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 22, 2014 17:29 GMT

CONSUMER PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices edged up slightly in September, with the overall increase held back by a third straight monthly decline in gasoline prices. The tiny gain was the latest evidence that inflation remains dormant.

The Labor Department says consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in September after having falling 0.2 percent in August. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy, also rose 0.1 percent after no gain in August.

Over the past 12 months, overall prices are up 1.7 percent and core prices are up a similar 1.7 percent. Both increases are well below the 2 percent target for inflation set by the Federal Reserve. The absence of inflationary pressures has allowed the central bank to keep interest rates at record lows to boost the economy.

SOCIAL SECURITY-COLA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says millions of older Americans who rely on federal benefits will get a 1.7 percent increase in their monthly payments next year.

It's the third year in a row the increase will be less than 2 percent.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment affects payments for more than 70 million Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

The government announced the increase Wednesday, when it released the latest measure of consumer prices. By law, the increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year.

Congress enacted automatic increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975. Until recently, the increases were rarely less than 2 percent.

AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government is adding more than 3 million vehicles to a rare warning about faulty air bags that have the potential to kill or injure drivers or passengers in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday put out a new list of vehicles, increasing the number from 4.7 million to 7.8 million. The agency urged people to get their cars repaired if they're being recalled, especially in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

The air bag inflators made by parts supplier Takata can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are inflated. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem.

The warning covers many models from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

EBOLA MONITORING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials are significantly expanding the breadth of vigilance for Ebola, saying that all travelers who come into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for symptoms of illness for 21 days.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the program will begin Monday and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.

The program will start in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says state and local health officials will check daily for fever or other Ebola symptoms.

Passengers will get kits to help them track their temperature and will be told to inform health officials daily of their status.

J&J-EBOLA VACCINE

J&J to spend up to $200M on Ebola vaccine program

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson will start safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

The health care products maker says it has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of a vaccine program being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

J&J is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic. It involves a regimen in which two vaccines are delivered two months apart. The combination provided complete protection in animals against a virus strain similar to the one causing the current outbreak in West Africa that has killed thousands of people.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company says it will also determine whether its vaccine protects against the version causing the outbreak.

MORTGAGE RISK RULES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators are proceeding with new rules that ease guidelines for banks selling mortgage securities and could mean fewer borrowers will need to make hefty down payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt the rules, which six federal agencies have been working on since 2011. Three other agencies adopted the rules Tuesday, and the Federal Reserve has scheduled a vote for Wednesday afternoon.

The rules govern the amount of risk banks must take on when they package and sell mortgage securities in a multitrillion-dollar market. In the final rules, the regulators have dropped a key requirement: a 20-percent down payment from the borrower if a bank didn't hold at least 5 percent of the mortgage securities tied to those loans on its books.

MINI-OVERSTATED GAS MILEAGE

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government has told BMW to reduce the gas mileage estimates on window stickers of four Mini Cooper models.

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, discovered the overstated mileage.

The vehicles affected are the 2014 Mini Cooper three-door and Mini Cooper three-door S models with manual and automatic transmissions. BMW must cut the highway mileage by one-to-four miles per gallon depending on the model. Estimates for city driving and combined city and highway fuel economy also must be reduced.

The EPA says it audited the Mini gas mileage and came up with lower values than BMW, which makes the cars. It's the fourth time in the past two years that the EPA has found discrepancies in the gas mileage estimates provided by an automaker.

PEW-ONLINE HARASSMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life.

The report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves.

The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn't know the person who had most recently attacked them.

Young adults -- people 18 to 29 -- were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment.

The survey was conducted between May 30 and June 30 among 3,217 respondents.

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