E.J. Dionne calls the right-wing takeover of America a stealthy coup, which is what a lot of us have been saying for years. It has been a slow motion coup. I had hope that the elections of 2006 and 2008 were the beginning of a turn-around. However, last week’s shocking performance by the Supreme Court tells us that SCOTUS has effectively been taken over.
Last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on health care were the most dramatic example of how radical tea partyism has displaced mainstream conservative thinking. It’s not just that the law’s individual mandate was, until very recently, a conservative idea. Even conservative legal analysts were insisting it was impossible to imagine the court declaring the health-care mandate unconstitutional, given its past decisions.
So imagine the shock when conservative justices repeatedly spouted views closely resembling the tweets and talking points issued by organizations of the sort funded by the Koch brothers. Don’t take it from me. Charles Fried, solicitor general for Ronald Reagan, told The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein that it was absurd for conservatives to pretend that the mandate created a market in health care. “The whole thing is just a canard that’s been invented by the tea party .?.?.,” Fried said, “and I was astonished to hear it coming out of the mouths of the people on that bench.”
The big bad event of last week was, of course, the Supreme Court hearing on health reform. In the course of that hearing it became clear that several of the justices, and possibly a majority, are political creatures pure and simple, willing to embrace any argument, no matter how absurd, that serves the interests of Team Republican.
Krugman goes on to explain why the budget passed by the House last week is a fraud. Not just a bad budget or a stupid budget, but a fraud.
Mr. Ryan talks loudly about the evils of debt and deficits, but his plan would actually make the deficit bigger even as it inflicted huge pain in the name of deficit reduction. But is his budget really the most fraudulent in American history? Yes, it is.
To be sure, we’ve had irresponsible and/or deceptive budgets in the past. Ronald Reagan’s budgets relied on voodoo, on the claim that cutting taxes on the rich would somehow lead to an explosion of economic growth. George W. Bush’s budget officials liked to play bait and switch, low-balling the cost of tax cuts by pretending that they were only temporary, then demanding that they be made permanent. But has any major political figure ever premised his entire fiscal platform not just on totally implausible spending projections but on claims that he has a secret plan to raise trillions of dollars in revenue, a plan that he refuses to share with the public?
I plan to write more about this as the week goes on, but apparently they’ve been pulling a “fast and loose” scam by showing the public, and the Congressional Budget Office, Ryan’s budget without the tax cuts.
Going back to Dionne, who wrote (among other things) that last week the House teabaggers forced a vote on the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, except with the tax increase recommendations cut in half. That last part you weren’t likely to learn from news stories.
Note how many deficit hawks regularly trash President Obama for not endorsing Simpson-Bowles while they continue to praise Ryan — even though Ryan voted to kill the initiative when he was a member of the commission. Here again is the double standard that benefits conservatives, proving that, contrary to establishment opinion, Obama was absolutely right not to embrace the Simpson-Bowles framework. If he had, a moderately conservative proposal would suddenly have defined the “left wing” of the debate, just because Obama endorsed it.
This is nuts. Yet mainstream journalism and mainstream moderates play right along.
And to get a little closer to the bottom of this — read “How Billionaires Destroy Democracy.”
If SCOTUS really does nix the entire ACA — and I keep reading there is little hope that they won’t — we may be coming to the time when the mechanisms of representative government are too compromised to stop the coup.