Sunday, May 19, 2013

Exploiting As Fast As He Can

Two days ago, the increasingly loathsome Marco Rubio told Martha McCallum of Fox News

Look, the president doesn’t have clean hands in this, because as I said yesterday on the floor of the Senate, this organization of his, this administration has created a culture of intimidation. It's his campaign, it's this White House, it’s basically an attempt to muscle anyone who is their political opponent and to use whatever power they have at their disposal to intimidate people that they don’t agree with.

President Obama's "attempt to muscle anyone who is their political opponent" apparently did not extend to then-Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, whose vote for the Affordable Care Act the President begged for in vain.   Obama assured her

"You could be a modern day Joan of Arc," he offered. I laughed and replied, "Yes, but she was burned at the stake!" I added, "I don't mind taking the heat, but I have to believe it's the right policy for America." The President responded, "Don't worry, I'll be there with a fire hose."

The president met with the Senator eight times in person and several times otherwise, and Snowe has written

Throughout the health reform debate, the President worked with me in good faith, and I believed he was doing so now. By this point, however, I realized that the legislation had essentially been pre-ordained. ... "Mr. President," I responded, "I sincerely appreciate your offer. But if I couldn't secure changes in the bill now, it's not going to happen when I'm the only Republican on that conference with all the Democratic leaders."

Senator Rubio claimed also

So, whether it’s the Associated Press, whether it’s witnesses at the State Department, or whether it’s using the IRS to go after groups that don’t agree with the Obama agenda, this is an administration that has created a culture of intimidation through its campaign and through the White House throughout the federal government.

The thoroughly hyped IRS scandal, however, is not about "using the IRS to go after groups that don't agree with the Obama agenda."  Brad Friedman notes

While Steven Miller, the now-fired Acting IRS Commissioner (it was a George W. Bush appointee who left last year who actually headed the agency during the period in question) "conceded that 'foolish' mistakes were made by people trying to be more 'efficient'," the Guardian reports, adding: "No new major details about the scandal emerged" during hearings which they describe as having "fizzled".

"I do not believe partisanship motivated the people involved in the practices described," Miller testified. "I think what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selections." He explained that the IRS had received some 70,000 applications for tax-exempt status, but that they have just 150 staffers assigned to process them all.

The Florida Senator isn't the least bit concerned about the Administration's efforts to discourage sources from cooperating with the Associated Press.  And the IRS fiasco is being exploited by Rubio and his fellow travelers as red meat for the GOP popular base.   But Rubio's real interest is in assuring the Repub donor base that he's in their corner.  He continued

...This is an organization in the Obama campaign and in the Obama White House that has created a culture of intimidation. Of hardball tactics against their political opponents. It’s not just the IRS. It’s the NLRB, who went after Boeing for moving their facility from Washington to South Carolina. And there will be other cases like this that we’ll be talking about in the days to come.

Out of the blue, the Senator complains about "the NLRB, who went after Boeing."  It's  those worthless workers duped by the nefarious unions, at least to Rubio, who is leading the GOP effort to increase the number of individuals in the workforce and drive down labor rates.  (Yes, that's a major objective of comprehensive immigration "reform.")    Taking on the IRS diverts attention from immigration reform, which could cause him trouble with the Repub popular base, while attacking the National Labor Relations Board sends an important signal to the corporate powerhouse that finances his party, including its presidential candidates.

Eventually, the NLRB dropped its complaint against Boeing upon a request by the union, which signed an agreement in which the company agreed to build a revamped 737 jet at a factory near Seattle, hence preserving many jobs. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress explained a year-and-a-half ago

Ever since the NLRB first filed the complaint, the GOP has mischaracterized it as having something to do with so-called “right-to-work” states, states where workers are allowed to free-ride on union contracts. However, the actual complaint was about whether or not Boeing moved a production line from Washington to South Carolina in retaliation against workers for striking.

It is illegal to shift production in order to retaliate against workers, and Boeing executives, on-tape, pretty clearly said that their motive for moving to South Carolina was to do just that. As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “there is ample precedent for the argument that threatening to move facilities because of strikes is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. And certainly the NLRB might reasonably have taken a Boeing executive at his word when he told the Seattle Times (on video!) that this was precisely what motivated the relocation.”

Rubio, the leading prospect for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, recently introduced a bill which, he maintains, would require the IRS to fire any employee found “willfully” violating “the constitutional rights of a taxpayer," a notion which sounds innocuous but which  is breathtakingly dangerous.   In his irresponsible approach to the IRS blunder, he is betting that a clever, though ungenerous, Republican, H.L. Mencken, was right when he stated "no one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."   He is praying, additionally, that Mencken was prescient when he continued "nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."

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