Cold Hearted and Hard Headed – Modern Conservative Economics

The  GOP’S Genetic Link to  BIG OIL

If scientists were to compare the DNA of Republican congress-critters and of oil corporations, I’ll bet they’d find that they match perfectly. After all, the two species have identical political instincts and seem to have a natural affinity for each other — so I’m pretty sure they sprang from the same genetic pool.

How else can you explain the remarkable gusher of compassion that Republican lawmakers are presently directing toward Big Oil in general and BP in particular? For example, only hours after winning his party’s nomination for a Kentucky Senate seat, GOP teabag darling Rand Paul was on national TV decrying Barack Obama as “un-American” for daring to demand that BP be held accountable for its human and ecological destruction in the Gulf of Mexico.

Next came Minnesota’s Lioness of Loopiness, Michelle Bachmann, implying that the hard-hit people of the Gulf are shiftless moochers who’re using the oil disaster to grab corporate cash. Brimming with tears of compassion, the kooky congresswoman wailed that “(BP) shouldn’t have to be fleeced and made chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest.”

And who can ever forget the astonishing public apology to BP’s CEO by the oil-soaked Texas Republican Joe Barton? After Obama had gotten agreement from BP to set aside $20 billion to cover some of the damages it has caused, Barton called Obama’s actions a presidential “shakedown.” He asserted that it made him “ashamed” to live in America, and he obsequiously begged forgiveness from the reckless CEO whose faulty wells killed 11 American workers and continues to do inestimable economic and ecological harm.

Speaking of ecological harm, nature needs us to focus. All of us who love polar bears, whales, seabirds and other wildlife should put our minds together to send an urgent telepathic message to the animals in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. Our message is blunt: Flee! Flee as fast as you can! Flee, because BP is coming!

While our public attention has been riveted on BP’s disastrous blowout in the Gulf, the British oil giant has been quietly and quickly drilling another risky offshore well three miles off Alaska’s north coast.

Dubbed “Liberty,” this project requires a technique called “extended reach,” which is even more prone to explosions than the process used in the Gulf. First, BP is drilling down two miles under the Beaufort Sea, drilling sideways for up to eight miles to tap into one of our national oil reserves.

But wait — didn’t Obama impose a moratorium on such offshore drilling? Yes … but when Liberty was planned in the George W. Bush years, it was magically declared by his Republican devil-may-care regulators to be an “onshore project.” How can that be? Because the rig sits on a tiny artificial island that BP built, so — voila! — it’s “onshore” even though it’s three miles offshore.

Also, just as in the Gulf, industry-cozy regulators let BP write its own environmental impact statements for Liberty. And — guess what? — BP’s 2007 statement said BP would cause no environmental problems. A-OK, said the winking regulators, as they rubber-stamped the project. And what about a disaster response plan, just in case, you know, something bad does happen? Not to worry, BP assured everyone, because the likelihood of a blowout is very remote.

Didn’t we hear that about BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, too?  ( article links and emphasis mine)

So a company that makes $66 million dollars a day in profits – not gross income – has conservative apologists coming out of the woodwork. People that work in other industries and businesses along the Gulf get zero respect from conservatives who claimed the tea parties were a symbol of their populist credentials. Conservatives, who in an eerie echo of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” claimed they represented and cared about average Americans. Oil spill takes toll

For those who rely on tourism for their livelihoods, the spill couldn’t have come at a worse time. Summer is prime tourist season for communities dotting the Gulf. Louisiana saw $1.36 billion of its more than $8 billion in tourism dollars generated by its Gulf region last year. Alabama’s beaches produced 25% of the $9.2 billion in tourism dollars reaped by the state in 2009. And of the 19 million visitors who flocked to Mississippi July 2008 through June 2009, 5.5 million traveled to the state’s three coastal counties.

In Mississippi, the spill could result in a $120 million loss to non-casino tourism in the state’s coastal areas this summer, according to a study released this month by the University of Southern Mississippi. And the average daily rates for hotels in the Gulf region continue to drop, according to the travel website Travelocity.

These very same Republicans whose policies were largely responsible for the Great Recession and yammer incoherently over Obama’s inability to wave his magic wand and fix the mess they made have no apologies for the Gulf Coast other industries,

The estuarine influence of the Mississippi River makes the northern Gulf of Mexico one of the world’s most productive commercial fisheries. Dockside values in 2008 for the five U.S. states bordering the northern Gulf of Mexico exceeded $661.4 million. More than half of this value is attributable to the shrimp fishery, which accounted for more than $366.5 million in income to harvesters in 2008. Additional fisheries of major economic importance to the region include: oysters ($60.2 million), crabs ($58.5 million) and menhaden ($64.3 million). Dockside fisheries landings and values are provided by state and species in Figure 1.

[  ]…It is important to note that dockside harvest values are only a part of the fisheries-dependent economy. These values must be adjusted to incorporate additional economic activities along the wholesale to retail market-chain continuum. The ultimate assessment of fisheries-related oil spill impacts will require consideration of losses not only to harvesters, but also to seafood dealers, processors, retailers and the tourism sector. Economic multipliers ranging from 1.5X to 3X of dockside value are typically used by university economists to capture the broader suite of related business activities supported by domestic seafood landings.

[  ]…According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 2.48 million anglers purchased marine fishing licenses in the five U.S. Gulf states in 2006. Many of these anglers rely on fishing guides and charter services to access coastal fisheries. In 2009, the Gulf region had more than 3,300 licensed charter boat captains (Figure 1). Sea Grant is currently conducting an economic survey of the recreational-for-hire sector in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Results of that survey will be available in late summer 2010 and should prove useful in gauging any losses resulting to this sector as a result of the Horizon oil spill.

The right-wingers silence about the genuine victims of the BP spill speaks volumes about their real concerns. Number one is always to create a mythical narrative in which they have no responsibility for the consequences of their polices – in this case the unholy worship of deregulation. Two, never bad mouth the sugar daddy industries who are the true constituency of the Republican Party.

Like President Obama once said I don’t begrudge people making money. Unlike conservatives and right-wing libertarians I do distinguish between greed and making a fair profit. By encouraging and even apologizing for  unethical behavior conservatives have institutionalized corruption and petty selfishness. Whether it is BP or Wall St it is working class Americans that must pay. Business, no matter how deep the corruption or negligence must not be made to pay their fair share. Republican Tom Emmer who is running for governor of Minnesota typifies the conservative world view – MN GOP Gov. Candidate Tom Emmer’s Idea For Economic Growth: Cut The Minimum Wage Of Bartenders And Waiters

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Emmer proposed cutting the minimum wage for service workers who receive tips, such as bartenders and waiters. In order to justify the cut, Emmer said that some of these employees earn “over $100,000 a year,” and even make more than the people who employ them..

[  ]..In making his case for cutting the minimum wage for service employees, Emmer cites a figure that is wildly misrepresentative. While it may be true that “some” service workers can earn “over $100,000 a year,” most do not. According to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), Minnesota food and beverage service workers earned an average of $10.45 an hour in May 2010, a number that includes tips.

That means that the average full-time worker whose salary Emmer wants to cut likely earns less than a third of the dollar figure he cited in pushing for the cuts. Rather than trying to punish working class Minnesotans for the sins of the financial elite that sent the economy into a tailspin, maybe Emmer should be working to stop the massive teacher layoffs and tuition hikes that his Republican colleague Gov. Tim Pawlenty has caused with his stubborn refusal to raise revenues by taxing the super wealthy.

In other words simply returning tax rates for multi-millionaires to what they were during the Saint Ronnie administration or the booming 90s, Emmer and presidential hopeful Pawlenty believes will make businesses tank. In conworld economics looks a lot like a religious cult rather than a social science. They believe things and despite the record, what they believe becomes true by some sort of magic.

An Offer Republicans Can’t Refuse on Jobless Benefits

During the comparatively mild 1991 recession, President George H.W. Bush twice vetoed the extension of unemployment insurance because the $5.3 billion price tag would add to the deficit. After taking a pounding in the polls, he eventually made a deal with Democrats, who funded the program in part through higher taxes on the wealthy. But for Bush’s reelection prospects in 1992, the damage was done, perhaps best captured by his pathetic plea to voters, “Message: I care.”

Now with the Congressional GOP again following Bush the Elder’s formula on the $34 billion extension of jobless benefits, Democrats should make them an offer they can’t refuse. Democrats will pay for the 3 million desperate Americans whose unemployment checks will end this month by reinstating the expired estate tax on the rich. If Republicans still say no, they will be sending an unmistakable message about whose side they are really on.

In calling the Republicans’ bluff on unemployment benefits and the estate tax, the math is straight-forward. As Dean Baker noted:

“[The] argument the Republicans give is that these bills would add to the national debt. For example, the latest extension of unemployment benefits would have added $22 billion to the debt by the end of 2011.”

Conveniently, that’s about how much the estate tax would bring in to the U.S. Treasury. But thanks to the same GOP obstructionism, Republicans so far have chosen a one-year windfall for a handful of billionaires over millions of Americans in the throes of financial crisis.

How many estates would be affected by  reinstating the expired estate tax on the rich? About 30,000. Compared to about 14 million unemployed workers. People whose work made possible the wealth of those 30,000 estates. Let’s assume the best. Those wealthy folks probably didn’t work up much of a sweat, but their specialized skills and investments brought in yearly income than twenty times what the median American household brought in the same year. No matter how skilled those wealthy were, some median income or lower worker made the products or provided the services which made the wealthy wealthier. Who is actually suffering hardship. I saw a millionaire on one of the morning news programs complain they would have to sell their $8 million dollar house and move into a smaller $4 million dollar house. That is the kind of suffering that no one should have much sympathy for. It is the kind of suffering that Republicans are determined that no more millionaires have to withstand.

continued here.