Daily Archives: March 22, 2012

Mario Piperni on Lying Billionaires

Lies, Deceit and Corporate Politics

March 22, 2012 By

Harold Simmons is an 80-year old billionaire. Harold Simmons has donated $18 million to Republican super PACs in the last year. Harold Simmons hates President Barack Obama with a passion.

Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama,” Simmons told the Journal, in what is the piece’s most provocative quote. “Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country.”

Alright, got it. Barack Obama is a capitalist-hating socialist and Simmons is a businessman, sorry, job-creator, and in that regard has every right to spend all he wishes (so says the Roberts’ SCOTUS) to prevent the President from winning a second term. Few, I believe, would fault a man for taking care of his own best interests…except that in the period 2006 to 2011, Harold Simmons’ net worth went from $4 billion to $10 billion. Not bad when considering that those profits were made in the midst of the worst economic downturn in 80 years. Now that the economy is slowly recovering under Chairman Obama’s rule, I imagine Simmons is concerned about his bottom line.

Harold Simmons is a delusional, lying billionaire who, in 2004, contributed $4 million to one of the largest, most blatant campaigns of lies and deceit ever to take place in U.S. presidential politics — the Swiftboater’s takedown of John Kerry. And now, in 2012, Simmons and his fellow millionaires and billionaires are doing it once again, this time with the help of the Citizen’s United ruling which has made it that much easier to pour millions into another campaign of lies and deceit.

Welcome to corporate politics by the unelected in 2012. Isn’t it pretty?

Ezra Klein on the House Budget

The House Budget Committee has 38 members. Twenty-two of them are Republicans, Sixteen on them are Democrats. The committee is chaired by Paul Ryan, the conservative heartthrob whose budgets have, over the last few years, come to define the modern Republican Party.

But on Wednesday night, when Ryan sent his latest budget to the committee that he runs, it squeaked through by one vote. And some of the dissenters were on his side of the aisle. Justin Amash and Tim Huelskamp, two of committee’s most conservative members, voted against Ryan’s plan. Another, Rick Mulvaney, voted for it in committee, but says he might vote against in on the House floor. As Erik Wasson reports in the Hill, “the tight vote indicates that next week House GOP leaders could face a larger floor defection than they did on last year’s budget, which got every Republican but four behind it.”

And the dissidents have powerful supporters. The Club for Growth came out in opposition to Ryan’s plan. “On balance, the Ryan Budget is a disappointment for fiscal conservatives,” they said in a statement.

The conservative skeptics all voice the same problem with the Ryan budget: It does not go far enough, fast enough. The budget doesn’t balance till 2040. The spending levels envisioned in this year’s budget are slightly higher than the spending levels envisioned in last year’s budget. The Medicare reforms have been moderated to preserve fee-for-service Medicare as an option, and Social Security remains untouched. (The Club for Growth, notably, also dings the budget for ducking the sequester. “By waiving the automatic spending cuts required under the Budget Control Act, this budget is asking Americans to trust future Congresses to do the hard work later,” scolds the organization.)

Which is, on the whole, an astounding criticism of Ryan’s budget. Whether you love it or loathe it, you should be able to recognize its extraordinary ambition. As Bob Greenstein, director of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote, “the new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature.” There’s simply no doubt that that’s true. In one document, the Affordable Care Act is repealed, Medicare is substantially privatized, Medicaid is turned over to the states, the tax code is flattened into two brackets, and, judging from the projected spending levels, the federal government’s role in infrastructure, worker retraining, education, nutrition support, veteran’s benefits, and much more dwindles to nearly nothing.

Of course, one could argue that, for most of the past half-century, many of today’s conservatives would be outside the bounds of mainstream discussion, too.