Ever talk to a teabagger? I did-- lots of them. They're overwhelmingly racists and overwhelmingly angry and overwhelmingly... brainwashed. Few teabaggers seem capable of critical thought-- just the way conservatives want the people to be. As we mentioned this morning, over-fed, angry white teabaggers in DC yesterday were running wild, threatening gun violence, and yelling racial and homophobic epithets at Members of Congress they don't agree with on healthcare reform.
I spoke to several House staffers yesterday and today who told me crazed, frothing teabaggers were running around House office buildings screaming and banging on doors, working themselves into a frenzy. Lunatic fringe right-wing blogger Ann Althouse reacted to the vicious racist and homophobic attacks on members by saying "So what?" The White House is working overtime to debunk the lies being willfully spread by ratings-motivated right-wing propagandists to receptive modern day Know Nothings. It's hardly new that conservatives use divisive strategies to divide working people. Racism has always been key to them and Right Wing Watch doesn't mince any words in exposing them:
Right-wing pundits and political leaders committed to the destruction of the Obama presidency have been openly fomenting racial resentment or tolerating those who do. In one breath, they accuse President Obama of being racist and in the next they and their media allies howl with indignation if their own racial rhetoric is challenged. Among their charges: that President Obama hates "white culture" and that his health care reform efforts are a backdoor means to reparations for slavery that will "enslave" doctors and put the "racial grievance industry" in charge of emergency rooms.
Race-baiting pundits try to insulate themselves by falsely claiming that liberals play the "race card" to equate any criticism of the Obama administration with racism. In fact, this charge is itself an example of inflaming racial resentments for political gain. In other words, crying "You can't even criticize Obama without being called a racist" is just one more way to suggest that white conservatives are being oppressed.
MYTH #1: Health insurance reform is a "government takeover."
FACT: The health insurance reform legislation expands private health insurance in America, and is based on increasing choice and competition-- providing for new marketplaces (called "Insurance Exchanges") where the uninsured, small business employees, and the self-employed will be able to choose among a variety of private insurance plans.
MYTH #2: Health insurance reform slashes Medicare and hurts seniors.
FACT: Nothing in the health insurance reform reduces Medicare benefits for seniors. The reform achieves savings by cracking down on inefficiency, fraud and waste in Medicare-- targeted at private insurance companies and providers, not beneficiaries. These savings include cutting large and unnecessary overpayments to private insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans.
Rather than undermining Medicare, this bill strengthens Medicare. Much of the cost savings achieved are reinvested into Medicare-- improving benefits. In fact, the legislation lowers prescription drug costs for seniors by closing the prescription drug donut hole, ensures free preventive care, and extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by nine years.
MYTH #3: Health insurance reform will cost businesses too much.
FACT: The status quo is unsustainable for the small business community-- 60 percent of America's uninsured, or 28 million people-- are small business owners, workers, and their families. Insurance costs for small businesses have increased 129% since 2000.
The health insurance reform legislation before Congress provides $40 billion in tax credits for small businesses to help them offer coverage to their employees and exempts 96 percent of all businesses from the shared responsibility requirement.
MYTH #4: Health insurance reform is bad for the economy.
FACT: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the legislation will dramatically reduce the deficit-- by $143 billion in the first 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the second ten years-- reins in costs for most Americans, and is fully paid for.
MYTH #5: Health insurance reform includes a marriage penalty which will mean higher costs for those who get married.
FACT: This myth has nothing to do with health insurance reform-- it is a new criticism of how the federal poverty level has been calculated for decades-- under Republican and Democratic leadership alike.
Under all federal income-related assistance programs, total assistance provided to two single people is greater than the total assistance provided to a married couple for the simple fact that two people living together have lower expenses than two people living separately. (And the federal government assumes that single people are living separately and a married couple is living together.) It is considered good stewardship of tax dollars to reflect actual costs.
Other Republicans are actually claiming that the teabaggers-- basically a media construct for the Republican grassroots-- were not actually the ones who cursed and spat on African-American congressmen and at Barney Frank (who they called a "faggot"). Watch this:
This morning I spoke with Barney on the phone. He seemed to take the cursing and threats in stride although he felt badly for others who were having to experience this. A friend of Barney's who was with him told him the teabaggers seemed like the witch hunters of yore, all worked up over nonsense and ready to commit mayhem in the service of that insanity. "Of course," Barney told me emphatically, "we should have a rational debate on the issues-- and there are critiques of this legislation from the left and from the right, pro and con. But the conservative leadership seem to prefer this kind of exploitation of bigotry, hatred and personal abuse and none of them are repudiating these ugly mob tactics."
He suspects that some of them-- he pointed out Michele Bachmann and Steve King-- actually stir it up. "Any movement in which Steve King and Michele Bachmann are among the leaders is probably not going to meet high standards for civility or coherence," he told Roll Call. King, meanwhile was commiserating with Glenn Beck that the healthcare vote today is an affront to God. Texas anti-gay fanatic John Culberson, who closeted Republican David Dreier introduced today as "soft spoken," defending the bigots that make up the GOP grassroots by claiming they are polite and respectful. And King says the kinds of personal attacks on Members is no big deal. Dick Armey, one of the major financiers of the teabaggers once called Barney a "fag" on the House floor, so it's no wonder his followers think it's perfectly appropriate behavior. Unlike Bachmann or King, Armey apologized, albeit insincerely.
Of course, there isn't one single African-American federal elected official anywhere in America but we haven't been able to get a comment out of any of the dozen or so prominent Republican closet queens. We tried Patrick McHenry (R-NC), David Dreier (R-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) but couldn't get them to discuss what they think of their colleagues inciting mobs of racists and homophobic bigots. If you disagree with Steve King and think it is a big deal, take a look at the Replacing Homophobes In Congress ActBlue page and see if you can give a hand to helping Democratic challengers to anti-gay zealots Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Michele Bachmann, Wally Herger and Dan Lungren.
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