Tea party's one goal starts to fracture the GOP

Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Tea party
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - 12 days and counting to see if the right-wing opposition to the Affordable Care Act will bring about another government shut down.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's another risky act in the world of high-stakes political theater.

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It seems almost too incredible. The Republican Party here in Michigan and in Washington gauges what it does out of fear of the tea party.

Not because the tea party has so many members, but because it has oodles and oodles of money.

Money it is willing to spend when the least bit offended by a candidate here or there who steps over a line drawn by the tea party.

Remember Senator Tom Casperson? He's the conservative Michigan Republican from the U.P. who finally switched his vote two weeks ago so the State Senate could pass Medicaid expansion.

Well, that extra healthcare is a part of the Affordable Care Act.

That means Obamacare.

As a result, Casperson is already being targeted by the tea party.

Congressman Aaron Schock is a conservative Illinois Republican who two years ago voted to increase the debt ceiling and last year said 'yes' to a last-minute spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

He, too, is being targeted by his friends in the tea party. So are ten of his colleagues.

The tea party is funded by people like Americans For Prosperity,  a Koch Brothers enterprise, and by less transparent groups like the Club For Growth, or the National Liberty Federation, and others, who don't have to tell us where their money comes from.

As noted in the New York Times yesterday, these people—these right-wing conservatives—are now spending more money attacking Republicans than Democrats are. Imagine that!

Forget the fact our economy is still on shaky ground, that our middle class is disappearing, that our educational system stacks up poorly against other wealthy countries, or that we have a host of other problems at our feet.

The tea party has one goal: To repeal or defund Obamacare. Forget the fact there have been more than 40 failed efforts in Congress already to do just that. Each one voted down.

These radical conservatives are therefore prepared, instead,  to shut down the government.

What happens in a shutdown? For starters, Social Security checks would most likely not be mailed.

Non-essential government employees would be furloughed. Parks and embassies would be shut down.

On-going projects would be put on hold. Contractors would not be paid. And it would open the door for concerns about our government defaulting on its bond obligations.

If that happened it would put the United States on a level with the city of Detroit.

The world financial community see us as a sadly out of control joke of a country on the brink of blowing its legs off.

Polls indicate the majority of Americans would blame Republicans in the event of a shutdown.

But the cash-rich tea party is willing to risk that in the name of getting rid of Obamacare, a fools errand if ever there was one.

To begin with, any legislation would have to get the President's signature. And that is simply not going to happen.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal called this wingnut war a kamikaze mission. The conservative National Chamber of Commerce is urging House Republicans to back off. Even Karl Rove said today he thinks the whole defunding effort is self-defeating.

Undaunted, the tea party continues its march toward shutdown.

It appears the only way Americans can shed themselves of this yoke called the tea party is to turn out in huge numbers on election day and quite literally vote against any candidate being supported by them.

And for moderate republicans to stand up for themselves.

The word moderate is not a dirty word.

Its time to tell the tea party and all of its wealthy backers to stop wasting our time.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 31, 2014 17:47 GMT

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months, pushing a measure of confidence to a seven-year high in October.

The University of Michigan says that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 86.9 from 84.6 in September. That's the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began. Still, the index regularly topped 90 before the downturn.

Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, says that almost six in ten of the respondents said the economy has improved recently, the highest proportion in more than 10 years.

The measure is the second this week to show consumer confidence has reached the highest level since the recession. Greater confidence and more hiring could lead to faster spending and healthier economic growth.

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in September, the first decline since January, as shoppers took a breather after a big spending spree in August. Income growth posted the slowest gain this year.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in September. Income edged up 0.2 percent in September, the smallest monthly gain since a flat reading last December.

The spending decline followed a big 0.5 percent increase in August. In September demand fell for durable goods such as autos and for nondurable goods, a drop that partially reflected falling prices for gasoline.

Spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Economists believe September will be a temporary pause as continued hiring gains pushing up spending and the overall economy in coming months.

GASOLINE PRICES

NEW YORK (AP) -- The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $3 a gallon Friday, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010.

The price at the pump fell 33 cents in October, thanks mainly to plunging oil prices, according to AAA.

Many exuberant drivers have taken to social media to post pictures of gas station signs with prices of $2.99 or lower. Drivers in South Carolina and Tennessee are paying the lowest prices, with an average of $2.75 a gallon.

Drivers in New York are paying the most in the continental U.S., at an average of $3.37. That's still 22 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Gasoline is cheaper than milk again. In September the national average price of milk was $3.73 per gallon.

EARNS-BIG OIL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Falling oil prices hardly seem to be bothering the two biggest U.S. oil companies, but things could get tougher in the coming months.

Exxon and Chevron leaned on strong performances from their refining operations to increase profits in the third quarter despite plummeting global oil prices.

The global price of oil fell 18 percent from the beginning of the quarter to the end, and it cost both companies. Revenue slipped at Exxon by 4 percent and at Chevron by 8 percent.

But low oil and natural gas prices make for low raw material costs -- and higher profit -- for refining and chemical operations, which turn oil and gas into fuels and chemicals. Profit at Exxon's refining and chemicals operations rose 38 percent compared with a year earlier, and Chevron's profit from its so-called downstream operations more than tripled.

Those results helped Exxon's overall earning rise 3 percent in the quarter to $8.07 billion. Chevron's earnings rose 13 percent to $5.59 billion.

NISSAN-AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Nissan says it's recalling more than 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the U.S. for an air bag problem that could send shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

The recall covers the QX56 SUVs from 2013 and the QX80s from 2014. The company says inflators made by Takata Corp. were built with an incorrect outer baffle part. That can cause pressure to build up, and the inflators can rupture if driver's side air bags are deployed.

Nissan has no reports of injuries from the problem. It was discovered after General Motors recalled 33,000 Cruze compact cars for the same problem in June. The Infiniti recall is part of a larger global recall of 260,000 Nissans announced last week.

Takata says the recall is separate from another one affecting 8 million vehicles in the U.S.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Inflation has crept higher in the 18 countries that use the euro but the rise to 0.4 percent in the year to October is unlikely to offer much relief to the European Central Bank as it tries to boost a weak economy.

The official figure released Friday was up from 0.3 percent the month before.

The European Central Bank is under pressure to give the eurozone another dose of stimulus measures in coming months because inflation is so low and growth so weak. There are fears the eurozone could even fall into outright deflation, a crippling downward price spiral.

Core inflation, a key measure because it excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell to 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent.

The bank's goal is to keep inflation just below 2 percent.

BRITAIN-RBS

LONDON (AP) -- Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, has set aside 400 million pounds ($639 million) to cover potential fines arising from international investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign currency trading.

The total represents over half the 780 million pounds the bank earmarked for "conduct and litigation costs" in third-quarter earnings released Friday.

The results show the bank, which was bailed out by the government during the 2008 financial crisis, swung back to profit during the July-September period. Its net income of 896 million pounds follows an 828 million-pound loss last year.

CEO Ross McEwan says the bank knows it has "a long list of conduct and litigation issues to deal with and much, much more to do to restore our customers' trust in us."

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