These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about "values," "human dignity" and the "culture of life." Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?
As Scott Horton reports in his Harper's Magazine blog: "Several days before his first meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Mukasey's Justice Department handlers arranged a private meeting for him with a number of 'movement conservatives.'... They pushed aggressively on the torture question. They wanted Mukasey to pledge that he would toe the administration's line" by not criticizing the administration's approval of waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques, and they wanted him to "protect those who authored the [interrogation] program" by issuing opinions that would keep those responsible for the program from facing criminal prosecution.
Politics and government in the United States are marked by the fact that U.S. elected officials in many cases have very short terms of office and face the prospect of being defeated in primary elections and have to run for office more as individuals than as standard-bearers for their party and have continually to raise large sums of money in order to finance their own election campaigns. Some of these factors operate in other countries. There is no other country, however, in which all of them operate, and operate simultaneously.
While already in existence, in 1993 the government significantly expanded the program so that it now gives a family with two children a 40-cent payment from the Internal Revenue Service for every dollar of income earned up to $9,500. A part-time $8-an-hour job thus becomes, after taxes, an $11.20 an hour job for the working poor.
The tax credit means that a two-child family with a full-time minimum-wage worker is lifted -- just barely -- above the poverty line.
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