Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why Republicans, the party of personal responsibility, never wants to take any.

Republicans like to sell themselves as the party of personal responsibility. But they  have a long and sordid track record of never wanting to take any responsibility for anything when things don't go their way.  Personal responsibility it seems is for everyone but them.

During the current shutdown, Tea Party Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa went on CNN and blamed the entire shutdown on Obama. Unsaid, and not solicited from the not very courageous Carol Costello who conducted the interview, was that King's idea of the shutdown being Obama's fault is predicated on Obama refusing to concede to the Tea Party demands, demands King and the Republicans refuse to admit they couldn't implement because they lost the election for the White House and couldn't get a majority in the senate.

But that doesn't stop them from telling the Big Lie,  the political hallmark of Fascism, about who is to blame for the shutdown and that the American people support them.

This is how much the American people support them:

The most recent poll shows 62% blame Republicans for the shutdown. And congress' approval rating is now at 5%. Given that the shutdown and threat to default on the country's obligations are driven by the Tea Party Republicans and their constituents who are pleased they are causing the shut down,  that number, as reflected by the poll shows that Tea Party support is around 5% of the population. That translates into  5% of the people, Tea Party supporters,  who are willing to inflict damage on the other 95%.

What the House Republicans are actually trying to do which they dont want to say, or take responsibility for,  is to undo the last election which they lost.

 Obama has accused Republicans of insisting that he implement the Romney agenda that was rejected by the majority and in his words "effectively resign". And in some ways he is right. Which is why the fight is about a lot more than just Obamacare and the budget.

While many have criticized the use words like "arsonist", "anarchist", "terrorist", to describe Tea Party Republicans as going too far and not productive, the analogy isn't that far fetched in terms of their aims of bringing down the government if they can't get their way and then trying to blame the other side.

In 1932, the Nazis as a minority party, firebombed the Reichstag then blamed the opposition for the attack and accused them of trying to bring down the government. A sycophantic press didn't doubt it, let them get away with it, people believed it and the Nazis were swept into power in the next election.

Its not quite that extreme with Tea Party Republicans (though how many times did Tea Party supporters at rallies display guns and threaten, though admittedly the threats were as empty as the people making them, to use force to get their way?)  but as a political tactic of attacking the opposition government in power, trying to bring it to its knees and cause major damage to it's citzens and then blame the other side,(as King blamed Obama for closing war memorials)  it's a tactic used before and used by what most people would call the most destructive, insidious political forces in history.

In terms of Republican claims of being "the party of personal responsibility" it needs to be remembered who is really responsible for all the economic problems facing the country including the debt and the deficit, the issues the Tea Party Republicans in the House try to claim is the reason behind their actions ( if one wants to blame Obama, its that he didnt act forcefully enough to clean up their mess).

In 1992, with deficits at all time highs, Bill Clinton presented a budget which contained a 5c a gallon  increase in the gasoline tax with the money earmarked to go to eliminating the deficit. Republicans screamed "calamity". There were other aspects to the Clinton budget Republicans opposed as well and every Republican in the House and senate voted against it. They called press conference after press conference giving the country the benefit of their economic wisdom:  Clinton's budget and 5c a gallon gas tax increase would explode the deficit,  increase unemployment and send the country into a recession. The budget eventually passed when Al Gore as president of the senate cast the tie breaking vote.

Here is what happened: The Republicans batted 1.000. They were wrong about everything. Under Clinton, after his budget passed, and  during his 8 years as president,  the country went through the greatest economic expansion in history, the lowest unemployment in 40 years, the deficit was eliminated and reduced to zero and the country had a balanced budget for the first time in decades. When Clinton left office, he also left the country with a $5 1/2 trillion budget surplus to go with the zero deficit and balanced budget.

In 2000 Bush was elected with a Republican majority in the House and senate. Within 3 years the Republicans had destroyed the balanced budget, sent the country into its worst deficits in history and Bush became the first president since Herbert Hoover during the Depression to lose jobs in his first 3 years as president.

The Republicans did something else that even Paul Volcker, the chairman of the Fed under Reagan said was mind boggling. In three years they completely dissipated the$5 1/2 trillion surplus Clinton had left. In the end the Republicans destroyed the treasury, left the cupboard  bare, then deficit financed an unnecessary war in Iraq  so they didn't have to raise taxes to pay for it, an act that made them solely responsible for adding $1 trillion to the deficit. They not only didn't raise taxes to pay for their war, they actually cut taxes to fulfill their ideology. When it comes to government programs they don't like, they talk about the morality of sticking their grandchildren with the bill. When it came to a war they wanted, they had no problem sticking their grandchildren with the bill.  Then they put the icing on the cake by presiding over the worst economic collapse since the Depression.

This is who is now saying "trust us we know what's best for the country" and presenting budget demands to solve America's economic problems. And how much responsibility do they take for causing all the problems in the first place?  Nothing. It's social security's fault. It's Medicare's fault. It's Obamacare's fault. It's Miley Cyrus's fault.

During the Republican destruction of the economy, their destruction of the balanced budget and creation of the worst deficits in history, there was not a word from anyone who now claims to be a Tea Party "patriot" who said they are concerned about deficits. Which   legitimately  might call into question what their real agenda is, because based on facts, truth and history its not what they say it is.

Today, you don't hear anything from these Republicans acknowledging their disastrous handling of the American economy and taking responsibility for all  the problems they caused. You never hear them take responsibility for and admitting that they and their policies created the deficits in the first place and that they conveniently ignored their own stated principles when it suited  them so they could deficit finance a war without having to raise taxes to pay for it. Their principles it seems, applies to everyone but them.

Aiding and abetting the Republican ability to dodge responsibility for their actions and the ensuing catastrophic results are those wonderful folks whose primary professional concern is making sure they can make the payments on the beach house -- American journalists. Especially those on cable TV news.

For years Republicans, in spite of the facts, were able to make any false claims, any distorted statements or tell any lies no matter preposterous ( remember "pulling the plug on grandma"?) and never be challenged by any TV journalist, especially CNN who every day sets new records for using the words "both parties" or "both sides".  If someone was willing to contribute $1 to the treasury for every time Candy Crowley or Wolf Blitzer used the words "both parties" it would pay off the national debt.

So after being wrong about everything since 1992, after seeing the opposite of everything they stood for achieve spectacular results during the eight years of the  Clinton presidency,  then  taking power in 2000, passing their own policies and seeing catastrophic results,  these Republican Tea Party fiscal conservatives who blame everything on everyone else think they should be the stewards of the economy, they know best, they are the people looking out for what's best for the country.  And to show how much they care, they threaten to take a sledgehammer to the country's economy and credit rating  if they don't get their way and will cause major damage if they have to . If they were paying attention or taking any responsibility for anything they would acknowledge that they already have.

Which again, given the facts and history, legitimately calls into question what their real motives might be. Certainly its not to take responsibility for anything. For conservative Republicans, that's for people who don't have health insurance.

Fixing the deficit is not as hard as it sounds. What's hard is Republicans taking responsibility for what they did to cause it. And it starts with their decision back in 2002 not to raise taxes to pay for their war in Iraq. The result was clear and direct. That decision destroyed the balanced budget and created a $1 trillion deficit.

What to do about it? Apply physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If not raising taxes to pay for their war created a $1 trillion deficit ( and it did) then the only real and fair solution is to raise taxes now to cover what should have been paid for in the first place. Instead Republicans want to duck their responsibilities and pay for the deficits created by the war by sticking it to people who don't have health insurance,  people on social security pay for it with cuts to their benefits, and by cutting Medicare benefits.

Would the American people be furious at Republicans coming back now for the money in the form of higher taxes to pay for what should have been paid for in the first place? Yes. Would they take it out on them in the next election? Yes. Is it the right thing to do? Yes. It's called taking personal responsibility. And accepting the consequences.


Alessandro Machi said...

I'm not so sure there was a budget surplus when Mr. Clinton took office, I think there was a projected budget surplus.

Mr. Clinton did lower his yearly budget deficit each and every year he was in in office, the only president to do that in the past 90 years.

Republican politicians might have won support if they had proposed having ObamaCare start only in the states that voted for Mr.Obama in 2012, but that would require the Republican politicians being sincere in their alleged protest over ObamaCare.

Marc Rubin said...

"I'm not so sure there was a budget surplus when Mr. Clinton took office.."

I know you meant "left office" but there was a surplus. $5 1/2 trillion.
Im sure you will remember what happened to it when I remind you of what happened. Within a year of taking office, Bush took that surplus and gave every tax payer in America a $400 tax rebate in one of the most short sighted decisions ever made but consistent with Republican ideology. They just didnt want the government to have it so gave it back. The problem with that is obvious: no one is enjoying life today because of that extra $400. But that surplus could have reduced the deficit to zero (including the deficit financing of the Iraq war which the Republicans didnt pay for) and had $1 trillion left over to take care of any contingency problems( like the problems we are experiencing now)

When Clinton left office the deficit was zero and the country had a balanced budget, spending as much as it was taking in. Bush's tax cuts which reduced revenue and the Iraq war which added $1 trillion in government spending is what killed the budget.