Saturday, January 05, 2013

Lunatic Fringe Threatens Republicans Who Voted For Fiscal Cliff Deal

In a post yesterday this blog noted that the so-called GOP establishment is finally waking up to the reality that it created a Frankenstein monster when it cynically embraced the Christiofascists and later the Tea Party crowd and began electing these knuckle dragging Neanderthals and religious zealots to positions on city and county committees and caucuses.  That's right, these people were voted on out of expediency to maintain ranks rather than adjust party policies and principles to  attract a wider participation by sane individuals.  Indeed, I remember when the process began in the Virginia Beach City Committee before I resigned over the GOP's increased fusing of religion into the civil laws.  Ridding the GOP of this cancer will not be easy as is evidenced by an article that looks at Christofacist/Tea Party threats in the wake of the fiscal cliff vote earlier this week.  Here are highlights:  

Republicans in Congress who took the politically risky step of voting this week to raise taxes now find themselves trying to fend off potential primary challenges next year from angry conservatives.

These lawmakers wasted little time in attempting to deliver an explanation that would be acceptable to the tea party and the GOP's right flank, and, perhaps, insulate themselves from a re-election battle against a fellow Republican. They've started defending the vote as one that preserves tax cuts for most Americans, while promising to fight for spending cuts in upcoming legislative debates over raising the nation's borrowing limit.

It was the first time in two decades that a significant number of Republicans voted for a tax increase; 33 Senate Republicans did so and 85 House members who broke with their GOP majority to support the bill that avoided the nation going over the so-called fiscal cliff but that also raises taxes on upper incomes.

"The ones that voted for it, I think they will rue the day," Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby proclaimed after opposing the bill. And Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, put it this way: "It's not too early to be looking at 2014. I think there are going to be a lot of primary challenges. People are fed up."

Most if not all of these Republicans who voted to raise taxes are likely mindful of their party's recent history of nasty primary battles that have pitted incumbents against tea party-backed insurgents. And none of them is likely to be immune to the scrutiny - rising stars, powerful committee chairmen and Republicans in reliably Republican seats - expected to confront them when they return to their districts to stand for re-election in November 2014.

The party got some cover from Grover Norquist, a leading anti-tax figure who described the bill, which preserved a series of tax cuts for most incomes, as "clearly a tax cut."  Even so, the tea party wasn't on board. Neither were many of the party's most conservative lawmakers in Washington.  "It's a really tough vote. And it's a really tough vote to explain to Republicans," Michigan Republican consultant Stu Sandler said.

Lawmakers who could be vulnerable to a challenge include Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek and South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, who bucked her tea party base and backed the bill, calling it "damage control."   "This makes her vulnerable and there will be discussion that she should have a primary challenge," former South Dakota Republican chairman Joel Rosenthal said. "Whether it materializes depends on votes down the road."

Rep. Steve Womack, in just his second term representing heavily conservative northwest Arkansas, could be forced to answer to tea party concerns over his yes vote if he seeks a third term. And he will almost certainly face questions about it should he run for U.S. Senate or governor, the subject of GOP speculation on which Womack has been silent.

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton's backing of the measure might rile up conservatives enough in his right-leaning district in the western part of the state that he could face a challenger. But his stature may be enough to prevent a serious one: he has easily fought off recent primary opponents and, as chairman of the Energy and Commerce commission, would likely have the fundraising edge.

Upton's Michigan colleague, Benishek, also voted for the bill and could have a bigger concern. He eked out re-election to a second term in November, carrying less than 50 percent of the vote in his northern district, and spurning tea party activists there could invite a threat from an opponent.

Among Senate Republicans, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia backed the measure and may have further agitated conservatives who were already cranky with him over his participation last year in the so-called "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group that discussed fiscal plans including tax increases and changes to entitlement programs.

What ought to frighten sane Americans is the fact that the GOP extremist would rather have potentially damaged the nation's economy, sent the country back into recession and left millions of the unemployed literally out in the cold rather than raise taxes.  And sane Americans need to understand that it is those who most often wrap themselves in religious piety and feigned worship of the Gospel who are at the heart of these greed driven mean spirited elements of the GOP base.  They are horrible people plain and simply, not to mention total hypocrites who make the Biblical Pharisees pale in comparison. 

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