Monday, August 02, 2010

Republican's Set of Priorities and Math

"The second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40 percent of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970. This debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts." - David Stockman, former OMB Director under late President Ronald Reagan.

President George Herbert Walker Bush called it "voodoo economics," flipped for the 1988 election and then paid the price for breaking his "no new taxes" pledge. In hindsight he really wasn't that far off.

Of course today's Republicans say they want to cut government spending as well. Most won't dare to say what they want to cut aside from some generic "across the board" spending which no one seems to fear since no sacred cow is gutted but of course the money that is used to pay for the tax cuts have to come from somewhere. States may have to put their road construction projects on hold if they don't get federal aid. Teachers might get laid off. Social security benefits may have to get cut. The Food and Drug Administration might have to inspect less food.

In its effort to save money, New Jersey's Department of Motor Vehicles, for example, will no longer inspect cars and trucks for mechanical problems. The state decided it could not afford to pay for the service and forcing motorists to pay for this service was out of the question (no one in Trenton wants to face the voters' wrath over this one) but it will cost more in the long run. Insurance companies like GEICO and All State might use this latest news as a pretext to raise their premiums since the risk of insuring a car on the road that is shared by those with faulty brakes or steering problems have gone up.

Services cost money. Government programs cost money. Everything costs money and the way that a government raises the money to provide for those whom it is set up to serve is to tax those whom it was created to serve. The Republicans are willing (and in fact call for) the repeal of our president's financial reform and health care reform packages even though they are designed to benefit small investors and the middle and working class and they have, in the past, expressed a willingness to entitlement benefits. These savings, however, are more than offset by the wars in the Middle East which they would have us fund ad infinitum and the Bush tax cuts which primarily but do not exclusively benefit the rich made permanent. And yet in spite of this they have the audacity to push (rhetorically) for deficit reduction.

At times it seems as if they want to balance the budget on the backs of the middle and working class American citizen, or that they are out to defend the big guy at the expense of the small guy. How else can one explain Republican Joe Barton's (R Texas) apology to British Petroleum while referring to attempts to have it pay for the loss in revenues and jobs associated with their oil spills a "shake down." Or the Republican's opposition to the auto industry's bailout while backing the first bail out on Wall Street. How else can one explain conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's suggestion that our health care system is fine because he was effectively cared for during his latest stay in the hospital (one would think that a multimillionaire could afford the best of care).

The Republicans' sense of priorities and math just don't add up and the Democrats should call them out on it before voters begin to believe what they have to say.

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