Saturday, September 8, 2012

Miraculous Signs and Wonders

U.S. President George W. Bush, 2001 - 2009
Why, after the CBO predicted in the 1990s that the US would experience $6 trillion in surpluses over the Third Millennium (2000s), did we end up in the hole today? Well, it's not that complicated.

First, the economy did a lot worse than anybody expected during George W. Bush’s presidency and the Republican “trickle-down” economic policy; the housing bubble burst in that same period due to unmitigated greed and fraud; we had the financial crisis caused by under-regulated financial institutions; and then the big recession hit in 2008. That cut income to the government and made us spend more on various benefits that kick in as a safety net, like unemployment, welfare, and food stamps. The perfect storm. But that wasn’t all.

Second, Congress cut taxes repeatedly, starting with Bush's tax cut primarily benefiting the wealthy, and so there was less revenue than we had anticipated.

Third, the government spent more—a lot more. A couple of wars, "off the books," expansion of Medicare (Bush's unfunded drug plan), and the bank bailouts ($700+ billion under Bush with no strings attached). Believe it or not, Bush and his anti-government Republicans increased government spending more than any of the six U.S. presidents preceding him, including LBJ, of Great Society fame.

Now, when you cut taxes, have less revenue coming in, and you spend more than what you budgeted -- Hello! You end up with a deficit. Any surprise there? Of course not.

And if you have a deficit, you have to pay more interest, so that brings us to four -- higher interest payments.
The economic downturn was precipitated by a Republican president, with the unbounded cooperation of a Republican House and Senate in his first term. You can go back to the 1990s and blame Bill Clinton for signing a Republican-initiated bill throwing out the Glass-Steagal Act, but if Bush and his Republican stalwarts wanted to control Goldman Sachs and their ilk, couldn’t they have re-instituted Glass-Steagal. You bet they could. Did they want to? Hell no! And they don’t want to now.

Wasn't all this a Republican nightmare perpetrated on a basically ignorant American public, 46% of whom don't believe in evolution and think Glass-Steagal is a form of art glass?

For Republicans, all this proves one thing; Obama is a communist. No, I’m not kidding. Listen to your Republican friends crow about the American Communist Party having endorsed Barack Obama. This is like believing that because the CEO of Chick-fil-A endorses Mitt Romney it makes Romney a chicken.

For Republicans, because recovery from the consequences of their disastrous time in office is slow, it follows that we must bring back a Republican-led government that will lead us out of recession with “a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders.” Verily. But without a plan, or not one they are willing to share.

We can, however, surmise what a Republican government will do. It will voucherize Medicare, and privatize Social Security, so that Wall Street can take care of your healthcare future, and BTW, repeal Dodd-Frank so that they can do it to you better.

Republicans will cut Medicaid, repeal the Affordable Care Act and let the uninsured die (listen for the cheer in the background), cut Planned Parenthood, NPR, the National Endowment for the Arts, Head Start, and Early Childhood Education.

They will do away with Affirmative Action, eliminate the Department of Education, cut the Department of Energy funding for clean up of the mess we made during the Manhattan Project, cut back EPA and OSHA and limit their ability to enforce clean air, clean water, and safety standards. How can we know this? By reading the GOP Platform. It’s poorly written and full of contradictions, but it will tell you all you need to know about who today’s Republican Party is. And it ain’t your grandaddy’s Republican Party.

"No peril justifies the regulatory impact of Obamacare on the practice of medicine, the Dodd-Frank Act on financial services, or the EPA’s and OSHA’s overreaching regulation agenda. A Republican Congress and President will repeal the first and second, and rein in the third." (The 2012 GOP Platform)

The other great financial calamity that befell the United States, the "Great Depression," lasted a decade -- ten years for my math challenged Republican friends. It took massive deficit spending to recover. After obstructing every effort that President Obama made in good faith to put us on the road to economic recovery, Republicans are now asking that we put them back in charge of the government -- a government they disdain, e.g., "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is our problem." Remember Ronald Reagan saying this in 1981? I remember, because it was the year I retired from the US Air Force. But Reagan also said this at that time, "The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no group singled out to pay a higher price."

But today's Republican Party is not the party of Reagan. Reagan was too moderate. It's the party of Bachmann, Santorum, Huckabee, Palin, Perry, Arpaio, and Limbaugh. It's an anti-science party, an anti-democracy party, an anti-everything but big business party.

The Republican Party is a party with the arrogance to believe that enough of the American people either have short memories, or are just stupid enough to ignore their record, their obstructionism, and their failed policies, and put them back in charge.

I hope to God they’re wrong! 

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