Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 17, 2011

WHEN THE GOP'S 'ARMIES OF COMPASSION' ARE SENT PACKING.... In a column on the Republican budget plan this week, E.J. Dionne Jr. highlighted the new GOP approach to national service.

A telling example: The party that purports to love community and church-based efforts to help the poor and downtrodden even zeroed out AmeriCorps, the national service program that has long enjoyed support across party lines. AmeriCorps, remember, gives out small grants that leverage an enormous amount of voluntary work for the groups George W. Bush used to praise as "the armies of compassion."

But even those unrealistic cuts were not unrealistic enough for the GOP's highly caffeinated Tea Party wing.

To be specific, how much of the AmeriCorps budget do House Republicans want to cut? All of it. Literally, 100%.

As the debate on this advances, it's worth emphasizing the fact that the House GOP's crusade against national service is at odds with the positions of nearly all of the party's likely presidential candidates.

* Mitt Romney has embraced national service programs, even as a presidential candidate, and as a governor in 2004, he rallied Republican governors to support AmeriCorps in the face of cuts from congressional Republicans.

* Mike Huckabee has offered strong support for national service and as a presidential candidate, described AmeriCorps as a "very good" program.

* Tim Pawlenty not only supported national service programs as governor, he distanced himself from Rep. Michele Bachmann, a fellow Minnesotan, when she accused AmeriCorps of having an "indoctrination" component.

* Sarah Palin may not have been a governor very long, but before joining the national GOP ticket, she praised the work of AmeriCorps volunteers: "These contributions are essential to the state's economic and social well-being."

* Mitch Daniels created his own national service program called "Mitch's Kids," and also praised AmeriCorps for "promoting an ethic of service and volunteering."

* Rick Santorum originally bashed AmeriCorps, but changed his mind, and joined a bipartisan effort to preserve funding for the program in 1999.

* Haley Barbour has not only praised AmeriCorps in general, he was especially grateful for program volunteers helping his state in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: "We welcome these outstanding, civic-minded young men and women, and know they will offer tremendous service to people in our region."

I'm curious, do all of these GOP leaders support the efforts of congressional Republicans to simply scrap AmeriCorps funding altogether?

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

Yes.

All spending for poor people must be cut. Or the rich might start offshoring all the jobs.

Posted by: walt on February 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, the GOP is really coming apart at the seams. Between what's happening in Wisconsin and Boehner's total ineptitude, voters next year won't be happy about the Republican's plans to hurt as many people as possible in the pursuit of a handful of Tea Party votes.

Posted by: puravida on February 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

One of two outcomes. They will turn as soon as they get the memo. Or, this is just a bargaining tool.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on February 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

And the answer is - if they think they'll get more votes from the Tea Baggers, they will support cutting all of it.

Why would this be true? Because the "liberal press" will ignore this story and the average voter won't know/care, so there is NO downside.

These people have no core values that resemble ours. I do think they did at one time, but no more.

Posted by: Mark-NC on February 17, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Slash and burn isn't even an efficient way to do agriculture! Boy, these fiscal idiots with Republican stripes haven't learned a thing over the past 10,000 years.

The new spelling of Republican - troglodyte! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious, do all of these GOP leaders support the efforts of congressional Republicans to simply scrap AmeriCorps funding altogether?

No, but they are too afraid of the DeMented, Koch funded Teabaggers to say so publicly!

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious, do all of these GOP leaders support the efforts of congressional Republicans to simply scrap AmeriCorps funding altogether?

Yes, because Obama supports AmeriCorps, and anything Obama supports must be crushed.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Posted by: David Bailey on February 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatism:
Helping people - NO!

Bombing people - YES!

You can give a man a fish, and feed him for the day.

You can teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.

Or, you can blow him up, and keep all of the fish for yourself!
Conservatism!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, everybody knows: Americorps = Obama's Brownshirts

Posted by: chi res on February 17, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious, do all of these GOP leaders support the efforts of congressional Republicans to simply scrap AmeriCorps funding altogether?

If those congressional Republicans come from Iowa or New Hampshire, then yes.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 17, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

The veneer of "compassionate conservatism" circa 2000-2008 has worn off, leaving the true blue "fuck-you conservatism" showing underneath.

Posted by: Oh my on February 17, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think you don't understand the right wing philosophy. The basic guiding principle is that greed is good and anything that isn't greedy is bad. Helping others is not something a greedhead would do, so by definition AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, food kitchens, all of it, is bad. It's not something that an upright John Galt type would do, so therefore the right wing has to completely erase it from existence.

For what it's worth, I read an article where it showed that Ayn Rand modeled Galt on a sociopathic child murderer because he showed no compunctions or regrets whatsoever about killing her. This is the kind of person that the right wing idolizes. They do what they want and don't let anyone or any feelings stop them.

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

As the debate on this advances, it's worth emphasizing the fact that the House GOP's crusade against national service is at odds with the former positions of nearly all of the party's likely presidential candidates.

Fixed.

Posted by: Steve M. on February 17, 2011 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

John Hodgman nailed in on yesterday's Daily Show.

Posted by: Vokoban on February 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) workers are quite busy in places such as Iowa -- reeling from the 2008 flood -- helping rejuvenate communities populated by the marginalized in society.

It is easy enough to call that "community organizing," the term spat out by Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Community organizing . . . the very effort engaged in by then-civil rights attorney Barack Obama in his salad days. In that light, the cast of GOP characters cited by Steve could very well turn on AmeriCorps and its volunteers (mostly young college graduates) whose modest stipends greatly multiply themselves in benefits to communities.

Wiping out the domestic Peace Corps heightens the president's prospects for failure. It could comprise a key section in the Republican playbook.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on February 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Where did you dig up this background information? Using Google? Aha! Fruit of the poisoned tree.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 17, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Duh, it was a Clinton program...of course the Republican'ts want to kill it.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on February 17, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

c u n d gulag: Brilliant! We should start printing it on our money. Or at least our letterhead.

Posted by: You Don't Say on February 17, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Let me play devil's advocate and make the Republican argument: There are an awful lot of programs that do good works. If we were to limit budget cutting to only those programs of no social utility, there would be very little if anything to cut. Since we need to reduce the deficit, it inevitably means that some useful programs will have to be cut. The issue is not whether a program is useful, but whether or not at this point in time we can afford the expense.

Having said this, it's pretty clear that the Republicans are aiming at "redistributive" programs and programs that they believe their base and their contributors do not directly benefit from. That's why they are not, as yet, proposing to cut subsidies to oil and gas companies or to farmers.

Rather than attack each individual program choice, I think Democrats would be better served by focusing attention on the bias of the overall set of choices and the absence of proposed cuts to programs that favor the wealthy and the Republican Base. Highlight the absence of cuts to oil, gas and farm subsidies, to abstinence-only sex education program funding, etc. Emphasize the political nature of the choices.

Posted by: DRF on February 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

And when the primaries get going, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM will sound like Michelle bachmann.

Posted by: Alli on February 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

re Texas Aggie...

Steve, I think you don't understand the right wing philosophy. The basic guiding principle is that greed is good and anything that isn't greedy is bad.

Aggie, you do not understand the highly disciplined principles that we of the wealthy wing of the republican party live by!

Our wealthy or want-to-be wealthy republican principles are:

- More is never enough...
- I've got mine, f*ck you...

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 17, 2011 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

I served and felt I was on constant
probation. If you work or go to school
you could be prosececuted. Technically
taking cash for mowing a lawn once was
a serious offence. Leaving your town of
posting for a few hours on a day off
could get you in trouble. Taking a 4
hour continuing ed workshop could get
you in trouble. Therre is too much rules
and regulation and overhead. The program
was more friendly at the start. In spite
of my experience it has matured a lot of
people and taught them new skills. After
my term I appreciated living simple. It
takes a rugged individual to do Americorps.
It needs changes. I got sort of spoiled to
living on the cheap and living within a budget.
It is amazing how little we need to get by. It
is worth the time. Make sure you understand your
assignment and have a patient supervisor. My
Supervisor was good. She offered criticism at
times but she invested a lot of herself in the
project

Posted by: SKYDAWG on February 17, 2011 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I remembered conservative ire about Americorps before...

Found it...

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_04/017622.php


Stripping all funding of Americorps makes perfect sense if you live in the conservative bubble. Americorps' destruction has been on their to-do list for years.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 18, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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