Let’s make some distinctions, shall we, so that when Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or some other anti-American, pro-internationalist, pro-corporate hack comes on television to dissemble about the distinctions between Neoconservative and Liberal we will have our foundations clear.
In no particular order, let’s take the differences one at a time between Neoconservatives and Liberals. Hopefully we can be somewhat comprehensive.
Liberals (including Progressives and Populists) in word and deed (Social Security, Medicare) represent the people. It is the whole point of being Liberal. They favor legislation that has the objective of creating a better, more secure and rewarding life for the People. By definition then, the Liberal political movement does not support corporations that are too big to fail, lobbying organizations working against Labor, legislators that do not advocate positions for better living, such as a better environment, or ones that promote payoffs to legislators or cronyism, or corporatism.
So it makes no sense whatsoever when the Right Wing media attack Democrats for taking money from corporations when it is clear that Democrats, while taking money from anyone who will provide it, are clearly the ones taking on the large health insurance corporations, the large credit card corporations, the oil companies, and Wall Street. Both sides take money for campaigns but 40 Neoconservative Republican Senators have voted in a block to try to prevent health care reform, financial reform and alternative energy and virtually every other piece of pro-citizen, anti-corporate legislation.
Whenever there is a conflict between one of these corporations and the People, the Liberals represent the side that favors the People. Furthermore, Liberal Democrats favor public-sponsored elections to remove all lobbyist money from the election process altogether. Where it is used it is very successful and produces candidates much more in tune with the wishes of the people on both sides of the political spectrum.
Whereas the Democrats are not Socialists or Communists…they believe in the free enterprise system, the Republicans in their most recent form show tendencies to be total corporatists, which may be a polite way of saying that they verge on somewhat benign Fascism or, at the least, plutocracy. Fascism simply means that they believe in total control over the People through a combination of government, military and large corporations, ruling with aggressive military policies, secrecy, and expecting total loyalty from members of their Party. This is certainly what we saw between 2001 and 2008.
These Neoconservative Republicans, supported, for example, not only a health insurance industry that was raping the American family with rates, cancellations, failure to pay claims…but also a financial industry that caused the Great Bush Recession of 2008. Not one single Senator on the Republican side has voted at any time for any relief on either health insurance, mortgage relief or financial reform including reform of the credit card industry.
There is an argument made by Neoconservative Republicans that the European democracies, which are more Liberal, have slightly higher taxes and vastly more social services are about to fail. But there is no evidence of this. Greece, and to a lesser degree Spain and Portugal were hit hard by the failure of the American system and by the cheap, worthless securities sold by American firms which pulled down those economies with ours. But the fact is that the failure of our financial system had an effect on the entire world.
That, by the way, was a failure of the total free and unregulated market that the Neoconservatives are so eager to see return. These are same Neoconservatives who now will not vote for either financial reform or any kind of major program to get off fossil fuels. They have already all–every single Senator–voted against an energy bill and against the Stimulus Plan which now has begun to lift the economy with over a million new jobs and jobs growing at the rate now of something over 200,000 per month and accelerating.
Many Neoconservatives are now willing to throw Bush overboard. That’s fine. The problem is that while they are willing to call Bush all the names he deserves to be called for the miserable 8 years of his Administration, they want to continue the same policies. And those would be: deficit spending, taxes too low, lax regulation and two wars (or more.) These things, in addition to causing untold personal problems, which should always be our first consideration, the costs of Neoconservatism are staggering.
In just the last 8 years, the Neoconservatives have not only cost us about $3 trillion in tax cuts, not from the higher rates of the Carter years, 74%, but from the 39% of the Clinton years down to 35%. That cost well over $1.5 trillion. The two wars, but more specifically the Iraq War, an unnecessary war, added another couple of trillion dollars to our deficits. Of the $6 trillion added to our deficits—$1.8 was from the Bush Recession of 2008 alone–$3.5 trillion could have been avoided.
The important thing to remember is that Bush was merely a figurehead. The main army of attack on our society is still in place. People like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, working on the brain dead with their constant barrage of false claims that “the American people” want lower taxes is ruining this country. No one wants higher taxes and everyone wants lower taxes. All the time. Children want candy and cookies instead of dinner, too. But we don’t permit it.
We now have the lowest tax revenues per capita since 1950! Revenues from all taxes…national, state and local…amount to only 9.2% of personal income. It seems hard to believe. But the fact is that politicians have been lowering taxes indiscriminately since 1980, when Reagan seemed to prove that it was possible.
What he proved was that there were plenty of people who would spend a great deal of money, to hide the truth, the fact that, while politicians were cutting taxes but not always cutting services. The government was going broke, bleeding slowly to death. And now we have a $13 trillion national debt.
In 1945, the National Debt was 100% of Gross Domestic Product. So every dollar that was made in the private sector was matched by a dollar spent by the Federal government, primarily on World War II. But after Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter, the national debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had steadily dropped to about 30%. By the time Bill Clinton took over Reagan and Bush I had taken it back up to 65% of GDP! More than doubled it in ten years.
Why all this talk about GDP and taxes? Because there is a commission right now set up by Barack Obama, which includes people like Pete Peterson and David Walker and others who now want American families to now suffer for Ronald Reagan’s decision, and Bush the First’s decision, and Bush the Second’s decision to keep cutting taxes, borrowing the money and giving it basically to those who profited most from the tax cuts, the top 1% of Americans.
Now they want the bottom 99% to get less in Social Security, pay more for Medicare in order to lessen the burden of increased taxes on the rich. Let’s understand what we’re talking about. We are talking about people who put out propaganda that the rich were paying too much in taxes, when people like both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were publishing articles stating the facts, namely that Buffett paid less in taxes than his secretary!
And why was that? Because people at the top, households with million-dollar incomes were getting tax breaks of around $120,000 on Bush’s first tax cut, and another $20,000 on his second. These were reductions in tax rates that had already been cut in half by Ronald Reagan and then raised slightly, less than five percentage points, by Clinton, merely to keep the budget finally in balance.
Households making over a million dollars a year over the period of the Bush Presidency and the first year of the Obama presidency, would have made, just in tax breaks per million…according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution reports, a total of $1,107,000 just in tax breaks. Even if the numbers were way off, say by a couple of hundred thousand dollars, one can see why the wealth of the country has shifted to the top 1% and even more statistically speaking to the top .1%.
In the meantime, Bush and Cheney started two wars while also cutting taxes. Forget that the numbers were off the charts wrong…huge drops in government income and huge new expenditures…but it is just plain wrong…simple minded…stupid. If you are losing $250 to $500 billion a year you do not cut taxes while taking on the hundreds of billions of dollars a year that a war will cost. Bush and Cheney made no attempt to end it. It just kept going until President Obama said that he would bring all the troops home by a date certain.
So now we have $13 trillion in debt and there are two approaches, supposedly. The Liberals will say….supposedly…raise taxes, especially on the rich. The Neoconservatives will say…supposedly…cut the size of government. Well, here is where the two theories obviously clash. Which one is correct?
The decision is pretty easy for you to make, if you know the true numbers. We take in about $1.5 trillion, let’s say, and we spend about $2.2 trillion.
The Neoconservatives, while taking Medicare and Social Security benefits, will say, let’s cut those because they represent about $500 billion. If we can bring those way down, we can save a lot of money. The Liberals will say…what are we doing in Iraq? Shut it down and cut back severely on military spending which is now the single largest expenditure of the Federal Government, every other dollar is spent on defense. Are we really getting anything remotely close to a bang for our buck?
In addition, we can fairly accurately predict, Liberals (Progresssives, Populists) will say that they want to increase taxes on everyone and to some degree, return tax bases to what they were prior to the Bush Presidency, when Bill Clinton had actually balanced the budget.
So if we overlook all the political positions that the two Parties take in order to satisfy their supporters, in the final analysis, the basic tenets are as follows: Neoconservatives…cut spending on people and do not raise taxes. The Liberals…accept only very modest cuts on people, cut military and raise taxes to some extent. The Neoconservatives will say that the Liberals will continue to raise taxes (although there is not much evidence for it) and the Liberals will say that the Neconservatives will talk about cutting spending but when in office will do what they did from 2001-2008…go on the largest government spending spree in history.
The truth factor is on the side of the Democrats. The Republicans lied about the degree to which cutting taxes would increase tax revenues (they never did but did in fact result in $13 trilllion in debts) and lied about why we needed to add $3 trillion to our debt through selective, preemptive war and lied about cutting government spending which they in fact increased by an all-time record amount.
It is pretty clear what the objectives of the two Parties are by now. The Neconservatives will say one more thing. They will say that this Liberal program might be acceptable under normal conditions but we are now in a fiscal crisis, where our national debt is 82% of our GDP. Once again, remember that our national debt at one time was 120% of GDP and Democrats, accused of being big spenders, did not increase it, but brought it down over time to about 30% of GDP.
That period was the greatest expansion of a standard of living by any society in history. It wasn’t an accident of history. We had legislation to help workers get better pay, lower hours, more spending power. Because tax laws were balanced, large amounts of taxes went into the treasury to help pay for social services. Naturally, the rich, who still only paid modest amounts on capital gains continued to grow wealthier while society on the whole prospered.
It should be noted that the Social Security system, had it not been cleaned out every year since 1984 when it was still solvent…i.e., was not borrowed from by Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush to pay for other things, would still be absolutely solvent. It never ran a deficit. It never needed a bail out but an adjustment in the age and the amounts that people would receive over the long term as more Baby Boomers would come on line.
We need to return to the simple conservative social and financial policies of the Liberal 1950s, 60s and 70s when union workers did not have to worry about their employers going broke as so many corporations do today. The very same people who want to cut Medicare and Social Security are borrowing large sums of money, indebting corporations, sending jobs abroad, taking huge multi-million dollar salaries and then simply walking away, basically having looted the company and left it for dead. And leaving workers without pensions and without jobs. There are literally thousands of such corporations, and millions of such workers who suffered. Now Wall Street financial corporations have also joined in this lust to cheat the average American worker out of a mortgage or a pension or a 401K.
The facts are clear and the facts say that it is time to work against Neoconservatism and work for a strong Liberal government.