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 March 27, 2015 17:24 GMT

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But the slowdown is expected to be short-lived. Stronger growth is expected for the rest of the year as a recovering job market supports healthy gains in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December period, an estimate that was unchanged from a month ago. The economy had surged at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

The final look at fourth quarter GDP found consumer spending was stronger than previously estimated but business restocking was weaker.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bad weather and rising gasoline prices pushed U.S. consumer sentiment a bit lower in March.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index slipped to 93 this month from 95.4 in February. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, notes that despite the monthly drop, consumer optimism was the highest in a decade for the first three months of 2015.

Sentiment dropped most this month among low-income households, which are especially sensitive to high utility bills in the winter. Confidence rose for mid- and high-income households. Curtin predicted that an improving job market would boost consumer spending the rest of the year.

AIRLINES-COCKPIT RULES

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Europe's aviation safety agency is recommending that airlines across the continent always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.

European airlines, including the Lufthansa Group that includes Germanwings, have been making commitments to implement the measure after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit to crash the plane.

U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.

The European Aviation Safety Agency's executive director, Patrick Ky, says "while we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews."

The president of the German pilots union Cockpit tells The Associated Press that his organization would support measures requiring two people in the cockpit at all times during flights, but he cautions that such a move wouldn't solve all security problems.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. resistance to a Chinese-led Asian regional bank is leaving it isolated among its Asian and European allies.

That's giving some heft to China's frequent complaints that Washington wants to contain its rise as a world power.

One of America's closest friends in Asia, South Korea, announced Thursday it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The institution is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.

The U.S. has expressed concern that the new bank will allow looser lending standards, undercutting the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, where the U.S. and Japan have the most clout.

But since Britain broke with Washington two weeks ago, other major European economies have signed up for the Chinese-led bank. Australia also appears poised to join.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's alternate minister for international economic relations says his government is prepared for a "rupture" with the country's creditors if its current bailout negotiations don't go well.

Euclid Tsakalotos said Friday the government would not be negotiating properly if it didn't envisage a rupture with its partners, although he would not say what exactly a rupture might entail.

Greece's government is in talks with its creditors -- eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to unlock urgently needed funds from the country's bailout. It must present a list of reforms by early next week, which it hopes will lead to the disbursement.

Tsakalotos, speaking on private Star TV, said the government was intentionally creating ambiguity with its partners regarding its intentions as a negotiating tactic.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors deciding the outcome of a much-watched gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm are set to enter their third day of deliberations.

The jury of six men and six women are due back in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday in Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias.

Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations and says Pao had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case has put a spotlight on gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

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The U.S. has drastically cut imports in recent years and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the National Petroleum Council's study predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson chaired the committee that drafted the study. He says oil companies need to start probing the Artic because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market.

Geologists estimate the Arctic holds about a quarter of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and gas deposits. But environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is operating without a permanent leader. Its chairman has been forced to resign, following accusations of mismanagement.

A White House official says Rafael Moure-Eraso (rah-fah-YEL' moh-RAY' eh-RAH'-soh) stepped down Thursday at the administration's request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

The National Safety Council says the independent federal agency under Moure-Eraso repeatedly fell under scrutiny for board departures, delayed investigations and other issues. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had accused Moure-Eraso of violating his oath of office and the law. Committee members had requested his resignation.

The board is responsible for investigating chemical accidents. Its members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

President Barack Obama has nominated Vanessa Sutherland to succeed Moure-Eraso.

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