Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Republicans and Deficits

The Republican Party has recently settled on "we must reduce the deficit" as one of their rallying cries.  The country is going broke, they cry, and it's the Democrats' fault, those "tax and spend" Democrats.

I didn't notice them worrying about the country going broke under the George W. Bush administration, when they approved off-budget funding for two wars.  Did they think the money would fall from the sky? 

George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from the Clinton administration, which he "gave back to the taxpayers" (mostly to very rich taxpayers) to such an extent that his second administration would have been in the hole even without The Crash.  Republicans never complained about potential deficits when they passed the Bush tax cuts, which I personally think should be allowed to expire for everyone, including the middle class.  Tax rates under Clinton just weren't that high.

Both parties were complicit in the campaign to make everybody a homeowner, even people who couldn't afford it.  But removing the regulations on the financial industry which made the eventual crash so much worse?  Republicans.  Repealing Glass-Steagall, without which move we wouldn't have HAD to bail out the unmentionable banks?  Republicans.  Appointing a Wall Street power as Secretary of the Treasury?  (Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!)  George W. Bush.  Some Democrats voted for these moves, but Republicans drove them.

I concede that President Obama's appointee as Secretary of the Treasury also leaves a lot to be desired (can't pay his taxes, and sounds like a high school valedictorian - I just can't take him seriously) - but in Obama's defense, he took office in the middle of the worst financial crisis of the last 80 years, and Geithner was in the middle of the mess in his role at the Fed and could hit the ground running.

My point here is that Republicans only worry about the deficit the country has run up when the Democrats want to pass legislation that might help people who are not rich get back on their feet and maybe get a job.  When they want to extend the Bush tax cuts, which would mainly benefit the very rich, they never mention the deficit.  Their whole attitude is, we got ours, now pull up the ladder, anybody who hasn't already got theirs doesn't deserve it anyway.  And it's ugly.  If we want to turn the U.S. into a 3rd world country, this is the road to take - the U.S. Gini coefficient is very close to its highest historical level since they began recording in 1967.


  1. I was on my way to the airport on Monday and, just for fun, turned over to a Right wing talk radio station. It was interesting to hear them telling me that all rich people are smarter and work harder than poor people, so we shouldn't try to take more from them when they obviously deserve what they have. I have heard that from a couple right wing talkers and can't believe no one has called them on it. I wanted to call in add ask why they called every teacher and soldier in America dumb and lazy, but they never put out a phone number.

  2. I can't stand to listen to them myself, so it's nice to hear you confirm my suspicions! You realize what attitude this is? This is almost pure Calvinism: we have our riches because we are God's Elect and he has blessed us, our riches are a sign of God's grace; and people who don't have riches are clearly not blessed by God so they must be morally inferior.

  3. Bush II took us into a pointless war of choice in Iraq, gave his friends 10 years of tax vacation, and handed the mess over to Obama with a wink and a nod. I've never been a big supporter of Obama, and he's frustrated a lot of people with his waffling and "compromise" policies. The health care legislation is probably unaffordable, whatever its potential benefits may be. We're a debtor nation now. For the last 20 years most everyone who wasn't already rich, has been living on borrowed dollars and delayed obligation. Now, everyone needs to chip in to catch up, and we need to spend less on everything. To do otherwise is irresponsible. We're all going to pay for the profligacy and selfishness. It's going to hurt. Will the people who brought this on us going to suffer? Of course not. This is America, after all.