“Chicken crap” – The Republican Rallying Cry

by on December 4, 2010 · 16 comments

in Economy, Health, Labor, Organizing, War and Peace

John Boehner

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income. It appears that the Democrats in their last days as the majority party managed to find their spine, rejecting the Republican demand to extend the tax cuts for the rich. John Boehner, the official mascot for Orangina and next Speaker of the House, declared that the House vote was “chicken crap.”

There was a time when I would have been ecstatic about this vote. The Democrats are providing relief to the beleaguered middle class and poor while addressing the budget deficit. If I am much less than ecstatic at this moment, it is because I have seen what happens to legislation once it gets ground up, obstructed, or spit out in some unrecognizable form in the Senate. Remember health care? Climate change? Equal pay for equal work? Don’t ask, don’t tell?

Yes, chicken manure is a viable source of energy. The folks in the Netherlands know this, apparently, as they're planning to power 90,000 homes with pure chicken excrement. A new 150 million euro plan will convert about 440,000 tons of chicken poo into about 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. It's a pretty great system, as it both provides energy and gets rid of disgusting chicken waste at the same time. So how about it? Want to get your home on the chicken crap energy plan?

The Republican reflexive use of the filibuster and the application of secret holds on legislation are acts of sabotage against the American people, our government and democracy. While this may be shocking, it no longer comes as a surprise. I am surprised however at the fecklessness of too many of the Senate Democrats. I am dismayed that President Obama is so willing to squander his power and undermine our principles.

The Senate is supposed to vote today, Saturday December 4 on the tax cuts. There have been mutterings that the deal has already been cut between the Republicans and Democrats with the blessing of Obama. Tax cuts will be extended to all income brackets, including the very richest among us for 3 or 10 more years, which will increase the federal deficit. Unemployment insurance will theoretically be extended as the quid pro quo. So yes, it is cheap political theater.

Here we are a mere few weeks away from a new Congress, and the metaphor of the moment is “chicken crap.” Earlier this year Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi wrote a muscular memorable take down of Wall Street.

“The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

I am going to take liberties with Taibbi’s quote. Our political process is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of the citizens, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. That’s not chicken crap.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace December 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

As a postscript: The Senate rejected efforts to extend tax cuts to the middle class. Republican Spokesman Foghorn Leghorn explains how two half nothings is a whole nothing.



avatar RB December 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Finally, the country can start to move forward with a President who will compromise.
Rather than follow Herbert Hoover’s policies and the voices on the left who want to increase taxes during a recession and rather than following the insensitive right who would withhold benefits in a time of need to those out of work, the President and his staff are working on a compromise. Let’s hope the President continues to reject the voices of NO COMPROMISE on both the right and the left. If we are lucky, we may end up with Clinton type president and a country with a better economy, less debt and a better future for our children.


avatar Gobnait December 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Compromise is not an end in itself. The rich do not spend their extra “expendable” income; the poor do. Nor do they “create more jobs” as the Repub mantra goes. They have had plenty of time and opportunity over the last 10 years since their taxes were cut to “invest in new jobs.” How many jobs did Bush create with the extra $187,000 he saved each year while squandering the Clinton surplus? Check out marginal propensity to consume curves. Companies are not hiring extra workers nor investing in expansion at the moment IN THE US because the customers for the products are fewer and fewer. America is rapidly becoming a third world country unable to purchase even the paltry few products we still produce here.


avatar Shane Finneran December 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

Check the latest NYT column from Paul Krugman… he says that the Democrats — if they really wanted to advance their agenda — would be better off letting all the tax cuts expire than none. And Krugman is absolutely right. Higher taxes on everyone would bring some short-term pain, but failing to raise taxes just means more austerity in the long run.

Krugman also continues to call out “compromise” for the con job that it is. Personally that word now makes me ill, as does the word “bipartisanship” — those words are the new “Let them eat cake.”


avatar Frank Gormlie December 6, 2010 at 9:25 am

Yeah, can’t help but agree with you Shane. It’s pretty depressing watching the President abandon core campaign promises and political stances. Compromise, compromise, compromise – that’s all that seems to matter. I do see what he is trying to do, connect the funds for the 2 million people whose unemployment is about to run out with the tax benefits for the rich. But still my guts churn, and I wish for the old Barack – the one who make all those campaign promises.


avatar RB December 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

Paul Krugman, the big backer of the failed, pork layered stimulus program, has a plan for austerity through higher taxes? Does Justin Bieber have a plan for introducing classical music into the schools? Is Charlie Rangel going to be the next spokesman for H&R Block? Will Michael Vick have the next winner at Westminster? The last person we should listen to is Krugman.

Krugman and his followers Summers and Romer have been responsible for the program of wasteful spending without economic activity for the last two years. Let’s not follow failure again and raise taxes like Hoover. Let’s follow the successful programs of Kennedy and other presidents that cut taxes to stimulate the economy. The compromise position is to keep taxes were they are already set. The better position is to lower taxes.


avatar Shane Finneran December 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

RB, you say Krugman supported the stimulus program, but that’s not accurate. Krugman has always said the stimulus programs were too small and their results would be underwhelming. At the same time, Krugman has also noted that no stimulus at all would have resulted in more lost jobs and more economic contraction.

You say the solution is lowering taxes. How far down do you think they should go? Tax-cut enthusiasts never seem to be able to answer that one. It’s like the ultimate goal is zero, revealing the philosophy to be a farce.


avatar annagrace December 6, 2010 at 10:56 am

I agree with you completely on this comment Shane. And I agree with you about the need to call out people whose mantra is always “lower taxes” (or get rid of the minimum wage or slash public pension benefits.) You are quite right- the ultimate goal is “zero.” And that’s a farce.


avatar RB December 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Actually the tax rate on profits of goods produced in the US but sold as exports should be zero. This would give our products a competitive advantage for sales as exports and create US jobs. US jobs that pay income taxes, sales tax, property taxes and Social Security. Also the three trillion dollars of profits held overseas now by companies could be brought home to stimulate the economy without the usual government waste.


avatar annagrace December 6, 2010 at 9:57 am

I don’t agree with Krugman on this one. The “short term pain” will be sustained by the middle class and working poor. When the cuts expire, their tax rate increases from 10 to 15%. We already know that the impact of the tax cuts on the highest wage earners is negligible. Wall Street, the banks and corporations have already received billions of dollars in tax relief and government subsidies. Keep in mind that when those cuts expire the child credit deduction will also be reduced from 1K per child to $500. That is a grim change for working class families. There will be a political backlash, and there should be one. It will not bode well for the Democrats.

The offset to extending tax relief to the middle class should come from the defense budget. Unemployment benefits should be extended. The offset should come from the defense budget. As it stands right now, the Republicans have set their sights on Social Security and Medicaid as the way of reducing the budget deficit. The wars and defense budget are disturbingly absent from the Democrat counter argument.


avatar Shane Finneran December 6, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’d argue that anyone making double the nation’s median income — that is, anyone making about $80,000 or more — is a good candidate for a tax hike. Not sure where the magic $250,000 limit came from, but in my opinion, it’s way too high.

As for unemployment, why does that have to be packaged with the tax cuts? Can’t it be voted on separately? And one more strategic question… can anyone tell me why the Democrats don’t accept the Republican challenge of filibuster? If Repubs want to stay up night after night to shelter millionaires and keep money out of unemployed peoples’ hands, let them do it. Call their bluff. Make them look that bad.

Or is it that the Democrats really don’t want to win on any of these issues? The way they operate really seems like they are playing to lose.


avatar annagrace December 6, 2010 at 11:15 am

1. Extending unemployment SHOULD be voted on separately. What we are seeing now is horse trading. It is not an uncommon Congressional strategy- sink one piece of necessary but controversial legislation into something that is certain to pass. This strategy of course can and has back fired.

2. The filibuster as it is used today is not the filibuster of yore, when it was necessary for the opposition to remain present in the chamber. Senator Strom Thurmond set a record in 1957 by filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes, by reading the phone book. It’s not like that anymore- there is a procedural filibuster in place with no requirement that the Senators must remain on the floor- everyone can go home for tea! It is up to the majority to find a super majority to attain cloture but without any attendant pressure on the minority to stand and deliver on their own position. Sen. Merkley has proposed changes to the filibuster at the beginning of the next congressional session:


avatar Shane Finneran December 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for that follow-up info, annagrace. I didn’t realize that filibustering no longer requires the reps to stay on the floor debating.

What a mess, the filibuster thing. So gracious of the Democrats not to use filibuster when they were in the majority. And so hard to believe that Democrats have been surprised by how aggressively the Republicans have used filibuster. I wish I was a Republican; would be nice to cheer for the side that actually tries to win.


avatar rak December 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm

The expiration of the middle class tax cuts is grim, but less grim than the prospect of blowing a $700 billion hole in the deficit over the next decade. I don’t mind paying taxes if I believe I’m getting something of value in return; stimulus (i.e. money pumped back into the economy), public services, public goods … And I would still agitate for lessening the general tax burden by transfering more from defense to social services.
The truly grim (and disgusting) aspect is that the Republicans are holding the tax cuts and unemployment benefits hostage. “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog”. Give me my tax breaks or your unemployment benefits are in the toilet. This is horse trading at its worst. I still can’t believe that the Republicans are not being held accountable. Why have the tax cuts for the middle class not been passed? Why have extensions to unemployment benefits not been passed? Because the Republican minority filibusters until $700 billion for the richest 2% is added to the deficit. Talk about fiscal responsibility!


avatar Name: Mark December 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Would Harry Truman have done this? I understand that there always, in the end, has to be a compromise, and that liberals are never, ever going to get all that they want. That’s the nature of politics. The problem is that Obama is not pulling out all the stops to get the most progressive final deal possible. He’s not out there on the stump giving the Republicans heat for their unpopular positions. I think that both Carter and Clinton, moderates though they were on domestic policy, would have fought harder for, and achieved, a more progressive final settlement had they been faced with a situation like this.


avatar tj December 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

Democrats could hav avoided this typical Republican pandering to the ultra-rich – if they had passed a middle-class tax cut extention months ago. But let’s face it – they’re only offering them up now because of the Nov election results ….

President Obama campaigned on a “middle-class tax cut” – but like most of his “promises” – it has been largely forgotten by him.


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