Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke recently at a fund raising event for the Republican Party in the state of Iowa and he had some interesting remarks. Rand Paul is a man who may somehow have persuaded himself that he is a fiscal rebel, but is quickly persuading the rest of us that he is, in fact, a hypocrite.
At this fund raiser, the hypocrisy comes out even before the evasions, the misstatements and outright lies from Paul. It is demonstrated in his relationship to the person who introduced him, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.
Grassley wants the Republicans to concern themselves with “…preempting this 22% increase in appropriations that this Democratic Congress and this Democrat President have foisted on the American people.”
Well, if, on the one hand, the Democrats and the President did increase spending by 22%, we now, thanks to Nancy Pelosi, have in place a federal law called Paygo. So that means that where there are 22% increases, there mandated 22% cuts. Furthermore, the President has frozen government wages in place for three years. In addition the President and the Democratic Congress have put forth $31 billion in cuts to the federal budget. So, is Grassley stupid or is he a liar?
Well, we don’t know. He could simply be arranging deck chairs to make them all come out in a row and still be telling the truth by his strange standards. Let’s take what Grassley did in the last Congress and for the last 10 years. He has been one of the biggest problems in the Senate. He is a huge big-spending Neocon, calling for budget reductions, tax breaks for the rich, supporting President Bush in the Iraq War, supporting President Bush in trying to kill Social Security, in deregulating Wall Street (which caused the Great Recession of 2008) and in voting for farm subsidies of tens of billions of dollars to rich, corporate farmers.
Grassley voted for farm subsidies to people like Sam Donaldson of ABC News and Chicago Bulls multi-millionaire basketball player Scottie Pippin and thousands of other rich investors. Grassley simply paid off his big campaign contributors by making it look as though he were helping the American farmer. In reality, Grassley is setting himself up for a huge payday from his billionaire pals in private industry.
Playing the fool before his potential Republican campaign donors, he makes the ridiculous comment, contradicted by every independent economist, that the President’s stimulus plan didn’t work. Well…two questions on that.
Number one, would it have worked if it had not been forced to carry one-third in meaningless Neocon tax cuts? Grassley will tell you the same old story…the one that got us into this huge mess…that tax cuts raise revenues. If so, why have we been accumulating tens of trillions dollars in national debt over the last 30 years under Republican Presidents?
Number two, what was the alternative? Even with the 3 million stimulus-related jobs and the 2 million private jobs that followed, we were still deep in the hole because we lost 7 million jobs in the last year of the Bush regime…unheard of. It took 6 months just to get the job losses to stop. The day Obama took office the job losses were 760,000 jobs. In one month! Huge job losses continued and the Stimulus Bill didn’t even go into effect until March. To get job losses back to zero was a miracle.
And now, pandering also to not only the Rich Right Wing, Grassley panders to the Loony Right Wing. He says that we must cut $100 billion dollars from the Budget this year. Under Paygo, that would be fine. We simply need to find $100 billion in revenues to cover it. These rich Right Wing Republicans have had their taxes cut practically every year from the day that Ronald Stupid Reagan entered the White House. Now they want to decide what parts of government will be cut in order to pay for the $800 billion that we just borrowed from China to give them!
This is who Chuck Grasssley is. He’s a snake oil salesman, a Henry Hill on steroids. He goes away and in comes Rand Paul and praises him. He doesn’t stand up and say…”I differ from Chuck Grassley. I won’t put 25% of you on starvation subsistence by cutting Social Security. I won’t cut Medicare and Medicaid, as Grassley would do. I wont’ vote for tax cuts for the rich as long as we have to make drastic cuts in the budget” He doesn’t say any of that. He says what a great Senator Grassley is.
Grassley will cut the budget and his way will add another 25% to the poverty rolls. And that is on top of the 14% unemployed and underemployed or elderly or already impoverished in this country. We will soon be a country with a large, rich upper class and a huge lower class and a paper-thin middle class only one mistake away from falling into poverty.
Grassley has the nerve, after 8 years of a spending and tax cutting free-for-all under Bush and then leaving a near Depression, to say that the debt was 35% of the GDP for 50 years but now, under this President, for the last two years has grown to 65% and is approaching 95%. (Obama is really amazing. According to Grassley he took the deficit from zero to $14 trillion in two years. Hard to see how that works, since it was $13 trillion in 2008.)
While it is true that the deficit has grown by over a trillion since Obama took office, the problem with blaming him is that we had additional costs of $700 billion on top of an existing deficit of $500 billion because of unemployment, Medicaid (people falling into poverty) social services and tax revenues cut in half.
If Grassley wanted to cut the budget, he would have voted against the $800 billion in tax cuts for the rich which would have balanced the budget completely. Or he would have voted for one of something like four different job creation bills that would have jump started the economy. Instead he has been an obstructionist, a panderer to the rich and a self-promoting Neocon with no conscience.
What classification would you give to someone who lost his job could never find another, is running his savings down so low that he has almost run out. He and his family have no health insurance. He has run out of unemployment insurance and the jobs he finds do not pay him the $60,000 a year he was earning. I’ll tell you what you call this man: poor.
He is one of the millions who have been cast into poverty by the Neocon-Republicans led by Chuck Grassley and now a Tea Party contingent led by people like Rand Paul. The Neocons have no sense of decency or any morality. They want to repeal health care reform. They only want to repeal it, not reform it or modify it or improve it. Why?
Because we know that the health care lobby understands that in 2013 when the entire program takes hold, half of the American people will immediately start to see their care improve and their costs go down. Once Americans see what citizens of other countries already know, that national health care is a good thing, a very good thing, they will know that they have been lied to. Then they will leave health insurance companies in droves and rush to a public health system like Medicare to lower costs
And so Grassley introduces Rand Paul as being one of the great new members of the Republican Congress who want to cut back on the spending that Grassley has been doing like a drunken sailor for the last ten years. Paul comes out and tells a couple of good stories about one thing or another and ends up praising Grassley. See, right there you know that the Tea Party program is pure lunacy.
If Rand Paul were sincerely a reformer, he would have walked out on the stage and said that the guy who just walked off, the tin-horn politician, Chuck Grassely, was a big part of the problem. The reason Rand Paul doesn’t attack Chuck Grassley is because he and Chuck Grassley agree on two specific things. They both feel that the country belongs to those who are successful enough either to have made huge amounts of money or have been fortunate enough to inherit it.
Second, they both believe in the Neocon-Republican dogma that, in politics…perhaps even in life…you must win at all costs. In American politics order to be assured of a win, if you are not the smartest or the most dedicated, you need money, lots of it. To have money you must cater to the rich. Since you must cater to the rich to get elected, you may as well skew all your programs for the rich. That’s what these guys do.
So Rand Paul finally comes out on stage, and after a few stories that make him sound like a Northern Abolitionist…incredible….he immediately starts to criticize the President for lack of leadership. He says we have many challenges and not the least of those is fiscal insolvency. We need to address this now, he says, or we face disaster.
Then he says that we have a $2 trillion deficit. Now most people have heard that the deficit is over one trillion but you can pretty quickly understand that about $600 billion of that is because of the Recession, another $500 billion is the debt we have been carrying under Bush, and some $200 to $400 is non-social results of the Recession…no new businesses, and more people retiring, etc. The amount is $2 trillion, says Rand Paul, because there is the off-budget amount that no one ever speaks about.
The figure of $2 billion is more impressive if you are talking to people about eventually trying to balance a budget. But the fact is that Rand Paul, a Senator, did not have his facts straight. The projected 2011 budget that he is talking about is $1.362 trillion. The off-budget number is actually a plus $95 billion. Now you can look that up by simply going to the historical tables of the General Accounting Office. Economists, and quite probably Senate staff people go to it daily for information.
So if he knows those tables why did he say it was $2 billion? Does he have some information that none of us have, including the General Accounting Office, the official keeper of these kinds of records? Is he just some tin-horn politician with the good old boy style who thinks we are going to be fooled into thinking that this multi-millionaire owner of a large optometric chain in Louisville is some kind of hick? Stupid? Hes not stupid.
He’s a con man. How could someone with a good education, a sophisticated business, a father who is a Congressman and a doctor, from a somewhat cosmopolitan community like Louisville not know the difference between a 2011 budget deficit that is actually $1.267 trillion and $2 trillion? And this is the guy who says he is fiscally concerned….and he can’t even get the budget straight? He’s off by $800 billion?
He knows the real numbers. He’s a liar.
Why would he lie? Sounds better, doesn’t it…$2 trillion versus $1.2 trillion? Two trillion sounds like a lot more. And it would be…if it were true. He lies because he wants to cut the budget. He wants to cut the budget because he is going to Congress for reasons other than helping to run the country. He has a political agenda, just like all these other Southern politicians. It is no coincidence that they want to cut Medicaid, cut Social Security…and it is no coincidence that they are Republicans.
The old Dixiecrat Party became the new Conservative Republican Party the day that Reagan said he would end affirmative action. They are all racists and they don’t like paying any taxes that might go to poor people because the overwhelming number of poor people are black.
So they couldn’t chain them to a tree or hang them from a limb, or shackle them or beat them unconscious or hang them from a tree or use them up like some commodity or like some tired old horse. Now they want to starve them to death.
Rand Paul and his Tea Party associates want you to think that they are members of some populist revolt against the establishment. But here is what Rand Paul is all about, and the rest of the so-called Tea Party, too.
The Senator who can’t find GAO to learn the actual national debt has other surprises in store for this willing crowd in Iowa.
We borrow about $4 billion dollars a day, he says. Well, that sounds about right. Our deficit is $1.36 trillion on-budget, so that’s close at least. But the problem, says Paul, is that we spend about $10 billion a day, which is also pretty close. We spend about $3.83 trillion annually now. But Paul forgets that we also take in about $8 trillion dollars per day.
But do you see what he does? The difference isn’t between $4 billion a day and $10 billion a day. Ten trillion is what we spend a day, but we also take in about $8 billion a day in revenue. So, bad as it is, the $4 billion number is the final number. But ten minus four sounds better if you’re trying to talk budget cutting.
Paul goes on to say that he thinks a compromise of about $31 billion in cuts will happen this year. (Which despite Paul, is what we have heard the President is agreeable to.) The problem is that we just had $800 billion in our hands and Rand Paul’s friends and associates, and he himself, voted to give away $800 billion to the rich.
Let’s say that you are a member of that rich class, that one percent that owns as much as the bottom 160,000,000. Let’s say that you make two million this year, but in addition, you also get an additional $240,000 off your taxes. The government is going to cut the services, some of the income and much of the social services to the poor. What are you and multi-millionaire Rand Paul going to do with your extra cash?
Rand Paul says that even $31 billion in cuts to government is a pittance because it does not get at the seriousness of the problem. He says that it gets at only 2% of one year’s problem. But what is the problem? The problem is that we have a smaller government than under George W. Bush, but we also have smaller revenues, now only 17% of GDP, down from 20% of GDP when the budget was balanced.
This is a revenue problem. If we had used the $800 billion in taxes for job creation, we could have created a guaranteed 5 million jobs for two years, averaging $40,000 apiece which approximates the national average. As all those people became employed, the value of labor would go up immediately. Rand Paul knows this and he would never vote to employ people, even temporarily, in government. He believes that your water, like your gasoline, should be run by corporations that can charge you whatever they want.
If we created those 5 million jobs, the largest banks, which are deliberately sitting and trading huge amounts of cash, would be forced to make business loans. Business loans would mean private industry jobs, which would lead to suppliers, service companies, and consumer retail businesses starting up. Fewer and fewer people would be on the government rolls and industry would be jump-started.
So Rand Paul’s 2% of one year’s problem would go away for the simple reason that $100 billion would return, guaranteed, to the Treasury in the first year, and all of the unemployment-associated costs and social services costs would go away. There is $400 billion in turnaround the first year. The second year the progression would be greater, about a $600 billion differential.
So Rand Paul is right. The $31 billion we want to cut is only 2% of $1.265 (my goodness, how did he get that right, with other numbers?) but we don’t want a minus of $31 billion. We want to cut the deficit by $600 billion in two years. You can’t cut your way out. You have to earn your way out.
Any average worker or any small businessman could have told Rand Paul he was and is so far off the track that if he is not careful he will become the foolish Don Quixote of the budget deficit. You cannot cut your way out. You need more income or more revenue. Simple as that. There is only so much you can cut, then you need more money.
So for Rand Paul, the message is this. If you are serious, do what famous bank robber, Willie Sutton said to do…go where the money is. Go to the top 2% and tax the hell out of them. Use the money to create jobs and you’ll be a hero. That is, if you really are serious.