Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A new Pew Research poll is getting a lot of attention because it shows the share of Republicans who believe in evolution has declined 11 percent since 2009, down to just 43 percent. In 2009, 54 percent said that human beings had “evolved over time.”

A quick poll of 2008 Republican candidates for president found that 7 out of 10 recognized the science of evolution. No such poll was taken during the 2012 GOP primary but not one of the eight candidates said he or she would be willing to accept a tax increase, even if it were paired with spending cuts at a rate of 10 to 1.

But in 2013, after the Bush tax rates expired, Congress voted to end the tax breaks for those earning $400,000, along with slightly higher taxes on capital gains and inheritances. The resulting increase in revenue along with budget cuts and the fastest growing job market since 2005 have resulted in a deficit that’s falling at nearly record rates.

The deficit was cut by $409 billion, or 37 percent, from the last fiscal year to $680 billion—$170 billion less than the Congressional Budget Office originally predicted.

While these numbers are still large, they’re even more impressive when you consider the key metric economists look at — deficit as a share of gross domestic product.

The White House presented this chart to illustrate how significant the reduction actually is:

deficitchart_v2_0

By actual dollar amounts and as a share of GDP, the budget deficit is falling — quickly.

Yet for some reason, the percentage of Republicans who believe deficit reduction is occurring is a fraction of those who believe in evolution or even climate change.

Only 12 percent of Republicans believed that progress was being made in reducing the deficit in a Pew poll released earlier this month — even though the deficit shrunk by more than a third!

12-19-2013-7

This matches a Bloomberg poll in October that showed two-thirds of Republicans, including 93 percent of Tea Partiers, believed the deficit was actually growing.

In an economy where millions are out of work, deficit reduction is most likely harmful. But the media goes out of its way to depict a deficit as inherently evil, while neglecting to make clear that it is actually shrinking precipitously.

When it comes to politics, most people are guilty of what Chris Mooney labels “motivated reasoning.”

Though climate change and evolution are theories that are accepted by the vast majority of scientists, they are still theories. The deficit, however, unquestionably exists. It was much larger the year before than it is now. Only 1 out of 10 Republicans is willing to accept this reality.

Before we start worrying about the right accepting scientific theories, let’s first try to get them to agree that facts exist.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)


Twitter has restricted access to a tweet posted Monday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, in which the Florida Republican called for what commenters described as extrajudicial killings of protesters.

"Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?" Gaetz tweeted, joining Donald Trump and other Republicans in blaming anti-fascists for the violence across the country at protests over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes, even as Floyd said he could not breathe. Autopsies have found that Floyd died of asphyxia.While Gaetz's tweet is still up, users have to click on it to see its contents. It's covered by a box that reads, "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

Democratic lawmakers called out Gaetz in response to the tweet and urged Twitter to remove it from the social media platform.

"Take the Gaetz tweet down right now @twitter. RIGHT NOW," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted Monday night. "The survivors of mass shootings are lighting up my phone. They are scared to death this will inspire someone to start shooting into a crowd tonight. They are right."

After Twitter took action against his tweet, Gaetz said, "Their warning is my badge of honor."

"Antifa is a terrorist organization, encouraging riots that hurt Americans. Our government should hunt them down. Twitter should stop enabling them. I'll keep saying it," Gaetz said in a tweet that he pinned to the top of his profile page.

Donald Trump has demanded that the antifa movement be labeled a domestic terrorist organization.

However, as factcheck.org noted, "There is no such official federal designation for domestic terrorism organizations." Even if such a designation existed, the site said, it would be "difficult or questionable" to categorize antifa in that manner because it is not an organized group with a hierarchy and leadership.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.