Republicans Are The Lannisters Of American Politics

The HBO series “Game Of Thrones” dominated television until it ended with mixed feelings in 2019. Despite the sword and sorcery elements, the series managed to engage a wide audience through its political intrigue as the ruling houses schemed to win everything.

One of those houses, the Lannisters, was rich, incestuous and ruthless — similar to the Republican Party except Republicans have few if any of the Lannisters’ positive traits.

The Lannisters, Unlike The Republicans, “Always Pay Their Debts”

The Lannisters’ unofficial motto of “A Lannister always pay his debts” is a fine financial position but also a warning to enemies that they will always settle the score. While Republicans certainly settle their political scores, keeping a promise for repayment is more tenuous, which Republican Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida demonstrated on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Donalds decried the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party for not just blankly giving in to the Republicans’ every demand as they hold the world’s financial stability hostage. But all the talking points collapsed after Chuck Todd played a clip of then-President Trump discussing the debt ceiling.

Donalds comes from the same political cesspool as Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis, so he gave the game away with zero shame.

DONALDS: Well, first of all, he also said the other day on a rival network that he said that when he was president, and when they asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president. Listen, Donald Trump is always negotiating —

TODD: Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck.

TODD: How is that not absurd? It’s absurd.

DONALDS: Chuck, he’s always negotiating. That’s what he does. And it’s actually one of the reasons why so many deals for our country worked out to our benefit, as compared to his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, because he’s always negotiating.

TODD: But do you realize how partisan that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not a partisan statement.

TODD: “What is – what is good for me is not for thee.” He’s basically saying, “When I’m president, –


You know how stupid and nakedly partisan you have to be for anyone in mainstream political media to call it out, much less Chuck “Both Sides” Todd?!

Donalds then tried a little whataboutism that was so provenly false that Chuck Fucking Todd corrected him (again).

TODD: – there’s no negotiating on this. But, hey, when somebody else is president, screw them.”
DONALDS: Well, no, here’s the thing. Let’s be – let’s be realistic now. When Donald Trump was negotiating debt ceiling with Nancy Pelosi, mind you, they negotiated that.
TODD: No, they didn’t.
DONALDS: When they were –
TODD: They raised it without any restrictions.

Losing an argument to Chuck Todd should be an everlasting political wound, like Jamie Lannister’s right hand.

The Republicans’ Lannister-Like Cruelty And Greed

Republicans, like the fictional Lannisters, think they can somehow “shit gold” by just doing cuts that hurt everyone but the rich. Republicans said as much when a reporter asked about raising revenue to “solve” their manufactured debt crisis last week.

When Republicans claim small businesses and family finances are like the federal government’s budget (they aren’t), they conveniently ignore that real world small businesses and families would have to also bring in more revenue to get out of debt. You either raise prices (businesses) or get a raise/second job (families).

The House Budget Committee Chair, Rep Jodey Arrington of Texas, was happy to show his unseriousness on ABC’s “This Week.”

RADDATZ: Well, the President said he’s willing to cut spending by more than a trillion dollars. […] But he also wants Republicans to consider raising revenue. That has been a non-starter for Republicans. But will you reconsider?

ARRINGTON: No, because you couldn’t get tax policies and tax revenues in the Senate bill. We certainly weren’t going to put it in the House bill. So […] it’s not on the table for discussion.

Then there’s full-time podcaster/part-time Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on “Fox News Sunday” spitting out all kinds of bullshit, unchallenged by host Shannon Bream.

It’s not a surprise that this lie was long debunked. But Cruz continued trying to scaremonger to protect the wealthy with some stats on revenue and spending.

CRUZ: In 2017, total government spending was about $4 trillion dollars, tax revenues were about $3.3 trillion dollars. So, we had about a $700 billion dollar deficit. Fast forward to today, total government spending has gone from $4 trillion dollars all the way up to nearly $7 trillion dollars. We nearly doubled government spending since 2017. What has tax revenue done? They’ve gone from $3.3 trillion dollars to right about $5 trillion dollars.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz “conveniently” skipped the $4.9 trillion Trump added, $1.9 of it being tax cuts for the rich by fast-forwarding from 2017 to today, as if the Trump administration never existed.

Cruz’s hate for IRS agents is also to shield his rich sugar daddies, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made clear on “Meet The Press.”

YELLEN: We have an enormous gap between the taxes we’re collecting and what we should be collecting, if everyone paid the taxes that they really owe. And that’s really a reflection of tax fraud. It amounts to an estimated $7 trillion over the next decade. […] equipping the IRS with the funding they need to audit high-income individuals and corporations, that’s something that doesn’t cost money. It nets money substantially […]

For Republicans, protecting tax fraud by the rich and corporations is better when you can also be cruel to poor people and marginalized groups.

And there’s no sign that a single Tyrion Lannister resides within the Republican Party.

Have a week.

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France kicks off push to ‘appease’ nation with row over immigrant welfare fraud

The French finance minister’s pledge to crack down on immigrants abusing France’s welfare system has triggered a fresh row in a country reeling from a bitter battle over pension reform, casting doubt on President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to deliver on a pledge to “appease” and unify the nation in a hundred days.

Macron has given himself until Bastille Day on July 14 to mend his broken rapport with the French, aiming for a rebound after a gruelling pension battle that has roiled the nation and deepened a crisis in French democracy.

The “hundred days” kicked off with a flurry of ministerial announcements on Tuesday that left little doubt as to the direction France’s minority government plans to take as it seeks to regain the initiative and find new allies in parliament.

While tax fraud – traditionally a priority of the left – got a brief mention, ministers put the focus squarely on the issue of welfare fraud, long a favourite topic of the right. They promised greater checks on a back-to-work welfare benefit scheme known as the RSA, using language typically espoused by critics of “assistanat” – a derogatory term used to refer to “scroungers” living on state handouts.

Speaking on LCI television, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin drew a line between RSA beneficiaries who “show an effort” and those who “should naturally be sanctioned”. His cabinet colleague Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister, took matters a step further, linking welfare fraud and immigration.

“The French are quite rightly fed up with this fraud. They’re sick and tired of seeing people eligible for benefits (…) sending the money to North Africa or elsewhere,” he said. “That’s not what our social model is for.”

The decision to single out immigrants for criticism was swiftly denounced by the left-wing opposition, which accused the government of once more pandering to the right and far right in a bid to divert attention from the battle over pensions.

>> Le Pen’s opposition to pension reform, focus on public order ‘pays off’ in polls

Tangiers-born Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI), denounced a “new campaign” to target French nationals “who are Muslim or hail, like me, from the Maghreb”.

“Here’s a little dose of racism to start appeasing France,” tweeted the Greens’ Sandrine Rousseau, his partner in the left-wing Nupes coalition.



“The far right is dangerously filling up the government’s void,” added the Socialist leader Olivier Faure, who accused the government of peddling “racist prejudice to elude the fact that welfare fraud is mostly carried out by employers and bears no comparison with the scale of tax fraud”.

Echoes of Sarkozy

Statistics compiled by France’s top financial auditor, the Cour des comptes, show tax evasion in France eclipses social security fraud on a scale of up to 100 to 1.

“Welfare fraud amounts to between 1 and 3 billion euros per year, according to the Cour des comptes, whereas the cost of businesses cheating on social security contributions amounts to around 20 billion euros,” says Vincent Drezet, a spokesperson for the NGO Attac, best known for its calls for a Tobin Tax on financial transactions.

As for tax evasion, it amounts to a loss for the state’s coffers of “between 80 and 100 billion euros”, added Drezet, who previously headed France’s national union of revenue workers.

The scale of the problem is inversely proportional to the level of attention politicians dedicate to tax and welfare fraud respectively.

The emphasis on the latter “has been a constant theme for the past 25 years”, says Vincent Dubois, a professor of sociology at the University of Strasbourg and author of a book on state control of the “assistés” (those living on state handouts).

“While the unemployed have always been suspected of shirking efforts to find work, there was a marked shift in the 1990s when then Prime Minister Alain Juppé ordered the first parliamentary report into abuses by people benefiting from welfare programmes,” he said. “Welfare fraud has been a major topic ever since, particularly under Nicolas Sarkoy’s presidency, when ‘assistanat’ and ‘work ethic’ were constantly opposed.”

A similar rhetoric underpinned Macron’s past reforms that toughen the requirements to be eligible for unemployment benefits. During his re-election campaign, he pledged to make the RSA conditional on working 15 to 20 hours per week – a plan some unions have described as “forced labour”.

‘Foreign delinquency’

Meanwhile, treasury workers tasked with chasing after tax evaders have seen their resources dwindle, says Drezet, pointing to a 30% reduction in the number of tax controllers over the past decade.

“The state is increasingly underequipped to take on this task,” he lamented.

On Tuesday, the junior Budget Minister Gabriel Attal promised to unveil “strong measures” in the coming weeks to battle tax evasion, including doubling staff at a special unit that has recently carried out large-scale raids at banks suspected of tax fraud.

His announcement was largely eclipsed by Le Maire’s comments on immigrants abusing social security, which coincided with a promise by Darmanin to tackle “foreign delinquency” in a forthcoming immigration bill – a plan Macron revived on Monday after opting to put it on the back-burner at the height of the pension furore.

Macron after pension reform © france24


“There is clearly a renewed emphasis on welfare fraud, though this time it is explicitly associated with the subject of immigration,” said Dubois. “This summons a well-known fantasy: that behind the figure of the fraudster lies that of the immigrant who abuses the system.”

The strategy recalls the final stages of the “Grand National Debate” that Macron convened as an answer to the Yellow Vest crisis during his first term in office. Back then, the president proposed holding an annual debate in parliament on immigration as an answer to the “fiscal, territorial and social injustice” he said was voiced in the protests.

Commenting on the first steps of Macron’s latest action plan, former conservative leader Jean-François Copé spoke of a “belly dance” aimed at wooing lawmakers from the right-wing Les Républicains.

Day one of the plan was unlikely to appease the millions enraged by the government’s pension push. It may, however, have gone some way towards appeasing the handful of MPs it needs to cobble together a majority in parliament.

This article was translated from the original in French.

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