Wednesday, January 13, 2016

SC Gov. Nikki Haley’s 2016 GOP State of the Union Response

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was tapped by the Republican Party to deliver its response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address. Haley's message was clearly intended to convince voters seven years under the thumb of  a Democratic president has been seven years too many. Haley directed explicit criticisms of the president, saying:
Barack Obama's election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.

Unfortunately, the President's record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.

As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We're feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.
The South Carolina governor followed up her opening shot at Pres. Obama by savaging his foreign policy and highlighting Republican priorities on immigration, taxes, education, and the Second Amendment.

Haley's alternate state of the union was a clear attempt to disparage the Democrat in White House to reconstitute conservative governing ideology as good governance, as Republicans have done since Pres. Bush moved out of the White House.

During his State of the Union address last night, President Obama seemed eager to tout the nation’s economic gains. “The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” he said, before rattling off key statistics, including rapid job growth and the strength of the American auto industry. “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction,” the president added.
The Great Recession legacy Pres. George Bush and his Republican controlled congress left to the United States after eight years in office the nation's longest, and by most measures worst economic recession since the Great Depression between December 2007 and June 2009. The follow discussion reviews the course of the economy following that recession against the background of how deep a hole the recession created – and how much deeper that hole would have been without the financial stabilization and fiscal stimulus policies enacted by Pres. Obama in early 2009.

First, Haley's comment "We're feeling a crushing national debt" denies the fact that during the seven years Obama has been in office, the deficit as a percentage of GDP has dropped dramatically from the deficit he inherited for Pres G.W. Bush. The following table gives the years years 2009 through 2014, according to historical data maintained by the Office of Management and Budget, and the 2015 figure is the most recent estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, released in August 2015.
Fiscal year Deficit as a percentage of GDP
2009 9.8
2010 8.7
2011 8.5
2012 6.8
2013 4.1
2014 2.8
2015 2.4

According to this data, the deficit as a percentage of GDP has fallen by 76 percent
Our Republican friends are again trying to drive the narrative with pretend facts. While Democrats allow Republicans to control the political narrative, they will control Congress, the Senate and the Presidency, and re-implement the failed policies that led to the 2008 Great Recession.

To refute the Republican attempt to rewrite history - to reconstituted failed conservative governing ideology - lets look a few more graphs developed from the Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables - Fiscal Year 2015.

First let’s look at who added substantially to the budget deficit, while repeatedly cutting taxes for the wealthiest living in this country.

President Obama inherited a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion from President Bush's last budget year and annual budget deficits have gone down dramatically since. 

Extending the deficit picture back over administrations of the last six presidents preceding Pres. Obama, we see administrations of Democratic Presidents reduce large deficits created by the previous Republican president.
Next, let’s look at spending, the second attempt to rewrite history.

The numbers in the charts above are just the amounts the government spent and borrowed, period, Anyone can go look them up. People who claim that Obama "tripled the deficit" or increased it, or anything of the sort, are either misled or are trying to mislead.

And then, there is the repeated debt limit crisis rhetoric during Obama's seven years in office. The Republican Party demanded that the President negotiate over reducing the deficit built up during Pres. Bush's administration, in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling.

The 2011 debt limit crisis created by Republicans in congress sparked the most volatile week for financial markets since the 2008 market. The stock market trended significantly downward. Later that week Standard and Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States Government for the first time in our country’s history.  The Government Accounting Office estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling increased government borrowing costs by $1.3 billion in 2011. We also had a 16 day partial shutdown of government as a result of the crisis.

But why did Republicans suddenly get religion against raising the debt limit while Pres. Obama was in the White House, after Republicans repeatedly raised the debt limit whenever Pres. Bush ask Congress to raise that limit number. See the diagram.

Haley asserted: “Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today,” like unemployment.But it was Pres. Bush's aided but a Republican controlled congress that caused massive job losses by Bush's last year in the White House.   By the end of Pres. Bush's 8 year term of office in January 2009, the U.S. was on the brink of economic disaster as a result of the poor fiscal policy decisions and Wall Street banking industry deregulation under the Bush Administration.

The auto industry had to be rescued, Wall Street had to be bailed out, the Trickle Down did not work, and increasing numbers of working class Americans were out of a job and being foreclosed out of their homes. Republicans created those problems; Democrats had to over come those on-the-brink-of-disaster problems.

The pace of monthly job losses slowed dramatically soon after President Obama took office in January 2009 after Congress enacted Pres. Obama's Recovery Act in February 2009. That economic stimulus package was far small than Obama requested, but conservatives in Congress would allow only minimal stimulus spending - after spending like drunken sailors while repeated cutting taxes for the richest Americans during Pres, Bush's 8 years in office.

The stimulus did begin to kick in slowly but the trend in job growth in 2010 was obscured by the rapid ramp-up and subsequent decline in government hiring for the 2010 Census, but private employers have added 14.1 million jobs to their payrolls in the 70 months since February 2010, an average of 201,000 jobs a month.

Total employment (private plus government) has averaged 194,000 over that period, as federal, state, and especially local government were net job losers. In December, private employers added 275,000 jobs, federal government employment rose by 4,000, state government employment by 6,000, and local government employment by 7,000.

While job growth has returned since the 2008-09 great shedding of American jobs, it has in deed been a no-raises recovery. The chart below shows what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs - 8,50,000 every month - and it was getting worse and worse. After Pres Obama took office we stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better. The leveling off on the right side of the chart shows what happened under progressive policies of governance -  the nation moved from losing around 850,000 jobs a month to gaining over 200,000 jobs a month.

The upper one percent continued to see increases in their income while the rest of us saw little in the way of wage increases or wealth creation.

In deed, after repeated tax cuts for the wealthy and other structural changes made the American economic system while Republicans and conservative "moderate" Democrats controlled congress and the White House, middle class Americans are seeing wealth steadily decline.

In fact, the top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.

The economic boom on Wall Street and in corporate executive compensation have poured money into the pocketbooks of the already wealthy, but it has done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers. Meager improvements since 2009 have barely kept up with a similarly tepid pace of inflation, raising the real value of compensation per hour by only 0.5 percent.

That marks the weakest growth since World War II, with increases averaging 9.2 percent at a similar point in past expansions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg. Since 1979 the one percent saw a 138% increase in their wages while the rest of us saw a 15% increase in our wages. Republicans only give lip service to supporting the middle class.

While America may be creating jobs, it isn't creating many well paying jobs - and American workers are increasingly angry about their stagnate paycheck! This is a much more critical political issue than most in the Democratic Party's leadership ranks understand or are willing to address with meaningful policy ideas. It likely explains to large extent why Sen. Bernie Sander's campaign message on income inequality is increasingly gaining traction, as more voters hear his message.

More than half of Americans — 56 percent, to be exact — have less than $1,000 combined in their checking and savings accounts, according to a recent survey, Forbes reported. This is to say, most Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of Americans — 63 percent — do not have enough in their savings for an emergency. A substantial majority of Americans would need to borrow money if faced with an unexpected expense. Compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. now has grossly disproportionate poverty rates.

The U.S. may be the most powerful country in the world, economically and militarily speaking, but if this does not bring with it a high standard of living or ensure well-being - health care, education, living wage jobs, etc. - for citizens, it ultimately does not matter; it simply benefits the rich, and the rich alone.
GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump in his promise to "Make America Great Again" is likely tapping anger over their stagnate paychecks and voters translate his claim he will "make America great again" as he will recreate an America where workers can earn a living wage.

The "1989- 2015 Job Totals" graph above clearly shows American business create jobs when Democrats hold the White House and shed jobs while Republicans occupy the White House.
More False Republican Memes

The above are just the false things everyone commonly "knows" because conservative information outlets like Fox News repeat them over and over and over. Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is "going broke", tax cuts grow the economy, government spending "takes money out of the economy."

Actually This Reduced Spending And Lower Deficit Have Hurt The Economy

Government spending is literally, by definition, the things that government does to make our lives better. People have been tricked into thinking that government spending is somehow bad. The billionaires and giant corporations spread this nonsense around because they are greedy and just want their taxes lower. The top income tax rate used to be more than 90 percent and the top corporate tax rate used to be more than 50 percent. That was back when we built this country's great infrastructure, had good schools and defended the world against the Soviet Union. We also had higher economic growth and a growing middle class.

Government spending does not "take money out of the economy." In fact, it puts money into the economy, creates jobs and lays the foundation for future prosperity. The decline in government spending shown in the charts above is the reason that the economy remains sluggish and jobs are still hard to get. Just look at that chart showing what the stimulus spending did for the job situation. But since the stimulus ended, Republicans have obstructed every effort to continue to use our government to help our economy.

For example, this chart from The Atlantic, "The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Government," shows how government spending to create government jobs helped us get out of the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions. But since the 2007 "Great Recession," we instead have laid off hundreds of thousands of government employees, obviously making unemployment even worse.
This chart shows only the loss of government jobs. Never mind the job losses in the stores where all of these people were shopping. The Atlantic article says this, "EPI argues that "these extra government jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private sector jobs."

And never mind the millions of jobs lost or not created because of "austerity" cutbacks in government spending on things like maintaining (never mind modernizing) our infrastructure! And beyond that, what if we had spent some money (public investment) to retrofit every building and home in the country to be energy efficient, or built high-speed rail around the country? How many millions more would have been hired to do those things -- and how much would we be saving on energy and other costs from now on?

This chart from Roger Hickey's post, Continued Jobs Growth. But Highway Bill Shows Austerity Still Hurts., shows how "conservative budget cutting has undermined growth from mid-2010 through 2014":
"As you can see, the impact of austerity on the economy declined in the last two quarters of 2014, but the following budget was not expected to be expansionary - due to the mistaken conservative Republican theory that spending cuts somehow stimulate growth."
Family Budget?

Republicans like to say government is like a family budget -- when the money isn't coming in you have to cut back. That's just nonsense if you think about it. First of all, if we make the big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes again, the money would be coming in. And anyway, families do invest in a mortgage, student loans and car loans so they can have a place to live, a good education to get a better job, and a car to get to and from work.

So don't fall for the nonsense the big corporations and billionaires are spreading through their right-wing outlets. When you look a little deeper, that stuff just falls apart. A country needs to invest to create jobs and have a better future.

Why This Matters

These things really matter. We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has. But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them. Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse -- just as laying off government workers in a recession makes unemployment worse.

If we get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama -- tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want, when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place -- then we will be in real trouble.

All the problems Republicans complain about been caused by Republican governing policies.

Republicans have stubbornly imposed ultra-conservative governance ideology on the congressional legislative process to block President Obama's efforts to enact legislation that would allow American workers to share more of the wealth generated in the still recovering economy.
So when Gov. Haley says. "Unfortunately, the President's record has often fallen far short of his soaring words ... [while] many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels,"  she has only the Republican's documented goal to turn Pres. Obama into a failed president to blame.
Confronting the Reality of Republican Talking Points

On wealth inequality, polls find that “a strong majority” of U.S. citizens believe the current situation is an urgent problem (including one-half of Republicans and two-thirds of independents), and think the current income and wealth distribution is unfair.

Despite Republican fear-mongering about big government, Americans “favor taxing the wealthy to expand aid to the poor,” and want Congress to rectify this inequality by levying “heavy taxes on [the] rich” and increasing rates on people making over $1 million a year.

Americans also support steep progressive reform on Wall Street, with 50% to 58% of likely voters in favor of breaking up the big financial institutions.

Concerning the infusion of money in politics, Americans want campaign finance reform “with near unanimity,” and half would personally vote for a law establishing the government funding of federal campaigns. The support for reform is strong across party lines, with a prodigious 80% of Republicans, 84% of Independents, and 90% of Democrats believing money plays too large a role in the political process. Other polls show three in four Americans think there is too much money in politics and disagree with the concept of unregulated campaign finance.

Americans also support a substantial raise for low-wage workers, with 63% in favor of a $15 minimum wage by 2020, and 75% in favor of $12.50 by the same year. Other polls show that a majority of swing-state Republican voters support an increase, and 69% of working people favor an increase to $15. Concerning workers’ rights, a majority also want to improve scheduling for chain-store and fast-food restaurant employees.

On the power of money and big business in general, 75% of Americans think large corporations have too much influence in the country. With top CEOs making 373 times what their workers do, Americans think the government should take action to narrow the gap: one-third of Republicans want to cap the income of corporate executives, and 59% of Americans support government restriction of CEO pay.

Likewise, there is very strong support for universal health care. Just over 50% of Americans support a single-payer system, and 65% of voters think every American should have access to quality healthcare. Most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have care, and put more faith in the government’s ability to hold down health-care costs than the private sector’s. 58% of Americans support a Medicare-for-all system, and a majority of Americans think the government should ensure coverage. A majority of voters in Republican states support Medicaid expansion as well, as do 56% of Virginians, including 55% of Republicans. A majority of Americans also support Social Security, with 65% of Americans in favor of its expansion.

The Rest of Gov. Haley's Speech

While Haley asserted: “Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today,” she also said: “There is more than enough blame to go around. We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.” It was a message that acknowledged that the American public is frustrated and fed up with career politicians and has lost trust in Congress. To some extent, that sentiment mirrored the way the president described his own frustration with the political status quo, and echoed his calls, implicitly aimed at Democrats and Republicans, to “change the system” to create “a better politics.”

Gov. Haley also took GOP presidential candidates to the woodshed saying, “during anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.” Haley confirmed to NBC News Wednesday morning: “Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I believe is irresponsible talk.”

Haley has come under withering criticism from right-wing conservatives displeased with Haley for "piling-on the GOP candidates," after President Obama devoted significant portions of his final address chastising the brand of racism and xenophobia practices by Trump and other GOP candidates. Conservatives voices like commentator Ann Coulter’s demanded Haley, the GOP daughter of Indian immigrants, be deported.

Coulter, who dismissed Haley’s move to remove the confederate flag from the capitol state grounds last summer, arguing that “she’s an immigrant and does not understand America’s history,” continued her attacks on the Republican governor and her heritage after Haley aimed significant portions of her response speech at criticizing growing anti-immigrant sentiments within the GOP base.

Transcript of Nikki Haley's Republican response to the 2016 State of the Union address. As prepared for delivery.

Good evening.

I'm Nikki Haley, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.

I'm speaking tonight from Columbia, our state's capital city. Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.

In just a minute, I'm going to talk about a vision of a brighter American future. But first I want to say a few words about President Obama, who just gave his final State of the Union address.

Barack Obama's election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.

Unfortunately, the President's record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.

As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We're feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.

Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it.

Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight.

At the outset, I'll say this: you've paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you're not naive.

Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.

A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn't serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again. A frustration with promises made and never kept.

We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.

We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America's leadership. We need to accept that we've played a role in how and why our government is broken.

And then we need to fix it.

The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn't gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.

For me, that starts right where it always has: I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.

Growing up in the rural south, my family didn't look like our neighbors, and we didn't have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.

My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.

Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can't do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America's noblest legacies.

This past summer, South Carolina was dealt a tragic blow. On an otherwise ordinary Wednesday evening in June, at the historic Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, twelve faithful men and women, young and old, went to Bible study.

That night, someone new joined them. He didn't look like them, didn't act like them, didn't sound like them. They didn't throw him out. They didn't call the police. Instead, they pulled up a chair and prayed with him. For an hour.

We lost nine incredible souls that night.

What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about.

Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn't have violence, we had vigils. We didn't have riots, we had hugs.

We didn't turn against each other's race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.

We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.

There's an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there's a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.

Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.

Of course that doesn't mean we won't have strong disagreements. We will. And as we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs.

If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we'd put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.

We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.

We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.

We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.

We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.

We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.

We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.

And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.

We have big decisions to make. Our country is being tested.

But we've been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.

Our forefathers paved the way for us.

Let's take their values, and their strengths, and rededicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes to keep America the greatest country in the history of man. And woman.

Thank you, good night, and God bless.

No comments:

Post a Comment