Only today, only in the most recent polls are we beginning to see the larger group of Americans turning around at some of the comments by the Tea Party and the other Neoconservative Republicans and saying: “What did he say? Did I hear that correctly?”
Only now are the vast majority of normal Americans beginning to wake up to the kind of ideological nonsense that the Tea Party Neocon-Fascists are proposing. They want to collapse the government to “save” it? They want to do away with the protections of the social safety net to “make sure that they will be there for our grandchildren?” What?
In an astoundingly insensitive proposal on the budget “crisis” (artificially created by the Tea Party—there is no real crisis) the Neocons recently gave–and wish to repeat giving–very large tax breaks to the affluent, including those who now make over a billion dollars a year but pay less than 20% of their huge and virtually too-large-to-spend incomes in taxes.
Rather than raising their taxes to the point where the rich prospered better than at any time in our country’s history…the Clinton years…they would rather cut from $500 to as much as $3,000 from the Social Security of recipients…get this…75 and 85 years old. God forbid that the poor should keep an extra five bucks.
Apparently, the idea of the Tea Party politicians is that if someone as tough as Mike Tyson turns 75 years old, he is too old to find some Congressman and beat him to death with his bare hands. And perhaps an 85-year-old Korean or WWII vet cannot shoot straight enough to get a sniper rifle and blow some southern congressman’s head completely off. Maybe they feel that they are safe attacking the old and the poor and the infirm…while snuggling up to their billionaire campaign contributors.
It is almost beyond belief that in the United States of America in the year 2011 these people could be in elected office.
Virtually every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted for a bill to require a balanced budget amendment, which if passed—it will not because the Senate will not and the President has said he will veto it—would basically shut down the government and send the country into a Depression greater than that of 1929-1941. Every single Republican voted for Paul Ryan to eliminate Medicare completely in a few years and replace it with more expensive private health insurance…if even obtainable by seniors.
It may be hard to believe right now, but we are in a very similar situation to 1929 or 1937. We have a very high number of people unemployed. We have almost as many who can only find part-time work. And we have more and more people every day, people who are employed, falling into poverty, so poor that they must go to a food bank at certain times of the year to keep their families fed.
Just as in 1929 and 1930 or again in 1937 when the economy had brought unemployment down from around 25% to 15%, the government contracted spending. Exactly what the current Neocon-Fascist idiot Tea Party people want to do today. None of them have the slightest idea of the economic history of this country and none really care.
Let’s understand why we need to cut the national debt. Many businesses carry large amounts of debt over many years. In fact, seldom do you find a corporation without considerable debt. Here’s how it works. You start a business and you are growing. You need a plant. So you borrow the money to build the plant and you put it into effect and your sales grow even more. And you make lots of profits. But you don’t pay off the building right away, you pay it off on a mortgage, which is much less than the profits you are making from the increase in sales. So your stockholders can get an annual return on their investment.
As long as your company is making money, things are fine. But if you begin to lose revenue, then you must consider alternatives, the best being that you have also maintained some cash which you used to write down the debt to make your bottom line, your profitability come out better.
But if you carry too much debt or if you run into an economic downturn, carrying that much debt could make you default. So are we ready to default?
Let’s very quickly dispatch that idea. As only one example, the two year extension of the Bush tax cuts would, if applied to the debt, immediately reduce it by almost one trillion of the 14 trillion dollars the Republicans have built up over time.
If we cut the military budget (larger than all other countries combined) by 20%, we could take another trillion off the books in ten years. If we kept the tax rates before Bush a modest 39% and closed tax loopholes for ten years, plus the reduced military spending…we would have less than 4 trillion dollars in debt, a solid financial system, a strong workforce, and be once again the most powerful economy in the world.
If, at the same time, we used $200 billion to create 5 million jobs we could end the government unemployment payments overnight, increase government revenues and jump-start our economy creating, at the very lowest multiple, another 5 million jobs, plus converting the original 5 million into the private sector over several years. The unemployment rate when Bush took over was less than 4%.
On the other hand, if we contract the economy, those roughly 10% of Americans out of work…many for more than two years and more coming on board again every day…will grow to 15% again and, if we should hit 20%…given the current way we live, the advances we have made since the 1930s, it will be another Great Depression only worse, much, much worse. Suffice to say, falling from a one-story roof is less damaging than falling from a 12-story building.
How did we come so far from reality?
It was our own fault. In 1980, Ronald Reagan lied to us. We have to say that he lied to us, because he was not stupid. He may have been naïve and lucky at the same time, but he definitely could understand the difference between cutting revenues and adding revenues.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan, supposedly under the influence of an economist by the name of Arthur Laffer, and perhaps others, certainly with the acquiescence of other economists, decided to cut taxes by half, then by two-thirds. Our top tax rate went from 70% on annual incomes over (something like) $300,000—a lot of money at that time–to 28%. He said that he would end big government, and cut spending so that the budget would balance. But did he mean it or was it—frankly—a lie.
So why did he do it? Well, there is a very reasonable theory that he did it for political reasons. One of the more influential political theorists of that time was a man by the name of Jude Wanniski. (If you listen to Thom Hartmann on the radio, you have heard this man’s name, and the “Two Santa Claus” theory.)
In short, Wanniski said that the New Deal was a great political advantage for the Democrats because it was always giving something…jobs, Social Security, Medicare, etc. Wanniski said that the Republicans should cut taxe and that would be their gift. Then, when the revenues were down, they should spend like the Democrats and create deficits so that when the Democrats returned to power, they would have to cut government and they would be the bad guys. Thus, the “Two Santa Claus” theory.
Reagan adopted this idea. Whether he did it deliberately because his second wife was the daughter of one of the great arch conservatives and she influenced him, or whether General Electric had brain-washed him that unions were dangerous and only the super-rich know how to run an economy—no one quite knows, except perhaps his second wife.
But the fact is that he cut taxes and increased spending and told the American people that it would all work out in the end. He had no idea whether it would work out. He simply believed that it would or did not care if it did not. And we began that horrible slide into debt that was continued by Bush the First and Bush the Second.
Bush the Second left us with a total of $12 trillion in debt, $7 trillion of which was created on his watch. Then he let the economy go so badly that we went into a crash that has cost us another $700 billion a year in lost revenues and unemployment and welfare costs, on top of the $300 billion deficits he was already running.
One of the important things to know about the Reagan era is that supply-side economics did not work. The idea that cutting taxes down as low as possible was no more beneficial than raising taxes so high that there were substantial revenues. Now, it is pretty clear that if we were to raise the top marginal rates to 70%, cut government spending at the same rate as the current series of austerity plans envision, we would have balanced budgets very soon, pay off the debt in ten years or less and have surpluses as far as one could imagine.
The problem with that is that our government works the opposite way. Whether our political system is flawed or people are flawed…higher revenues seemed always to lead to higher spending. Especially on those items, like quickly amortized and obsoleted military equipment.
Many people say that the supply side worked. The people who say that it did not work are those who were running it for Reagan and who left government and now tell the truth. The huge deficits were the result of no spending cuts and huge tax cuts. The increased revenues which came in the second half of the Reagan period were clearly the result of four things. And by the way, the average unemployment during Reagan: 7.5%, way above average.
Under Reagan revenues increased in the latter years because:
1. Reagan raised taxes, after initially lowering them…12 times.
2. The Baby Boomers, the first of whom were born in 1946 were now reaching their peak earning years, passing 40. They were doubling the number paying taxes.
3. Volcker, after tightening the money supply in 1980 and holding it tight until at least 1983, was now loosening the reins, increasing both residential and commercial real estate development.
4. Reagan borrowed hundreds of billions to fund a quadrupling of the military budget.
So the entire Reagan “Shining City on a Hill” was funded by borrowed money and by a growth in the population and by war machinery. (Which came back to haunt us in the Bush I and Bush II administrations…war and death on the largest scale since WWII.)
So now we have the new Neocon Republicans. Neoconservatives who not only believe that we should cut government, as Reagan did, but that we should cut tax revenues. So they have joined the one group in the country that does not want to see taxes go up to protect the solvency of the United States. These are the international billionaire owners of the global corporations. The top 1% of the taxpayers in the United States owns 64% of all corporate assets.
So we have a large bloc of Right Wing Republicans, people like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois…people with radical ideas on the Right, now influencing, to some degree, national politics. But, because of the flaws in our political system, for which we have such misplaced pride—it is definitely NOT the best operating method for a Democracy or a Republic—we have these clowns…truly ludicrous people with nutty ideas…able to hijack parts of the system.
Both want to shut down government and send us into a Depression. Neither believe in scientific, rational approaches to life. Rubio adheres to the ancient Roman Catholic principles, coming as he does and having a family that abandoned Cuba with the other Bastista government exiles. He believes that the Pope is unquestionably correct in all his moral teachings, despite the fact that many popes fathered illegitimate children, imprisoned scientists, authorized international persecutions of Jews and theologians who disagreed with them.
That’s Rubio…grew up in the household of exiles from the Batista dictatorship, absolute in his outdated religious ideas, not knowledgeable at all in the potential disasters he is promoting…and a captive of Right Wing billionaire corporate lobbyists. Rubio, who won with only 43% of a very small vote, would not be in the Senate at all if it were not for the Cuban exile community that we harbor in Florida, and who now have purchased a large segment of Florida, as they had done in Cuba before Castro kicked them out.
Walsh is a largely ignorant loudmouth, also rigid, 18th Century Catholic, a one-issue freshman legislator with no prior national experience who wants and has now helped to push through the House a balanced budget amendment for the billionaires, one that will not ever see the light of day outside the House and merely wastes everyone’s time.
Walsh as the winner of the GOP primary by a hair, backed by the Tea Party money, defeated incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean in the 8th District of Illinois. The 8th is an affluent but moderate Chicago North Shore suburban district. Walsh won by lying and identifying himself in the campaign as a moderate Republican. He won by 291 votes after the Green candidate took 6,000 votes from Melissa Bean.
These two are typical of the Tea Party legislators. We have 15 million people unemployed and they are investigating Roger Clemens. We have dangerously high levels of utilization of aircraft controllers, yet they want to cut that budget. We have more people than ever falling into poverty, with an estimated 3 million homeless, as opposed to 600,000 in 2007, yet they want to cut more from Medicaid and food stamps.
Free clinics have seen their applicants grow by 50% in the last two years, yet their funds, because the middle class are unemployed, have fallen by more than 20%. Food banks are experiencing record increases and mortgage foreclosures are at an all time high.
Yet Rubio and Walsh and their billionaire sponsored Tea Party friends ignore all these social problems. Apparently their lobbyist friends, at an average $300K per year don’t have those problems. But these guys want to deny the debt-level increase to make things much, much worse. It is the astonishing stupidity of an entire group of followers of a failed political theory who have gone completely crazy.