American Crossroads: “Replay”

American Crossroads sets a new standard for shameless dishonesty in a video pouncing on President Obama’s widely distorted comments about business owners. In the style of a sports highlight reel, the video starts with footage of the president saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” In context, Obama was clearly referring to things that make up “this unbelievable American system,” including publicly funded “roads and bridges,” but American Crossroads leaves that part out. Amazingly, the video goes on to show clips of Obama explaining that Republicans have misrepresented his words, before replaying the same out-of-context clip and concluding that “the tape’s pretty clear.”

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Ideological Lines Are Clear In Debate Over Student Loans

Americans now hold a trillion dollars in student loan debt, in large part because tuition has soared and state policies have shifted more and more of that increasing burden off taxpayers and onto would-be students. The remarkable threshold of aggregate debt has focused attention on a variety of legislative battles over financial aid programs. The interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford Loans was set to double this summer, for instance, until a late June compromise. Congressional Republicans had said the only impasse was over how to pay for the lower rates going forward, but the budget House Republicans passed this spring would have allowed the rates to double while also imposing steep cuts to the Pell Grant program for low-income students. The contrast between progressive and conservative aims for financial aid spending was perhaps clearest in 2010, however, when Democrats ended billions in giveaways to the banks who had acted as middle men for federally guaranteed loans; Republicans decried that efficiency move as a government “takeover” of the student loan industry.

Rising Tuition, Shrinking Public Funds, And A Trillion Dollars In Student Debt

Total Student Loan Debt Outstanding Has Reached Approximately $1 Trillion. From Inside Higher Ed: “Total student debt will pass $1 trillion soon, or surpassed that mark months ago or just last week, depending on which analysis you choose. (The Federal Reserve in March said total outstanding student loan debt stood at $870 billion. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau believes the debt surpassed $1 trillion several months ago. The Occupy movement picked April 25 to commemorate the $1 trillion mark with marches and protests.) Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.” [Inside Higher Ed, 5/3/12]

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Schlafly: Poor People Today “Don’t Know What Poverty Really Is”

At the Heritage Foundation Blogger Briefing on July 24, Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly said:

However, I grew up during the Great Depression. And I read the list that the Heritage Foundation made up of all the amenities and all the advantages that people living in poverty today enjoy. And I went over that list of 50 and I didn’t have a single one as I was growing up except for a stove and an oven. We didn’t even have a refrigerator because my father lost his job, and I think today’s people in poverty don’t know what poverty really is.

Fiscal Frauds: Conservatives Support Policies That Blew Up The Debt

From the Heritage Foundation to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) to purely political organizations like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, nearly the entire infrastructure of the right criticizes President Obama for the current state of our national debt. It is instructive to look back on these groups’ positions on the two primary drivers of both recent and future deficits: President Bush’s tax cuts and the expansion of the war on terror to Iraq. AEI, Heritage, and the Hoover Institution may be debt hawks now, but their roles in pushing the costly and misguided invasion of Iraq began almost before the wreckage was cleared at Ground Zero in New York City. And while it’s unremarkable that conservative institutions would support reducing taxes, the promises made in debate over the Bush tax cuts by Heritage, Americans for Tax Reform, and the like fly in the face of their current griping about our indebtedness.

Conservative Institutions Blame President Obama’s “Spending Binge” For Rising Debt

HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Heritage Foundation Decries Obama’s “Vision” Of “Deeper Deficits.” From the Heritage Foundation’s response to President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013: “The Administration’s apparent vision is one of bigger government, more spending, higher taxes, and deeper deficits. At a time when runaway spending and swelling deficits must be reversed, President Obama increases both.” [Heritage.org, 2/28/12]

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Crossroads GPS: “Suffered”

Crossroads GPS attempts to link “three years of crushing unemployment” to President Obama’s “failed” investments in clean energy through the Recovery Act. In addition to misrepresenting the program that provided loans for Solyndra and other companies, Crossroads GPS conveniently overlooks what really ‘crushed’ the job market: a historically devastating recession that was destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs per month when Obama was inaugurated. Since then, the avalanche of job losses has turned into steady growth, with the private sector gaining 4.5 million jobs over the last 29 months. The ad also blames Obama for the rising debt without noting the disastrous fiscal impact of Bush policies, such as tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and the recession.

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The Conservative Crusade To Decrease Voting

It’s no coincidence that conservative state legislatures launched an unprecedented wave of measures to make it harder to vote in the wake of the GOP’s sweeping state-level victories in 2010. With the dexterous hand of the American Legislative Exchange Council providing coordination, and the will to suppress the vote that’s animated the right for decades, the assault on ballot access isn’t really surprising either. But it is based on a deeply flawed premise: Claims of voter fraud are chronically exaggerated, and when organizations actually follow up on initial reports they almost always prove inaccurate or inflated. (President Bush’s DOJ, for all its zeal, turned up fewer than 100 convictions out of 300,000,000 votes cast.) However, for a movement that’s openly declared its hostility toward efforts to increase voter turnout in American elections, it doesn’t matter that there’s no fire behind all that smoke.

With Help From ALEC, GOP’s 2010 Wave Produced Voting Laws That Could Disenfranchise 5 Million Mostly Poor, Young, And Minority Voters

State-Level GOP Gains In 2010 Elections Led To Vast, Unprecedented Push To Restrict Voting Access. From the Brennan Center for Justice’s report on “Voting Law Changes In 2012”: “This year, at least thirty-four states introduced a record number of bills to require photo ID to vote. As Jenny Bowser, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, observed, ‘It’s remarkable … I very rarely see one single issue come up in so many state legislatures in a single session.’ […] There are at least two major reasons for this change. The first is the stark shift in the partisan makeup of state legislatures after 2010. As noted, there is typically a sharp partisan divide over the issue of strict voter ID requirements, with Republicans generally pushing more restrictive measures and Democrats generally opposing them. This year, in every case but one, strict voter ID bills were introduced by Republican legislators. Newly elected legislators introduced about a quarter of these bills. As a result of Republican electoral success in state houses across the country in 2010, proponents of strict voter ID bills were able to garner much greater legislative support than in the past. In the 2010 elections, Republicans picked up at least 675 state legislative seats across the country. Republicans therefore controlled both legislative chambers in twenty-six states, up from fourteen earlier in 2010.” [Brennan Center for Justice, “Voting Law Changes In 2012,” 2011, internal citations removed, emphasis added]

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“Freeloaders” Far From Tax-Free: Examining The Tax Burden Of Low-Income Americans

In their determination to prevent any tax increase for the wealthiest Americans, conservatives have argued that the real unfairness of our tax code is that approximately half the country did not pay income taxes in recent years due to their earnings levels and the tax credits aimed at middle- and low-income families. Though conservatives frequently describe these people as paying “no taxes,” the reality is that income taxes are only one facet of the tax code. Most of those without income tax liability still face the payroll tax, federal excise taxes, and state and local taxes. Meanwhile, one in four American millionaires paid a lower tax rate in 2006 than did 10.4 million middle-income Americans.

Despite Not Earning Enough To Incur Federal Income Taxes, Middle- And Low-Income Americans Do Pay Federal Taxes

Payroll And Excise Taxes Affect Americans At All Income Levels. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The reality is that the income tax is one of a number of types of taxes that individuals pay, both over the course of their lifetimes and in a given year, and it makes little sense to treat it as though it were the only one that matters. Some 86 percent of working households pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes. In fact, low- and moderate-income people pay a much larger share of their incomes in federal payroll taxes than high-income people do: taxpayers in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale paid an average of 8.8 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes in 2007, compared to just 1.6 percent for taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution (see Figure 2).

cbpp-taxes-low-income

[CBPP.org, 5/31/11, internal citations removed]

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Conservatives For Class Warfare

Ask someone what conservatives have in common and you’re likely to hear something about cutting taxes. As it turns out, the modern conservative movement would like to see taxes increased on one very specific group of people: struggling Americans who owed no federal income taxes in the aftermath of the Wall Street collapse. At the same time, conservatives insist that the jobless prefer government handouts to honest work. Though they decry any attempt to raise marginal tax rates on the wealthiest as some sort of attack on success, it appears conservatives are the ones waging class warfare.

“The New Republican Orthodoxy”: Raising Taxes On The Poor

Heritage Foundation Portrays Those Who Pay No Income Taxes As “The Non-Taxpaying Public” Who “Paid Nothing.” From the Heritage Foundation: “One of the most worrying trends in the Index [of Dependence on Government] is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public. The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009. This means that in 1984, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes; in 2009, 151.7 million paid nothing.” [Heritage.org, 2/8/12]

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Rep. Gohmert Links Aurora To “Attacks On Judeo-Christian Beliefs”

From the July 20 edition of Heritage Foundation’s “Istook Live!” radio show:

ERNEST ISTOOK (HOST): You know, we were going to talk about other things but since you are a former judge and you dealt with criminal cases on the bench, and I don’t know that you ever had something that was such a crime that is senseless as we seem to be seeing in this theater shooting, with at least a dozen people killed, evidently, in Aurora, Colorado. What– what is your experience with the way that we have too many twisted minds in our society?

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Well, some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom that that was important, you know, whether it’s John Adams saying, ‘Our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people, it’s wholly inadequate to government of any others.’ Ben Franklin: ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.’ I mean it goes on and on. You know, George Washington: ‘Of all the dispositions and habits which are – which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable support.’ We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country, and when, you know, what really gets me as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.

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Divorced From Reality: The Right’s Alternate History Of The Financial Crisis

From its intellectuals to its political leaders, the American conservative movement has fully endorsed an interpretation of the Bush-era housing bubble and Wall Street collapse that cannot be reconciled with reality. The political right insists that government policy encouraging homeownership among low-to-moderate-income families is the primary – or even the only – cause of the crisis. But data on the home loan industry shows this argument is false. In fact, the subprime boom was driven by private firms who were exempt from the much-vilified Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, not by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government’s contribution to the crisis was its failure to regulate Wall Street, not its efforts to expand homeownership.

Right-Wing Rationale: It Was The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) And Government Lenders

GOP Presidential Candidates Blamed Government Policy For Housing Crisis. From Bloomberg: “The Republicans say the federal government pressed banks to make risky housing loans under a 1977 law called the Community Reinvestment Act, helping inflate home prices and ultimately sparking the crash. ‘The reason we have the housing crises we have is that the federal government played too heavy a role in our markets,’ Romney said in a Nov. 9 Republican debate. ‘The federal government came in with Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac, and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd told banks they had to give loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back.’ Gingrich has suggested jailing Frank, the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Dodd, who headed the Senate Banking Committee until his retirement this year.” [Bloomberg, 12/21/11]

Read more after the jump.