By Zaineb Mohammed, Oct 21, 2011 9:23 AM
When Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann spoke at the Commonwealth Club in the bastion of liberalism that is San Francisco she lived down to expectations. Her speech was at best unsurprising and at worst without substance. It was, in short, polemics.
Unemployment insurance, Bachmann insists, is a disincentive to work. She lashed out at the Obama administration for being “anti-business.” And she blamed taxpayer-subsidized benefits for “illegal immigrants” for blunting America’s innovative edge. Once one comes up for air, who doesn’t Bachmann fault for America’s decline?
The answer: corporations. Bachmann argues that reducing regulatory barriers into the marketplace and lowering corporate tax rates would foster innovation and thus create jobs. “The time has come to unleash the genius of Adam Smith’s invisible hand,” she declared. She totally ignores the role lack of oversight over banks and Wall St. played in the current financial crisis.
Bachmann embellished on her economic and tax reform proposals with her idea that every American should pay something in taxes, “even if it is just $1.” What that would do to streamline economic reform is anyone’s guess.
Continuing with her slash and burn plans for the country, Bachmann stated her intention to eliminate federal government agencies, such as the EPA and the U.S. Department of Education, and repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
Her foreign policy plans, which include negotiating with Libya and Iraq to reimburse the U.S. for its military expenditures in those two countries, are some of her most alarming – in that they are so completely without nuance.
She saved her vitriol mostly for Iran. “The statements of the president of Iran have been those of a genocidal maniac,” she declared. Contradicting her earlier statements that we should more carefully examine when we choose to engage in conflicts in other countries, she proclaimed that not intervening on the behalf of Iranian protestors in 2009 who were, “yearning for independence,” was not prudent. As president she would, “respond to the Iranian threat with everything the U.S. has on the line.”
“I support the Jewish state of Israel,” Bachmann told her audience, before denouncing Palestine’s bid for statehood as an “end-run attempt” around doing what she insists they need to before gaining any formal recognition -- namely, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and ceasing the launching of rockets into Israel. However, she made no mention of any steps Israel would need to take in the peace process.
With regards to immigration policies, Bachmann was careful to note that, “the U.S. is not anti-Hispanic.” But she said it is unfair for citizens to shoulder the costs of “illegal immigration” through taxpayer-subsidized benefits - though what those benefits are exactly, she did not say. And when asked about the question of anchor babies (should the 14th amendment exclude the U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants from its guarantee of citizenship) she was vague -- “that should be addressed.”
Her reply to a question that compared the Occupy Wall St. movement to the Tea Party dripped with disdain, “The Tea Party picks up its trash after it has its demonstrations.” She dismissed the calls for more government spending, such as the proposed idea that the government assume the burden of student loans, claiming that recent massive increases in government spending have been, “a miserable failure.”
In a city known for being a liberal bubble, it was noteworthy that the two positions that won her the most applause were her stance on immigration and her defense of Israel.