Thursday, February 16, 2012

The GOP's Stampede Toward Lunacy

Garry Wills at NYRB:
By a revolting combination of con men and fanatics, the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office. Take the controversy over contraceptives. American bishops at first opposed having hospitals and schools connected with them pay employee health costs for contraceptives. But when the President backed off from that requirement, saying insurance companies can pay the costs, the bishops doubled down and said no one should have to pay for anything so evil as contraception. Some Republicans are using the bishops’ stupidity to hurt the supposed “moderate” candidate Mitt Romney, giving a temporary leg up to the faux naïf Rick Santorum; others are attacking Barack Obama as an “enemy of religion.”...

The Phony Religious Freedom Argument

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Who's "entitled"?

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Some conservative critics of federal social programs, including leading presidential candidates, are sounding an alarm that the United States is rapidly becoming an “entitlement society” in which social programs are undermining the work ethic and creating a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work.  A new CBPP analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs[1] spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.  (See Figure 1.)  This figure has changed little in the past few years.

CBPP continues:
In a December 2011 op-ed, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney warned ominously of the dangers that the nation faces from the encroachment of the “Entitlement Society,” predicting that in a few years, “we will have created a society that contains a sizable contingent of long-term jobless, dependent on government benefits for survival.”  “Government dependency,” he wrote, “can only foster passivity and sloth.”[2]  Similarly, former Senator Rick Santorum said that recent expansions in the “reach of government” and the spending behind them are “systematically destroying the work ethic.”[3]