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Tea Party GOP's Most Ridiculous Policy Ideas

Tea Party GOP's Most Ridiculous Policy Ideas

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Published by Ken Connor

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Published by: Ken Connor on May 27, 2011
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11 of the Tea Party GOP's Most RidiculousPolicy Ideas (So Far)
They came to power promising to solve America's problems, but in the early going they've focused onfiring up their hard-right base with frivolous bills.
 February 8, 2011
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 Photo Credit: Future Atlas
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 Only weeks have passed since the new Tea Party Republicans stormed into power promising to bringwhat they see as the hallmarks of good governance -- greater accountability, fiscal restraint and an ill-defined but unwavering devotion to the Constitution. The early results of their rising influencehaven't been encouraging. The new Tea Party lawmakers have introduced a slew of truly wacky legislative proposals designed only to appeal to Glenn Beck and their far-right base.Some of them are merely symbolic, others are blatantly unconstitutional but all are profoundlyunserious in a country that faces more than its share of very real problems. Surveying this sadcollection of proposals, one might imagine that we weren't occupying distant countries, didn't have anunemployment rate over 9 percent for 21 months and weren't looking toward a record number of 
 
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foreclosures in 2011.Here's a look at some of the silliest proposals to surface so far.
1. Georgia Bill Would Ban Drivers' Licenses
“Because of the Constitution!” – without further elaboration – is a hollow but popular argument for allmanner of policies in the era of the Tea Parties, but Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, hasa curious view of what our founding documents actually proscribe.CBS' Atlanta affiliatereportsthat the lawmaker introduced a bill that would do away with drivers'licenses, arguing that they “are a throw back to oppressive times.”In his bill, Franklin states, "free people have a common law and constitutional right totravel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose.Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right."What makes this such an odd position – aside from the fact that Franklin appears to believe driving amotor vehicle is an “inalienable right” – is that licenses are issued by the states and not the federalgovernment.Franklin has served in the Georgia legislature since 1996, where he claims to be"the conscience of the Republican Caucus because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically andconstitutionally defined role.”
2. Forcing Science Teachers to 'Question' Evolution
Evolution, like gravity, is merely a theory! Of course, it's also theory supported by loads and loads of hard scientific evidence.But for Oklahoma lawmaker Sally Kern, there's an intense “scientific controversy” over whether Jesusin fact rode around on dinosaurs, and she's introduced a bill requiring teachers to explore that possibility. According toThink Progress,Kern's bill “would require the state and local authorities to 'assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addressesscientific controversies' ... but the only topics mentioned in the bill as contestable are 'biologicalevolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.'”The National Center for Science Education notesthat the proposal is the fourth anti-evolution measure to be offered in 2011 and the second in Oklahoma.[The Bill] differs only slightly from Senate Bill 320, which died in committee in February2009; a member of the Senate Education Committee told theTulsa World (February 17,2009) that it was one of the worst bills that he had even seen. In its critique (PDF) of SB320, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education argued, "Promoting the notion thatthere is some scientific controversy is just plain dishonest ... Evolutionary theory hasadvanced substantially since Darwin's time and, despite 150 years of direct research, noevidence in conflict with evolution has ever been found." With respect to the supposed"weaknesses" of evolution, OESE added, "they are phony fabrications, invented and promoted by people who don't like evolution."
3. Let's Use Tax Dollars to Finance Anti-Government Militias!
After Timothy McVeigh's deadly terror attack on a federal office building in Oklahoma City, the popularity of the “Patriot” Movement -- with its reactionary anti-government militias – declined. But
 
now that we have a black president in the Oval Office who signed a health-care bill, the militias areonce again on the rise. Now one Montana lawmaker wants to bring the militias from the fringe into the mainstream. Think Progressreportsthat, “in a nod to extremism, Montana state Rep. Wendy Warburton (R) is introducinga bill to … creat[e] what she dubs 'home guards' to provide services in case major emergencies (sic).”The
 Billings Gazette
noted that the bill “would allow the 'home guard' organizations to be formed incompanies each with their own uniforms, flags and identities. Its language also would allow them toform into 'infantry companies.'"The "home guard" would not be subject to federal oversight and a company would only berecognized if certified by the governor. Creating the paramilitary groups would cost thestate about $45,000 per year for the first few years, and the state would be required to payfor damaged equipment used by the groups during active duty.Montana's Human Rights Network says there's little doubt that the unregulated militias would be amagnet for “anti-government extremists.” Similar bills are being considered in Arizona and Oklahoma.
4. Let's Pay China's Central Bank and Default on Grandma and Grandpa
The fun isn't limited to state houses. At the federal level, we will soon face a very silly pissing matchover whether or not to raise the debt ceiling – the limit on how much public debt the government cantake on. Nobody really believes that the GOP will heed the calls from its most extreme members to block the increase.But newly minted Senator Pat Toomey is nevertheless making preparations for that possibility, offeringlegislation that's not likely to appeal to the older Tea Party types who helped him to victory. TalkingPoints Memoreportsthat Toomey is preparing a bill that would “force the U.S. government to reroutehuge amounts of money to China and other creditors in the event that Congress fails to raise its debtceiling.”If passed, Toomey's plan would require the government to cut large checks to foreigncountries, and major financial institutions, before paying off its obligations to SocialSecurity beneficiaries and other citizens owed money by the Treasury -- that is, if the U.S.hits its debt ceiling.The best part, according to TPM, is that “according to the Treasury Department, his plan wouldn'tactually avoid a default, or its catastrophic consequences.”
5. Texas 'Birther' Offers Bill Criminalizing Health-Care Reform
We've heard a lot about “criminalizing politics” – Tom Delay's defenderscontinue to insistit was thisdastardly trend, rather than his wanton violations of the criminal code, which was responsible for thedisgraced former Speaker's conviction. Now another Texas lawmaker's taking the idea to the extreme. State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, really,
really
doesn't like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year. In fact,he likes it so little that he's offered up a bill that would make it a felony – punishable by up to five yearsin prison – for a federal official to implement the law duly passed by the United States Congress lastyear.
6. Slew of Birther Bills
That wasn't Berman's first legislative foray into the fever swamps of far-right politics. Just weeks after the midterms, heintroduced a “Birther bill” requiring presidential (and vice presidential) candidates to

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