Extortion is obtaining something from someone who is induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, or fear that an unpleasant result will create damage for the people under their care such as their family. There are examples of rich and powerful people inducing politicians to deceive the public and act on their behalf by intimidating them with electoral demise leaving the victim little recourse but to resign their office and expose the extortionist, or follow directions and violate their office and the public trust. There has been a culture of extortion plaguing Washington for decades, but over the past four-and-a-half years it has increased to a point that a few rich and powerful actors have put the nation at risk and created mass suffering for a growing segment of the population. The conservative movement has openly called for war on the government to transform the nation to fit their libertarian vision, and they have used extortion to induce Republicans to use extortion to achieve their libertarian masters’goals.
It has long been a practice of groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), evangelical fanatics, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ALEC, Koch brother’s Americans for Prosperity, Grover Norquist, and various conservative belief tanks to grade Republicans based on their voting records. For example, any Republican who even considers voting for gun safety measures is threatened by the NRA with a failing grade, loss of campaign donations, and a certain primary challenge in the next election. Evangelical groups launch vigorous campaigns against Republicans who fail to support anti-women’s choice measures, and a critical assessment by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist brings out teabagger opposition to unseat Republicans who dare support any form of government revenue. Nearly every conservative group recruits and funds primary challengers to politicians unwilling to support Draconian cuts to domestic programs, and it explains once-moderate Republicans willingness to slash domestic programs that inflict damage on their own constituents. Republicans may call it conservative politics, but it is simple extortion that Republicans in turn use to extract concessions from President Obama and Democrats to satisfy their corporate and anti-tax masters.
It is important to look back at the debt ceiling crisis of 2011 to comprehend the web of extortion extending from Grover Norquist and libertarian Koch brothers down to Republicans John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan who extorted devastating spending cuts by threatening the full faith and credit of the United States with a credit default. Americans will be paying for Republican extortion for a decade as a result of the debt limit fiasco, and besides costing the nation over $19 billion in extra interest fees after S&P downgraded America’s credit, there were hundreds-of-thousands of jobs lost and millions more as a result of Republican’s sequestration.
It is also important to remember that after Republicans extracted $1.5 trillion in domestic spending cuts and waited to enact brutal sequester cuts, Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.” Boehner was happy to inflict damage that cost Americans jobs, the government added interest expense, and the sequester that is ravaging Americans and the economy, but he was thrilled to extort no tax increases that prompted S&P to downgrade America’s stellar credit rating. Now, as the Republicans await another opportunity to extort more budget cuts in the upcoming budget and debt ceiling battle, Boehner signaled Republicans will not consider any new revenue and is using the sequester he was “pretty happy” about to extort deeper cuts from President Obama.
On Tuesday, a Republican who is likely not being extorted by Norquist, Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity expressed reluctance to keep sequester cuts from doing any more damage. The House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) finally said what President Obama and Democrats have stated for months that “the sequester is unrealistic, ill-conceived, and a policy that must be brought to an end.” However, Boehner said, “Sequestration is going to remain in effect until the president agrees to cuts and reforms that will allow us to remove it, none of us wanted, none of us like it, there are smarter ways to cut spending.” Boehner, besides being an extortionist is a liar; especially when he said he was pretty happy and that President Obama “insisted on the sequester.” The President has offered major concessions to Republicans to replace the cuts that are ravaging jobs, the economy, and Americans’ lives, but Boehner is insisting on more.
Boehner exposes his allegiance to libertarians when he said “none of us” want the sequester when he has the power to stop the cuts immediately, but he is holding out for reforms (banking and environmental deregulation), deeper domestic cuts, and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations in Paul Ryan’s budget. President Obama has already approved over $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and offered Republicans even more, but Boehner and his libertarian masters demand more and he is unwilling to make any concessions. It is despicable for Boehner to demand deeper cuts and tax reform from the President in exchange for raising the debt limit and fixing the sequester, but it is pure evil to use results of 2011’s extortion as a threat to force the President Obama to concede just to save the American people and the economy from more damage.
It is likely there are Republicans who know their “no new revenue” policies and devastating budget cuts are retarding economic growth, killing jobs, and harming Americans, but they are victims of extortion by the likes of Norquist, the Chamber of Commerce, and libertarian belief tanks threatening their political existence. Part of their dilemma is pledging allegiance to Norquist to never raise taxes, and the threat of primary challenges funded by the Koch brothers, Heritage PACs, and wealthy corporations if they violate their sworn oath. The fact that Republicans violated their oath of office by swearing an oath to Norquist should precipitate ethics investigations or recall efforts for violating Article 1 Section 8, but Republican leadership itself is being threatened with political oblivion if they fail to do their masters’ bidding. If they had the slightest modicum of integrity or regard for this country and its people, they would either renounce their loyalty to anti-American conservatives and libertarians or resign their offices, but like most people caught up in criminal enterprises, the appeal of easy money (campaign donations) and political power is irresistible.
There are many pundits that claim Republicans have become a joke, but there is nothing whatsoever funny about criminals; especially when they are damaging the country and people they were elected to serve. Republicans are criminals for using extortion, hostages, and ransom demands to benefit a few powerful men and it is meaningless that they are extortion victims themselves. They extorted devastating budget cuts to kill jobs, retard economic growth, and increase poverty to preserve tax cuts for their masters and they plan to extort more damage from President Obama. However, the President warned Republicans he will not negotiate with hostage takers and extortionists again, and it is the right tactic when dealing with criminals who should at least face voter recalls for their malfeasance. If they had any integrity or regard for this country or its people, they would renounce their loyalty to the real crime bosses or resign their offices, but they have neither integrity nor regard for America and that alone should warrant an ethics investigation.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.