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).


[, 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.” [, 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]

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FRC’s Boykin: “I Don’t Know” If Obama’s In Muslim Brotherhood

QUESTIONER: My question is with all the visits that the Muslim Brotherhood has made to the White House, and President Obama’s acting as a catalyst between Libya and the Arab Spring, and Egypt, is he a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?


QUESTIONER: President Obama.

BOYKIN: Yeah, let me tell you something that you probably don’t know. And my answer is I don’t know. But Jeremiah Wright was a member of the Nation of Islam. How many of you realize that? He came out of college and joined the Nation of Islam. The theology of the Nation of Islam is James Cone’s liberation theology. Jeremiah Wright looked at the hierarchy in the Nation of Islam, realized he’d never get to the top because of Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X, so he left Nation of Islam, went back and got his Ph.D., went to Chicago and planted a “Christian Church” and took James Cone’s theology and changed it to black liberation theology and began to teach the same thing in a “Christian,” and I use the term loosely, “Christian church.” So Mr. Obama sat under the teachings of James Cone, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether he was in the Nation of Islam or whether he was in a Christian church. He got the same theology, which was James Cone’s Marxist liberation theology, which runs parallel to the whole doctrine of Islam, which is all about social justice up to a point where Islam turns right and says there’s no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet, and Marxism turns left and says we’re an atheist therefore we’re communist. So he got the same thing, so I mean, I can’t—if he says he is Christian, I accept that he is a Christian. But the question is what kind of theology did he get in that Christian church.

[via Right Wing Watch]

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U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “Shelley Berkley, In The Wrong Corner For Small Business In Nevada”

An ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce targets Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) for supporting health care reform and clean energy legislation. The ad asserts that the Affordable Care Act “hurts small businesses,” citing as evidence a Gallup survey of small business owners that, in fact, contains no mention of the health care law. Of course, the Chamber’s misrepresentation of ACA is predictable considering that health insurers paid it more than $100 million to oppose reform. The ad’s demonization of a clean energy bill supported by Berkley is similarly problematic, relying on a biased analysis from the right-wing Heritage foundation to exaggerate the legislation’s potential impact on Nevada families.

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Crossroads GPS: “Tried”

A Crossroads GPS ad attacking President Obama wrongly suggests several consequences of the recession are the result of the president’s economic policies. In fact, it’s Bush-era policies that drove up the federal debt, while the private sector has added jobs in each of 28 consecutive months for a total of 4.5 million new jobs since March 2010.

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American Crossroads: “Obama’s War On Women”

In a minute-long web video, American Crossroads triumphantly throws out every statistic it can find about the recession’s impact on women, claiming that higher poverty and unemployment among women add up to evidence of a “war on women” that’s “being waged in our economy.” But video clips of sad women looking out windows don’t make this line of attack any more valid than conservative groups’ standard attempt to blame overall recession-driven job losses on President Obama, who inherited an economy already hemorrhaging millions of jobs. In fact, while the recession impacted men and women differently by virtue of the fact that male-dominated industries like manufacturing were hit first, with jobs in which women are more heavily represented impacted later, men suffered the heaviest job losses in the recession. They also started earlier on the road to recovery, as Republican-favored trimming of the public sector continues to disproportionately impact women.

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AFA’s Fischer On LGBT Community’s “Christophobic Hatred”

On the July 10, 2012, edition of “Focal Point,” American Family Association director of issues analysis Bryan Fischer said:

I am convinced that there is plenty of hatred in the debate over homosexuality, there’s a lot of hatred, there’s a lot of vitriol, there’s a lot of venom. It’s coming from the homosexuals themselves. The real haters are homosexuals. The real venom is coming from those that support the homosexual agenda — either homosexual activists, homosexuals, or those that support the homosexual agenda. They are the real haters. There is a heterophobic hatred, there is a Christophobic hatred that is just seething, there’s a dark, venemous, demonic hatred that is in the homosexual community. [via Right Wing Watch]