Republican Hypocrisy on the Deficit and Healthcare
by RDemocrat, Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 05:19:27 PM EDT
Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.
Boy, to hear many Republicans tell it they have been the watchdogs of fiscal responsibility. They have recently begun squawking about deficits and spending. They try to say our country is spending too much and we cannot afford Universal Healthcare. Of course, they conviently leave out the facts about why our deficit is where it is right now.
When President Bush took over control of the White House with a Republican Congress they inherited the largest surplus ever in American History and preceded to pick it clean:
President Clinton ran a unified budget surplus of $236 billion, the largest surplus in American history. Budget surpluses were expected to continue for another ten years when President Bush took office in January 2001. But under the Republican's watch, the federal budget plunged back into deficit, reaching record levels. By 2002, the unified federal budget had returned to a deficit of $160 billion and this year, President Obama inherited a record deficit of $1.3 trillion.
Republican hypocrites were mysteriously mum as George W. Bush and the Republican Congress raised the debt limit seven times and doubled our national debt:
Republicans presided over the largest explosion of debt in our nation's history. During his time in office, President Bush requested that Congress increase the statutory debt limit seven times. The day before George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, the public debt was $5.7 trillion. On the last day of President Bush's presidency in 2009, the public debt stood at $10.6 trillion, approximately $35,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.
And for all their railing about unemployment and the Obama stimulus, they caused all the problems Democrats must fix:
Not only did President Obama inherit the dismal fiscal situation created by the Republican Deficit, he also inherited a country facing very dire economic conditions. Economic growth declined dramatically from the third quarter of 2008, when there was a negative one-half of one percent of growth, to the fourth quarter of 2008, when the economy contracted at a rate of over six percent. We are in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, financial and housing crises, and we have lost over 3.3 million private sector jobs in the last six months alone.
In February, the economy lost 651,000 jobs, marking the fourteenth straight month of job losses for non-farm payrolls. Job losses in the last four months have averaged 646,000. Total job losses since the start of the recession now total 4.4 million, with over half of the losses (2.6 million) occurring in the past four months.  And though the nation has experienced the sharpest declines over the last year, job creation has been consistently weak throughout the eight years of the Bush Administration. Overall employment growth has averaged around only 22,000 jobs per month - only a fraction of the 150,000 jobs needed each month to keep up with population growth. It was not uncommon to see monthly job gains of 300,000 and even 400,000 during economic expansions during the Clinton Administration.
The facts of the matter are irrefutable. The Republicans took a budget deficit and surplus and proceeded to pick it apart. They whimpered not in protest as Republican lawmakers wasted money on a series of failed initiatives that ultimately crashed our economy. They cared not one iota about debt or deficits until President Obama took office and was force to take desperate measures to head off an impending depression caused by Republican policies of War and Corporate Welfare:
Let's start with the Republicans. They talk a good game about reining in federal spending, but they bear as much responsibility as the Democrats for the nation's $11 trillion in total debt.
It's sometimes hard to remember that when President Clinton left office in January 2001, the federal budget actually was in surplus. Yet by the time President Bush left town, the federal government was running a nearly a $1 trillion deficit thanks to spending on the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, the bank bailout and increased spending on prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.
But the Republican deficit hawks didn't really start squawking about government spending until President Obama took office and proposed a $700 billion stimulus package for the ailing economy.
In fact, Republicans set out on a crusade to "starve the beast" and actually thought huge budget deficits were a good thing. They would be able to end social programs that benefit millions of Americans all while cutting taxes on themselves and raising them on working middle-class families:
The other camp in the tax-cut crusade actually welcomes the revenue losses from tax cuts. Its most visible spokesman today is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who once told National Public Radio: ''I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.'' And the way to get it down to that size is to starve it of revenue. ''The goal is reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood,'' Norquist told U.S. News & World Report.
What does ''reducing the size and scope of government'' mean? Tax-cut proponents are usually vague about the details. But the Heritage Foundation, ideological headquarters for the movement, has made it pretty clear. Edwin Feulner, the foundation's president, uses ''New Deal'' and ''Great Society'' as terms of abuse, implying that he and his organization want to do away with the institutions Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson created. That means Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- most of what gives citizens of the United States a safety net against economic misfortune.
The starve-the-beast doctrine is now firmly within the conservative mainstream. George W. Bush himself seemed to endorse the doctrine as the budget surplus evaporated: in August 2001 he called the disappearing surplus ''incredibly positive news'' because it would put Congress in a ''fiscal straitjacket.''
Like supply-siders, starve-the-beasters favor tax cuts mainly for people with high incomes. That is partly because, like supply-siders, they emphasize the incentive effects of cutting the top marginal rate; they just don't believe that those incentive effects are big enough that tax cuts pay for themselves. But they have another reason for cutting taxes mainly on the rich, which has become known as the ''lucky ducky'' argument.
Here's how the argument runs: to starve the beast, you must not only deny funds to the government; you must make voters hate the government. There's a danger that working-class families might see government as their friend: because their incomes are low, they don't pay much in taxes, while they benefit from public spending. So in starving the beast, you must take care not to cut taxes on these ''lucky duckies.'' (Yes, that's what The Wall Street Journal called them in a famous editorial.) In fact, if possible, you must raise taxes on working-class Americans in order, as The Journal said, to get their ''blood boiling with tax rage.''
You see, the Republicans actually WANTED to run huge budget deficits and raise taxes on working Americans. They envisioned a time when America would get serious about taking care of it's citizens with things like universal healthcare and hoped by raising taxes on the working class and cutting them on the very rich coupled with running huge deficits they could convince Americans that they could not afford to fund programs that are desperately needed. It was a slick, but particularly vile and disgusting tactic that has at least partially worked. Just look at the healthcare protesters and Tea-baggers. Where were they when the real culprits were robbing the till?? They were mum.
And now the very forces that created all the debt and deficit have marshalled to convince the working men and women of America that they should not help themselves and their fellow citizens by providing Universal Healthcare. The real truth is that this program should be judged on it's own merits and how much it will help Americans and our fiscal responsibility in the long run:
So while I'm no proponent of profligate government spending, the current budget deficit shouldn't be used as excuse to squelch a potentially worthy government program that could benefit generations of Americans.
A proposal like health care reform should be judged on its own merits and not shelved simply because government spending is currently out-of-whack largely because of a need to stave off the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
In considering something like health care, there's a need to take a long-term view-not the just impact on the federal budgets for the next few years.
In the ultimate show of hypocrisy Republicans are using their own failures in promoting fiscal responsibility and raising taxes on working Americans and small businesses to argue that those very working Americans and small businesses do not deserve relief from rising healthcare costs because of the deficit they themselves have created in the attempt to "starve the beast" and repeal the New Deal.
What is particularly sad is that millions of Americans have bought into their hypocrisy and hatred as evidenced in the current townhalls. If they only knew what they were screaming about....