“There is a penalty to be paid from what the beatniks, and it morphed into the hippies you say, what do you call the 110 million with the sexually transmitted illness – it is the revenge of the hippies! Sex, drugs and rock ’n roll have come back to haunt us in a bad way.” Does this make any sense? Of course not! Welcome to CPAC 2015!
The above quote was from Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s acceptance speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, also known as the gathering of the political juggalos.
The reality star was in attendance to receive the 2015 Citizens United (yes, that Citizens United) Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award.
You may recall Robertson faced a very public backlash from his negative views on homosexuality (and questionable perspective on race) originating from a 2014 interview with GQ. It comes as no surprise that Robertson’s public health warning concluded as an anti-gay speech.
“You want a godly, biblical, medically safe option? One man, one woman, married for life.”
Robertson’s political sermon was nearly a half hour of speaking time, which is more than any of the individuals who are considering running for president received.
Speaking of which, the first major speaking engagement for this year was former neurosurgeon (and frequent CPAC’er) Dr. Ben Carson.
When asked point blank in January by 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley what the Republican healthcare alternative to Obamacare is, House Speaker John Boehner responded: “We’re working on this. Having discussions amongst our members.” The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. March 23rd will be the fifth anniversary of the law that the GOP has attempted to repeal over fifty times, and they have yet to develop a replacement system in all of these years. Ben Carson has done what the Republican leadership seemingly can not.
Carson proudly advocated for a “health savings account system” to replace Obamacare on Friday. Although he didn’t share details of the plan itself on stage, he had previously explained his proposal during an interview with Politico last year.
“The only responsibility of the government would be providing $2,000 per year for every American citizen – around $630 billion annually, about 20 percent of what we currently spend on healthcare – to provide everyone with a health savings account.” If you were expecting a truly shit idea, the good doctor does not disappoint.
Timothy Jost, professor of Law at Washington and Lee University, responded to Carson’s health plan:
“For a person who has serious health problems or for a person who has a low income, a $2,000 health care savings account is worthless, or near worthless.”
Identifying herself as a “lukewarm fan” of the Affordable Care Act, Carolyn Engelhard, Assistant professor of public health sciences and director of the Health Policy Program at the University of Virginia explained:
“If someone is low-income but has a lot of medical bills, they are going to have more out of pocket costs than someone who, say, makes $100,000 and is healthy. It is a blunt instrument, it does reduce unnecessary care, but the bad thing is that if the $2,000 is exceeded and your deductible is $6,000, you may not have that extra $4,000 that is needed and go without needed healthcare.”
How does Carson intend to pay for such a system? “There are a variety of different ways to pay for it.” Well, at least he wasn’t vague about it.
Obamacare was a huge topic at CPAC again this year, but nobody has made it a Braveheart-worthy battle cry more than Ted Cruz.
“Obamacare is a disaster. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have lost their healthcare, lost their doctor.”
Cruz is still misrepresenting a 2014 Congressional Budget Office report that anticipated millions of workers would retire or simply have the financial security to quit their jobs now that their healthcare is no longer directly tied to their employment, due to the ACA.
2.6 million lost their health insurance plans once the ACA became law. However, many of those same people could find a more affordable alternative on the ACA exchanges. One thing you can be certain Cruz won’t mention are the over 9 million American citizens who have gained health insurance under the law.
The Texas Senator was also sure to rattle the CPAC cages of colonial cosplayers when he mentioned the term “executive amnesty” throughout his roughly thirteen-minute speech. Of course, the President never granted amnesty through his executive actions, but why let facts stop Ted now?
What never seems to go out of style with Tea Party politicians is questioning the President’s stance or practice of the Christian religion. Cruz used the recent turmoil in the middle east involving ISIL for his latest juvenile attack.
“When 21 Coptic Christians are beheaded, we see the President saying they were simply Egyptian citizens.”
Of course, Cruz is wrong. In an op-ed for the L.A. Times the President wrote:
“In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians.”
I understand the L.A. Times is not Dr. Suess, so it may be above Cruz’s reading level.
In a new addition to the CPAC format, Fox News’ Sean Hannity runs out like a game show host at the end of Cruz’s speech to interview him with Twitter/Facebook questions. One of those is a doozy.
Cruz is asked what would be his “top five agenda items” of his presidency. Cruz does not falter when answering:
- “Repeal every blasted word of Obamacare.” Spoken like a true Spider-Man villain.
- “Abolish the IRS.”
- “Stop the out-of-control regulators at the EPA and the alphabet soup of Washington.”
- “Defend our constitutional rights – all of them.”
- “Restore America’s leadership.”
In Cruz’s mind, a vague, patriotic-like sound bite in the number five slot is apparently more worthy than jobs, debt, climate change or income inequality.
The next potential presidential candidate to speak after Cruz was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker made headlines earlier this year when he sat quietly during a dinner event while former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani proclaimed the current President does not “love America” and that Obama “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up.”
The event was reminiscent of a 2011 Republican presidential debate when members of the audience shouted boos to a gay soldier. Not a single candidate denounced the reactions from the stage. Walker’s silence last month proved he was just as spineless.
“Now up the way there in Washington, we have a President who measures success in government by how many people are dependent on the government. We should measure success by just the opposite; by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”
Last year, President Obama supported a federal minimum wage increase of $10.10. A study by University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Arindralit Dube found that such an increase would lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty.
Walker doesn’t even support a minimum wage increase in his own state.
“You see, here in America there’s a reason why we celebrate the Fourth of July and not April fifteenth, because in America we celebrate our independence from the government not our dependence on it.” Wait, what?
It’s actually our independence from Great Britain.
This is a man who opened his speech proclaiming: “I loved reading about our founders. To me they were like superheroes, bigger than life.”
Recently, Senator Rand Paul has shown support for policies I do support, such as restoring the right to vote in federal elections to nonviolent felons. Like his father, it is just a matter of time before he says something outlandish to fuck it all up.
“Our freedom is at risk from a Supreme Court that fails to protect liberty. In the mistake of the century, Justice Roberts affirmed the power of the government to force you to buy insurance.”
Yet this guy sees 9 million plus American citizens having healthcare as the “mistake of the century.”
Paul tackles the subject of taxation, reacting to the President’s most recent proposal during the State of the Union:
“The President’s answers to raise taxes again. I believe we should do the opposite. I propose we cut everyone’s taxes, from the richest to the poorest.”
Yes, Paul’s belief is the George W. Bush tax cut plan.
The Kentucky Senator proposed a new plan that would be the “largest tax cut in history,” cut spending and balance the budget in five years. However, he didn’t explain HOW this plan would work (they always leave that part out).
When speaking of the future Paul references needing a “simple, fair tax system.”
In the past, Paul has favored a fair tax and a flat tax… both of which are terrible policies for lower and middle class earners.
In 2010, Paul said: “I would vote for the Fair Tax to get rid of the Sixteenth Amendment, the IRS and a lot of the control the federal government exerts over us.”
George W. Bush’s Advisory panel of Federal Tax Reform wrote in regards to a Fair tax policy:
“Replacing the current income tax with a stand-alone retail sales tax would increase the tax burden on the lower 80 percent of American families, as ranked by cash income, by approximately $250 billion per year.”
Sen. Paul was CPAC 2015’s straw poll winner… again. Paul has tied with former President Reagan to win the poll three times in a row. Of 21 polls, only three winners (Reagan, Bush 43 and Romney) have gone on to win the Republican presidential nomination. So, I wouldn’t start scouting a site for the Rand Paul presidential library yet… or ever.
CPAC is now nothing more than a public display of the twisted mindset that has infected the GOP.
When discussing the latest GOP hostage crisis to withhold funding for Homeland Security, Republican Representative of New York Peter King said:
“This madness has to end soon… I’ve had it with this self-righteous, delusional wing of the party.”
You’re not alone, buddy.