Bush years. Indeed, Bush had lots of Democratic support in those days.

Today's GOP is more interested in ensuring that Obama and the Democrats never accomplish anything than actually trying to help this country. They offer no serious alternatives on health care, the war or other prevalent issues. And that to me is very telling of their motivations. Because if the right had any answers, they wouldn't be able to tout them fast enough.

In any case, saying Republicans don't have to have answers because the Democrats don't is not only untruthful, but is also lame. I've written before about how the GOP often lowers the bar, comparing its methods with al-Qaida and/or the perceived worst behavior of the Democrats. If the party wants any relevance, it's going to have to push for some actual solutions, not just reactionary anger.

herb said...

But Democrats have wide majorities in both houses, how exactly are Republicans making sure they "never accomplish anything". Democrats don't need a single Republican vote for any piece of legislation. I'm really getting tired of hearing this "obstruction" line from Democrats, you all know it's bull.

NOLA Progressive said...

100% no votes on key legislation is obstructionist whether the vote is needed or not for passage. Also, the Republican disinformation campaigns go a long way to making it extremely difficult for those Dem. Reps in more conservative states to represent their constituent's best interests. Landrieu is a great example. A bunch of knuckleheads down here believe in "death panels" and government takeovers, and suddenly Landrieu is spinning a government administered public insurance option is a bad thing out of one side of her mouth, while talking about increasing V.A. benefits on the other. It's a bunch of bunk and it starts with the GOP lie and fear mongering.

herb said...

Ah so that wily 'ol GOP is responsible for Democrats pandering to their constituents.

Bravo on the originality, I hadn't that one before.

I find it funny a guy that wholeheartedly subscribes to the Dem belief that millions will die(dun dun DUN!) unless this health care package is passed is decrying "lie and fear mongering". I guess it's OK when YOUR side does it?

Ian McGibboney said...

Herb, your comment - especially when compared to NOLA's - perfectly exemplifies this debate.

On one side, you have facts and reasoned opinion. You make some excellent points, NOLA. (And that's just the national stage. The obstructionism is even worse at the local level of which I wrote about) On the other side, demagoguery and red herrings.

What I see from the Democrats, even if I disagree with it sometimes, is a proactive attempt to [name it]. The Republicans and their supporters, on the other hand, have jack. Nothing in terms of serious legislation, no desire to work with Democrats, no statements beyond bully talk, scorn and sarcasm. It goes far beyond honest dissent into the realm of absurdity.

Herb, write me back when you have something to say other than, "YOUR side blah blah blah..." Not only is it a false comparison, but it shows no effort on your (or your side's) part to be better than those they try to project upon.

herb said...

I'm sorry, what "facts" do you have?

Ian, just because you deeply believe the words you say doesn't instantly make them facts. Do you even understand how to debate and carry on a conversation or do you always stick your fingers in your ears and LALALALALA away until people stop wasting their time?

I made a very valid point. Democrats have majorities and can pass whatever they please, it's the moderates IN THEIR OWN PARTY that are obstructionists. Is that FACT just something you think you can ignore while prattling on about powerless Republicans making Democrats pander?

Ian McGibboney said...

Herb, I'm going ignore the projection and address your "valid point":

1) NOLA has already addressed your question. I can't phrase it any better. Why don't you start from there? That is, if you really want to address the issue instead of harp on me.

2) I said nothing about "powerless Republicans making Democrats pander." That's all you. What I said was, there's a lot of opposition from Republicans and other teabaggers that is not only misleading, but has an air of petty partisanship. Don't try to tell me the GOP stands for anything these days other than stalling Obama. That's ALL they're about now. And you might think that's a dandy goal, Herb, but personally, I'd rather see some substance from that party. I can't even say I disagree with them right now, because they stand for NOTHING. And they want to ensure that everyone falls down with them.

herb said...

Bitching about a party because they "stand for nothing" is funny coming from a charter member of the ANYBODY BUT BUSH crowd. Oh but wait let me guess, the Democrats standing for nothing but stalling Bush and engaging in "petty partisanship" was OK then because he was a nazi or something right?

And by the way Ian, the Republicans have a plan, it's just doesn't get the cheerleading press coverage Obama's does.

http://www.gop.gov/solutions/healthcare

Maybe if the Democrats didn't shut out Republicans and craft their healthcare bills behind closed doors with lobbyists then you might hear more about Republican ideas for health care.

NOLA Progressive said...

Herb, I do concede your point. If the Blue Dogs/Rightward leaning Democrats would spine-up then the Dems could indeed pass anything and everything they wanted. There is absolutely no denying that fact, and it is a good one.

The point I was making, however, is that when you have some significant legislation passed with absolutely zero Republican votes, that warrants an obstructionist label from me.

Also, what Ian is saying stands firm. All the GOP has attempted to do since the Democrats took control of the Hill and House is find a way to blast and stop anything that they tried to propose or pass. There has been almost no substantial proposals for legislation or compromise on anything from the Republican caucus.

I mean come on, you remember what it looked like over the Congressional recess. Death panels and craziness abounded. Those flames were stoked by the GOP. The dialogue could have simply been, "We disagree with the amount of spending proposed on this legislation, and propose x,y,z instead". Then a conversation could have taken place. Instead we got "You're going to kill our grandparents, take away our Medicare (gov't run chuckle), and slaughter mentally handicapped children". So yes, Herb I do think that the obstructionist label can be slapped on the Republican party with equity in relation to conservative Dems.

NOLA Progressive said...

Oh and also Herb, I think it is important to note that when 42 some-odd thousand people die every year from lack of, or no health insurance, it isn't fear mongering. It's called counting.

Ian McGibboney said...

Herb - Interesting link. I like especially how there's two PDFs - a summary and the whole bill - and then a bunch of links about Nancy Pelosi. And how the summary opens with a stab at Pelosi, and ends with the very same vacuous platitudes that the GOP accuses the Democrats of using.

I'll concede the full bill is unreadable enough to possibly be serious. But again, it seems to me that if there was any weight to the bill, the summary wouldn't be padded the way it is.

And i disagree vehemently that the Democrats have shut out the Republicans. If anything, Obama has continued to reach out long after the GOP has made it clear that half-assed obstruction is their goal throughout the Obama presidency.

NOLA - You nailed it again. If the Republicans had really wanted to end the town hall hysteria and the "death panel" talk, they could have. But they learned from McCain's experience last October that their constituents don't want to hear Obama is a good man and that their policies might help them too. They're just pleasing their base, which is so pointlessly political as to be pathetic.

herb said...

I think if either of you stepped outside of your partisan box you would see that the exact thing you accuse Republicans of doing was and is done by Democrats. You do know history didn't start on January 20th 2009, right? During the last presidency Democrats did the same type fear mongering and obstruction and I'm sure you cheered them on...but now that type of thing is bad. Very convenient.

And NOLA, I don't care how many people die, it's not the job of government to provide health care for everyone.

Ian McGibboney said...

Herbicide: "The exact thing you accuse Republicans of doing was and is done by Democrats."

That's not true and it's not the point. But even if everything you're saying WAS true, Herb, it does not serve the Republicans well to base their entire existence on serving revenge against the Democrats.

You frame everything you say on the premise that I'm a hypocrite and/or the GOP is a persecuted minority just getting vengeance. In that respect, you sound no different than the hundreds of other conservatives I read, see and talk to on a daily basis. Oh, we need to obstruct Obama's policies because they're socialist! We need Fox News because every other network is liberal! We need to curb immigration and secular and Muslim influence because we white Christians are having our country taken away from us! We need to end all government aid programs so that welfare cheats can stop making away our hard-earned money from us!

Waah, waah, waah. And WE'RE supposed to be the whiners?

Every single word that comes out your mouth is a reactionary, partisan outrage that feeds off something I or NOLA says. If we shut up, you would not have ONE THING to talk about.

Look, Herb, I'm sorry conservatives don't have a single policy position that isn't empirically and morally bankrupt, but that doesn't justify your, nor anyone else's, vapid rhetoric.

herb said...

"it does not serve the Republicans well to base their entire existence on serving revenge against the Democrats."

They're not. If you followed either of the recent elections in NJ and VA, both Republicans ran on solid policy issues...and won handily. That's the model Republicans will follow into mid-terms because if you'll notice the "tea party" candidate (that wasn't support by the GOP, btw) lost in NY-23. So while it may seem to you that Republicans are basing their election strategy on "revenge", the actual truth, as evidenced by yesterdays results show otherwise.

"Every single word that comes out your mouth is a reactionary, partisan outrage that feeds off something"

I love this part, especially how it's followed by your own partisan outrage at conservative "morally bankrupt" policies. Pot, meet kettle.

Ian McGibboney said...

I hope you're right, Herb. I genuinely want to see true policy debate, and the local level might be the best place for it to re-emerge.

Here, both issues I had to vote for won. The pension got its 3/4 cent sales tax and the schools got a tax to pay for air conditioners. This in a very conservative, low-tax district. Some of the voters interviewed in the media said they came on board because their want for decent protection overrode their fears of high taxes. A potential court action was also likely in case of failure, which probably helped its passage too.

I'm encouraged because I think there's still plenty of smart conservatives out there. But their state and national leadership is sorely lacking and not at all representative of anyone but their loudest cohorts. And they're the idiots.

NOLA Progressive said...

Really Herb you don't care how many people die? You care enough to call simple counting of those who do "fear mongering".

The government doesn't provide anything. We provide it to each other, and that's the difference between us both personally and across loose party lines. I do care, and many more like me do care. We are willing to help each other out and provide each other with fundamental quality of life needs such as health care. There is no debate when the contrast is that stark.

It really doesn't matter who obstructed who in the past, although we coudl have quite a go at that discussion as well. We are all supposed to be adults, and we teach our children two wrongs don't make a right. I think common sense dictates that revenge seeking, whether that other meanie did it or not, is a bad idea for us all.

There's a reason why that bill you linked to doesn't get much coverage. It's junk. Republicans don't even like it. I mean I can put a dog tird in a bag and label it a Republican option, but that doesn't make it viable. Possibly more viable than what the Republican has currently labeled as an option, but still not a good one.

herb said...

"It really doesn't matter who obstructed who in the past"

As I said, how convenient.

I'm almost positive you haven't even read the GOP alternative, hell I'm sure you haven't even read the Democrat plan either. And Republicans don't like it? I guess they created a website and showcased it on the GOP site because the hate it? Makes perfect sense.

NOLA Progressive said...

Herb. I don't agree with you at all on your views of Democratic obstruction in the past, let me be clear.

However, I am setting aside what would be a mindnumbing argument with you on the premise that it really doesn't matter. The point is that it shouldn't be the lone purpose of any political party. You may spout off about being "convenient" all you want, but it is simple logic. So ad hominem until you turn blue in the face, but all you are doing in predicating everything that you say on a "two wrongs make a right" mentality.

Further, I have indeed read the House healthcare bill in full and keep up with the Senate legislation altough I have not read every word of that one. Also, I did read Mr. Fake and Bake's plan. One of the reasons that I took some time to respond to this thread yesterday is that I wanted to read through it. I have also looked at what the CBO has to say about it as well. Guess what Herb? Ain't soooo good chief.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/11/congressional_budget_office_th.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/03/boehners-health-care-bill_n_343792.html

http://news.firedoglake.com/2009/11/05/gop-health-care-plan-pulverized-by-the-cbo/

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/107xx/doc10705/hr3962amendmentBoehner.pdf

It won't reduce the defecit by as much, and it won't insure nearly the amount of people the Democratic plan will. Also it has no gurantee to put an end to pre-existing condition denials, which the overwhelming majority of the country is in favor of, Republican and Democrat alike.

So again, it got plenty of press coverage in video and print, but you just can't polish a turd.

Look I get you don't think people are entitled to healthcare. We have an ideaological difference there. No matter how much I despise that line of thinking, I am resigned to admit that many share it. I want nothing less than a single payer system, and you want absolutely no government intervention in healthcare. I get it, but dont' paint a dim-whitted slapped together piece of junk like this Boehner plan as a real alternative. Also dont' pretend like there is some grand conspiracy to keep it out of the press when there is video and print record of its coverage all over the place.

Where we are at is an impasse. All we can do is wait to see what happens. I sincerely hope that this legislation will pass without triggers for the public option, and that will begin an inevitable transition into either a full single payer system or a highly regulated hybrid gov't/private system like that of a few Nordic nations.

I don't know, but what I do know is the very same point Ian started this thread out with. The Republicans are simply not offering any or at least very very few good ideas in any of this. And yes, they are definitely doing everything they can to deceive people and scare them into voting against anything the Democrats propose.