The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

Source: Consortium News, via RSN

Author: Robert Parr

“Even as the Republican Right licks its wounds after taking a public-opinion beating over its government shutdown and threatened credit default, the Tea Partiers keep promoting a false narrative on why the U.S. debt has ballooned and why the economy struggles, a storyline that will surely influence the next phase of this American political crisis.

If a large segment of the American public continues to buy into the Tea Party’s fake reality, then it is likely that both the political damage and the economic decline will continue apace, with fewer good-paying jobs, a shrinking middle class and more of the bitter alienation that has fed the Tea Party’s growth in the first place. In other words, the United States will remain in a vicious circle that is also a downward spiral.

The pattern can only be reversed if American voters come to understand how and why their economic well-being is getting flushed down the drain.

The first point to understand is that the current $16.7 trillion federal debt is about $11 trillion more than it was when George W. Bush took office. Not only did Bush’s tax-cut-and-war-spending policies send the debt soaring over the next dozen years but it was those policies that eliminated the federal surpluses of Bill Clinton’s final years and reversed a downward trend in the debt that had “threatened” to eliminate the debt entirely over the ensuing decade.

Amazingly, President Clinton left office in January 2001 with the federal budget in the black by $236 billion and with a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion. The budgetary trend lines were such that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan began to fret about the challenges the Fed might face in influencing interest rates if the entire U.S. government debt were paid off, thus leaving no debt obligations to sell.

Thus, Greenspan, an Ayn Rand acolyte who was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, threw his considerable prestige behind George W. Bush’s plan for massive tax cuts that would primarily benefit the wealthy. In that way, Bush and the Republicans “solved” the “problem” of completely paying off the federal debt.

When Bush left office in January 2009 – amid a meltdown of an under-regulated Wall Street – there was no more talk about a debt-free government. Indeed, the debt had soared to $10.6 trillion and was trending rapidly higher as the government scrambled to avert a financial catastrophe that could have brought on another Great Depression.

Reaganomics’ Failure

But this debt crisis did not originate with George W. Bush. It can be traced back primarily to President Reagan, who arrived in the White House in 1981 with fanciful notions about restoring America’s economic vitality through massive tax cuts for the wealthy, a strategy called “supply-side” by its admirers and “trickle-down” by its critics.

Reagan’s tax cuts brought a rapid ballooning of the federal debt, which was $934 billion in January 1981 when Reagan took office. When he departed in January 1989, the debt had jumped to$2.7 trillion, a three-fold increase. And the consequences of Reagan’s reckless tax-cutting continued to build under his successor, George H.W. Bush, who left office in January 1993 with a national debt of$4.2 trillion, more than a four-fold increase since the arrival of Republican-dominated governance in 1981.

During 1993, Clinton’s first year in office, the new Democratic administration pushed through tax increases, partially reversing the massive tax cuts implemented under Reagan. Finally, the debt problem began to stabilize, with the total debt at $5.7 trillion and heading downward, when Clinton left office in January 2001.

Indeed, at the time of Clinton’s departure, the projected ten-year surplus of $5.6 trillion meant that virtually the entire federal debt would be retired. That was what Fed Chairman Greenspan found worrisome enough to support George W. Bush’s new round of tax cuts aimed primarily at the wealthy, another dose of Reagan’s “supply-side.”

The consequences – especially when combined with Bush’s decision to rush into two major wars without paying for them – proved disastrous. The federal debt resumed its upward climb. By August 2008, just before the Wall Street crash, the debt was over $9.6 trillion, nearly a $4 trillion jump since Bush took office.

And, after the Wall Street collapse in September 2008, the federal government had little choice but to increase its borrowing even more to avert a global economic catastrophe potentially worse than the Great Depression. By January 2009, just five months later, the debt was $10.6 trillion, a $1 trillion increase and counting.

Many of the Republican leaders who stomped their feet during the recent budget showdown, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, were among those who favored the Bush tax cuts, the costly invasion of Iraq and bank deregulation. In other words, they were denouncing President Obama for a debt crisis that they helped create.

But the record of reckless Republican budget policies from Reagan through Bush-43 was not only destructive to the fiscal health of the government. The “supply-side,” “free-trade” and deregulatory strategies – including some facilitated by the Clinton administration – proved devastating to the nation’s ability to create good-paying jobs and to sustain the Great American Middle Class.

Zero Job Growth

During the decade of George W. Bush’s presidency, the United States experienced zero job growth. And zero is actually worse than it sounds since none of the preceding six decades registered job growth of less than 20 percent.

By comparison, the 1970s, which are often bemoaned as a time of economic stagflation and political malaise, registered a 27 percent increase in jobs. Yet, in part because of that relatively slow rise in jobs – down from 31 percent in the 1960s – American voters turned to Ronald Reagan and his radical economic theories of tax cuts, global “free markets” and deregulation.

Reagan sold Americans on his core vision: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Through his personal magnetism, Reagan then turned taxes into a third rail of American politics. He convinced many voters that the government’s only important roles were funding the military and cutting taxes.

Yet, instead of guiding the country into a bright new day of economic vitality, Reagan’s approach accelerated a de-industrialization of the United States and a slump in the growth of American jobs, down to 20 percent during the 1980s. The percentage job increase for the 1990s stayed at 20 percent, although job growth did pick up later in the decade under President Clinton, who raised taxes and moderated some of Reagan’s approaches while still pushing “free trade” agreements and deregulation.

Yet, hard-line Reaganomics returned with a vengeance under George W. Bush – more tax cuts, more faith in “free trade,” more deregulation – and the Great American Job Engine finally started grinding to a halt. Zero percent increase. The Great American Middle Class was on life-support.

Ignoring Reality

Despite these painful statistics of the past three decades, Reaganomics has remained a powerful force in American political life. Anyone tuning in CNBC or picking up the Wall Street Journal would think that these economic policies had enjoyed unqualified success for everyone, rather than being a dismal failure for all but the richest Americans. The facts were especially stark for the 2000s, the so-called “Aughts” or perhaps more accurately the “Naughts.”

For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households,” wrote the Washington Post’s Neil Irwin in a Jan. 2, 2010, review of comparative economic data. “But since 2000, the story is starkly different.”

As the Post article and its accompanying graphs showed, the last decade’s sad story wasn’t just limited to the abysmal job numbers. U.S. economic output slowed to its worst pace since the 1930s, rising only 17.8 percent in the 2000s, less than half the 38.1 percent increase in the despised 1970s. Household net worth declined 4 percent in the last decade, compared to a 28 percent rise in the 1970s. (All figures were adjusted for inflation.)

Despite this record of economic failure from Bush’s reprise of Reaganomics – trillions more in government debt but no net increase in jobs or household wealth in the last decade – many Americans appear to have learned no lessons from either the Bush-43 presidency or Reagan’s destructive legacy. Any thought of raising taxes or investing in a stronger domestic infrastructure remains anathema to significant segments of the population still enthralled by the Tea Party.

Indeed, across the mainstream U.S. news media, it is hard to find any serious – or sustained – criticism of the Reagan/Bush economic theories. More generally, there is headshaking about the size of the debt and talk about the need to slash “entitlement” programs like Social Security and Medicare. Instead of paying heed to the real lessons of the past three decades, many Americans are trapped in the Reagan/Tea Party narrative and thus repeating the same mistakes.

‘Voodoo Economics’

The U.S. political/media process seems resistant to the one of most obvious lessons of the past three decades: Simply put, Reaganomics didn’t work. As George H.W. Bush once commented – when he was running against Reagan in the 1980 primaries – it is “voodoo economics.”

Yet, the fact that the United States has embraced “voodoo economics” for much of the past three-plus decades and refuses to recognize the statistical evidence of Reaganomics’ abject failure suggests that the larger lesson of this era is that the U.S. political process is dysfunctional, a point driven home by the recent Tea Party-led government shutdown and threatened debt default.

In the decades that followed Reagan’s 1980 election, the Right has invested ever more heavily in media outlets, think tanks and attack groups that, collectively, changed the American political landscape. Because of Reagan’s sweeping tax cuts favoring the rich, right-wing billionaires, like the Koch Brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife, also had much more money to reinvest in the political/media process, including funding the faux-populist Tea Party.

That advantage was further exaggerated by the Left’s parallel failure to invest in its own media at anything close to the Right’s tens of billions of dollars. Thus, the Right’s outreach to average Americans has won over millions of middle-class voters to the Republican banner, even as the GOP enacted policies that devastated the middle class and concentrated the nation’s wealth at the top.

So, even as American workers struggled in the face of globalization and suffered under GOP hostility toward unions, the Right convinced many middle-class whites, in particular, that their real enemy was “big guv-mint.”

Though Obama won the presidency in 2008, the Republicans didn’t change their long-running strategy of using their media assets to portray the Democrats as un-American. The Right waged a relentless assault on Obama’s legitimacy (spreading rumors that he was born in Kenya, he was a secret socialist, he was a Muslim, etc.) while a solid wall of Republican opposition greeted his plans for addressing the national economic crisis that he inherited.

The Rise of the Tea Party

Like previous Democrats, Obama initially responded by offering olive branches across the aisle, but again and again, they were slapped down. In mid-2009, Obama wasted valuable time trying to woo supposed Republican “moderates” like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine to support health-care reform. Meanwhile, Republicans filibustered endlessly in the Senate and whipped their right-wing “base” into angrier and angrier mobs.

Initially, the GOP strategy proved successful, as Republicans pummeled Democrats for increasing the debt with a $787 billion stimulus package to stanch the economic bleeding. The continued loss of jobs enabled the Republicans to paint the stimulus as a “failure.” There was also Obama’s confusing health-care law that pleased neither the Right nor the Left.

The foul mood of the nation translated into an angry Tea Party movement and Republican victories in the House and in many statehouses around the country. Gradually, however, a stabilized financial structure and a slow-healing economy began to generate jobs, albeit often with lower pay.

Obama could boast about sufficient progress to justify his reelection in 2012, with most voters also favoring Democrats for the Senate and the House. However, aggressive Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts helped the GOP retain a slim majority in the House despite losing the popular vote by around 1½ million ballots.

But the just-finished budget/debt showdown has shown that the Tea Party’s fight over America’s political/economic future is far from over. Through its ideological media and think tanks, the Right continues to hammer home the Reagan-esque theory that “government is the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Left still lacks comparable media resources to remind U.S. voters that it was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class – from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.

Many Americans don’t like to admit it – they prefer to think of their families as reaching the middle class without government help – but the reality is that the Great American Middle Class was a phenomenon made possible by the intervention of the federal government beginning with Franklin Roosevelt and continuing into the 1970s. [For one telling example of this reality — the Cheney family, which was lifted out of poverty by FDR’s policies — see Consortiumnews.com’s “Dick Cheney: Son of the New Deal.“]

Further, in the face of corporate globalization and business technology, two other forces making the middle-class work force increasingly obsolete, the only hope for a revival of the Great American Middle Class is for the government to increase taxes on the rich, the ones who have gained the most from cheap foreign labor and advances in computer technology, in order to fund projects to build and strengthen the nation, from infrastructure to education to research and development to care for the sick and elderly to environmental protections.

In other words, the only strategy that makes sense for the average American is to reject the theories of Ronald Reagan and the Right. Rather than seeing the government as “the problem” and higher taxes on the rich as “bad,” the American people must come to understand that, to a great extent, government has to be a big part of the solution.”


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, “Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush,” was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, “Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq” and “Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth'” are also available there.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/19956-focus-the-abject-failure-of-reaganomics

 

50 Reasons You Despised George W. Bush’s Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication

Source: AlterNet

Author:  Steven Rosenfeld

“On Thursday, President Obama and all four living ex-presidents will attend the dedication of the $500 million George W. Bush Presidential Libraryat Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Many progressives will remember Bush as a contender for the “worst president ever,” saying he more aptly deserves a multi-million-dollar prison cell for a litany of war crimes.

Amazingly, the Bush library seeks to ask visitors “What would you have done?” if you were in this president’s shoes. The ex-president’s defenders are betting that the public will reconsider their judgments after a hefty dose of historical amnesia. Bush has been absent from political debates in recent years, instead making millions in private speeches. Today, his popularity is even with Obama’s; both have 47 percent approval rating.

Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.

1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.

2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda.

3. He covered up his past. He was a party boy, the scion of a powerful political family who got away with being a deserter during the Vietnam War. He was reportedly AWOL for over a year from his assigned unit, the Texas Air National Guard, which other military outfits called the “Champagne Division.”

4. He loved the death penalty. As Texas governor from 1995-2000, he signedthe most execution orders of any governor in U.S. history—152 people, including the mentally ill and women who were domestic abuse victims. He spared one man’s life, a serial killer.

5. He was a corporate shill from Day 1. Bush locked up the GOP nomination by raising more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time. He lunched with CEOs who would jet into Austin to “educate” him about their political wish lists.

6. He gutted global political progress.He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, saying that abiding by the agreement would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.”

7. He embraced global isolationism. He withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia’s protest, taking the U.S. in a direction not seen since World War I.

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. He ignored the Aug. 6, 2001 White House intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” Meanwhile, his chief anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, and first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, testified in Congress that he was intent on invading Iraq within days of becoming president.

9. Ramped up war on drugs, not terrorists. The Bush administration had twice as many FBI agents assigned to the war on drugs than fighting terrorism before 9/11, and kept thousands in that role after the terror attacks.

10. “My Pet Goat.” He kept reading a picture book to grade-schoolers for seven minutes after his top aides told him that the World Trade Centers had been attacked in 9/11. Then Air Force One flew away from Washington, D.C., vanishing for hours after the attack.

11. Squandered global goodwill after 9/11. Bush thumbed his nose at world sympathy for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, by declaring a global war on terrorism and declaring “you are either with us or against us.”

12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan. The Bush administration soon started beating war drums for an attack on Iraq, where there was no proven Al Qaeda link, instead of Afghanistan, where the 9/11 bombers had trained and Osama bin Laden was based. His 2002 State of the Union speech declared that Iraq was part of an “Axis of Evil.”

13. Attacked United Nation weapons inspectors. The march to war in Iraqstarted with White House attacks on the credibility of U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, whose claims that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons proved to be true.

14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons. In a major speech in October 2002, he said that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to send unmanned aircraft to the U.S. with bombs that could range from chemical weapons to nuclear devices. “We cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” he said.

15. He ignored the U.N. and launched a war. The Bush administration tried to get the U.N. Security Council to authorize an attack on Iraq, which it refused to do. Bush then decided to lead a “preemptive” attack regardless of international consequences. He did not wait for any congressional authorization to launch a war.

16. Abandoned international Criminal Court. Before invading Iraq, Bush told the U.N. that the U.S. was withdrawing from ratifying the International Criminal Court Treaty to protect American troops from persecution and to allow it to pursue preemptive war.

17. Colin Powell’s false evidence at U.N. The highly decorated soldier turned Secretary of State presented false evidence at the U.N. as the American mainstream media began its jingoistic drumbeat to launch a war of choice on Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

18. He launched a war on CIA whistleblowers. When a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed saying there was no nuclear threat from Iraq, the White House retaliated by leaking the name and destroying the career of his wife, Valerie Plame, one of the CIA’s top national security experts.

19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker. Before leaving office, Bushpardoned the vice president’s top staffer, Scooter Libby, for leaking Plame’s name to the press.

20. Bush launched the second Iraq War. In April 2003, the U.S. military invaded Iraq for the second time in two decades, leading to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and more than a million refugees as a years of sectarian violence took hold on Iraq. Nearly 6,700 U.S. soldiers have died in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

21. Baghdad looted except for oil ministry. The Pentagon failure to plan for a military occupation and transition to civilian rule was seen as Baghdad was looted while troops guarded the oil ministry, suggesting this war was fought for oil riches, not terrorism.

22. The war did not make the U.S. safer. In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies)asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and had worsened the terror threat.

23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear. From inadequate vests from protection against snipers to Humvees that could not protect soldiers from roadside bombs, the military did not sufficiently equip its soldiers in Iraq, leading to an epidemic of brain injuries.

24. Meanwhile, the war propaganda continued. From landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to declare “mission accomplished” to surprising troops in Baghdad with a Thanksgiving turkey that was a table decoration used as a prop, Bush defended his war of choice by using soldiers as PR props.

25. He never attended soldiers’ funerals. For years after the war started, Bushnever attended a funeral even though as of June 2005, 144 soldiers (of the 1,700 killed thus far) were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetary, about two miles from the White House.

26. Meanwhile, war profiteering surged.The list of top Bush administration officials whose former corporate employers made billions in Pentagon contracts starts with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which made $39.5 billion, and included his daughter, Liz Cheney, who ran a $300 million Middle East partnership program.

27. Bush ignored international ban on torture. Suspected terrorists were captured and tortured by the U.S. military in Baghdad’s Abu Gharib prison, in the highest profile example of how the Bush White House ignored international agreements, such as the Geneva Convention, that banned torture, and created a secret system of detention that was unmasked when photos made their way to the American media outlets.

28. Created the blackhole at Gitmo and renditions. The Bush White House created the offshore military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as secretdetention sites in eastern Europe to evade domestic and military justice systems. Many of the men still jailed in Cuba were turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.

29. Bush violated U.S. Constitution as well.The Bush White House ignored basic civil liberties, most notably by launching a massive domestic spying program where millions of Americans’ online activities were monitored with the help of big telecom companies. The government had no search warrant or court authority for its electronic dragnet.

30. Iraq war created federal debt crisis.The total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, when the long-term medical costs are added in for wounded veterans, a March 2013 report by a Harvard researcher has estimated. Earlier reports said the wars cost $2 billion a week.

31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding. At the height of the Iraq war, the White House cut funding for veterans’ healthcare by several billion dollars, slashed more than one billion from military housing and opposed extending healthcare to National Guard families, even as they were repeatedly tapped for extended and repeat overseas deployments.

32. Then Bush decided to cut income taxes. In 2001 and 2003, a series of bills lowered income tax rates, cutting federal revenues as the cost of the foreign wars escalated. The tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, with roughly one-quarter going to the top one percent of incomes compared to 8.9% going to the middle 20 percent. The cuts were supposed to expire in 2013, but most are still on the books.

33. Assault on reproductive rights.From the earliest days of his first term, the Bush White House led a prolonged assault on reproductive rights. He cut funds for U.N. family planning programs, barred military bases from offering abortions, put right-wing evangelicals in regulatory positions where they rejected new birth control drugs, and issued regulations making fetuses—but not women—eligible for federal healthcare.

34. Cut Pell Grant loans for poor students. His administration froze Pell Grants for years and tightened eligibility for loans, affecting 1.5 million low-income students. He also eliminated other federal job training programs that targeted young people.

35. Turned corporations loose on environment. Bush’s environmental record was truly appalling, starting with abandoning a campaign pledge to tax carbon emissions and then withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases. The Sierra Club lists 300 actions his staff took to undermine federal laws, from cutting enforcement budgets to putting industry lobbyists in charge of agencies to keeping energy policies secret.

36.. Said evolution was a theory—like intelligent design.One of his most inflammatory comments was saying that public schools should teach that evolution is a theory with as much validity as the religious belief in intelligent design, or God’s active hand in creating life.

37. Misguided school reform effort. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiativemade preparation for standardized tests and resulting test scores the top priority in schools, to the dismay of legions of educators who felt that there was more to learning than taking tests.

38. Appointed flank of right-wing judges. Bush’s two Supreme Court picks—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito—have reliably sided with pro-business interests and social conservatives. He also elevated U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to an appeals court, despite his known segregationist views.

39. Gutted the DOJ’s voting rights section. Bush’s Justice Department appointees led a multi-year effort to prosecute so-called voter fraud, includingfiring seven U.S. attorneys who did not pursue overtly political cases because of lack of evidence.

40. Meanwhile average household incomes fell. When Bush took office in 2000, median household incomes were $52,500. In 2008, they were $50,303, a drop of 4.2 percent, making Bush the only recent two-term president to preside over such a drop.

41. And millions more fell below the poverty line. When Bill Clinton left office, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, there were 39.8 million, according to the U.S. Census, an increase of 26.1 percent. The Census said two-thirds of that growth occurred before the economic downturn of 2008.

42. Poverty among children also exploded. The Census also found that 11.6 million children lived below the poverty line when Clinton left office. Under Bush, that number grew by 21 percent to 14.1 million.

43. Millions more lacked access to healthcare. Following these poverty trends, the number of Americans without health insurance was 38.4 million when Clinton left office. When Bush left, that figure had grown by nearly 8 million to 46.3 million, the Census found. Those with employer-provided benefits fell every year he was in office.

44. Bush let black New Orleans drown. Hurricane Katrina exposed Bush’s attitude toward the poor. He didn’t visit the city after the storm destroyed the poorest sections. He praised his Federal Emergency Management Agency director for doing a “heck of a job” as the federal government did little to help thousands in the storm’s aftermath and rebuilding.

45. Yet pandered to religious right. Months before Katrina hit, Bush flew back to the White House to sign a bill to try to stop the comatose Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed, saying the sanctity of life was at stake.

46. Set record for fewest press conferences. During his first term that was defined by the 9/11 attacks, he had the fewest press conferences of any modern president and had never met with the New York Times editorial board.

47. But took the most vacation time. Reporters analyzing Bush’s record foundthat he took off 1,020 days in two four-year terms—more than one out of every three days. No other modern president comes close. Bush also set the record for the longest vacation among modern presidents—five weeks, the Washington Post noted.

48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. Not since Richard Nixon’s White House and the era of the Watergate burglary and expansion of the Vietnam War have there been as many power-hungry and arrogant operators holding the levers of power. Cheney ran the White House; Rove the political operation for corporations and the religious right; and Rumsfeld oversaw the wars.

49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions. From Iraq war General Tommy Franks’ declaration that “we don’t do body counts” to numerous efforts to impeach Bush and top administration officials—primarily over launching the war in Iraq—he has never been held to account in any official domestic or international tribunal.

50. He may have stolen the 2004 election as well. The closest Bush came to a public referendum on his presidency was the 2004 election, which came down to the swing state of Ohio. There the GOP’s voter suppression tactics rivaledFlorida in 2000 and many unresolved questions remain about whether the former GOP Secretary of State altered the Election Night totals from rural Bible Belt counties.

Any bright spots? Conservatives will lambaste lists like this for finding nothing good about a president like W. So, yes, he created the largest ocean preserve offshore from Hawaii in his second term. And in his final year in office, his initiative to fight AIDS across Africa has been credited with saving many thousands of lives. But on balance, George W. Bush was more than eight years of missed opportunities for America and the world. He was a disaster, leaving much of America and the world in much worse shape than when he took the oath of office in 2001. His reputation should not be resurrected or restored or seen as anything other than what it was.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/50-reasons-you-despised-george-w-bushs-presidency-reminder-day-his-presidential?akid=10363.123424.Vl7-RQ&rd=1&src=newsletter830237&t=3

 

Obama First Since Ike to Win 51% Twice, Final Tally Shows

Romney can now say: “47 percent of the population voted for me!”

From: Newsmax

Barack Obama is the first president in more than five decades to win at least 51 percent of the national popular vote twice, according to a revised vote count in New York eight weeks after the Nov. 6 election.

State election officials submitted a final tally on Dec. 31 that added about 400,000 votes, most of them from provisional ballots in the Democratic stronghold of New York City that were counted late in part because of complications caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The president nationally won 65.9 million votes — or 51.1 percent — against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who took 60.9 million votes and 47.2 percent of the total cast, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

(N.B.: adding new meaning to ‘the 47%’!)

Obama is the first president to achieve the 51 percent mark in two elections since Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, who did it in 1952 and 1956, and the first Democrat to do so since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won four consecutive White House races. Roosevelt received 53.4 percent of the vote — his lowest — in his last race in 1944.

Obama, 51, benefited from political factors that included a lack of serious opposition for his party’s nomination or from well-known third-party challengers, and an absence of social unrest, scandal or foreign-policy disasters during his first term, said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington.

“Under the big picture, this was an entirely predictable election outcome,” Lichtman said.

The president won the popular vote in 26 states and the District of Columbia, totaling 332 electoral votes, or 62 more than the 270 needed to win the presidency. Romney won 24 states with 206 electoral votes. Obama won 365 electoral votes in 2008.

Congress certified the 2012 electoral votes in a joint session today. Obama will take the oath of office on Jan. 20, a Sunday, and give his inaugural speech at the Capitol on Jan. 21.

Turnout in this year’s presidential race was about 129.1 million, down from the record 131.3 million four years ago.

Obama’s national vote total fell by about 3.6 million votes from his record 69.5 million in 2008, when he was elected the nation’s first black president. In that race, he won 52.9 percent — with a victory margin of more than 9.5 million votes over Republican John McCain — amid a financial crisis that took hold at the end of Republican George W. Bush’s presidency.

The nation’s unemployment rate, 7.8 percent when Obama succeeded Bush in January 2009, rose to 10 percent that October before falling to 7.7 percent last November. Obama is the second president since World War II to win re-election with a jobless rate above 6 percent. The other was Republican Ronald Reagan in 1984.

“He was able to campaign against the economy back in 2008 because it was Bush’s problem,” Rhodes Cook, a political analyst who publishes a newsletter, said in an interview. “It got reversed. He got stuck with the economy this time.”

Romney, a former private-equity executive and governor of Massachusetts, failed to parlay voter anxiety about the economy into a victory.

While Obama’s national vote percentage fell by about 2 points from four years ago, he improved on his 2008 performance in six states, including New York, where his 63.3 percent was the best by any presidential nominee since 1964, and New Jersey, where his 58.3 percent was the best by a Democratic White House hopeful since 1964.

In just four states — Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — was the winning candidate’s margin of victory less than 5 percentage points, the smallest number of states below that threshold since 1984, when three states were within 5 points amid Reagan’s 18-point victory in the popular vote over Democrat Walter Mondale.

In 2004, when Bush was re-elected with a popular vote margin of less than 3 points over Democrat John Kerry, 11 states were decided by fewer than 5 points. In 1976, when Democrat Jimmy Carter won the White House and edged President Gerald Ford by 2 points, 20 states were within 5 points.

The Nov. 6 results underscore challenges for Republicans as they seek an Electoral College majority in 2016 and beyond.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, with a total of 242 electoral votes, have voted Democratic in six straight presidential elections. They include the biggest electoral-vote prize, California, where Obama won its 55 electoral votes with a 23-point win.

Twenty-two states with 180 electoral votes have voted Republican in the past four elections.

“You have an electorate that’s very polarized and pretty even, though it’s a situation now though where the Democrats seem to have a little better handle on the map than the Republicans do,” Cook said.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Obama-Eisenhower-electoral-college/2013/01/04/id/470148?s=al&promo_code=11913-1#ixzz2H7BrkeNZ
Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Obama-Eisenhower-electoral-college/2013/01/04/id/470148?s=al&promo_code=11913-1

 

Top Ten Clint Eastwood Empty-Chair Falsehoods

You can’t see me, but I’m talking to Clint Eastwood sitting spectrally in an empty chair, and I am replying to his confused rant.

From: RSN

By: Juan Cole

“You can’t see me, but I’m talking to Clint Eastwood sitting spectrally in an empty chair, and I am replying to his confused rant.

1. Mr. Eastwood, you called the failure to close the Guantanamo Bay penitentiary a broken promise. President Obama was prevented from closing Guantanamo by the Republicans in Congress, which refused to allocate the funds necessary to end it. Do you remember this Washington Post headline, “House acts to block closing of Guantanamo”?

2. Mr. Eastwood you called “stupid” the idea of trying terrorists who attacked New York in a civilian courtroom in New York. But what would have better vindicated the strengths of America’s rule of law, the thing about the US most admired abroad? Mr. Eastwood, perhaps you spent so many years playing vigilantes who just blew people away (people who in the real world we would have needed to try to establish their guilt or innocence) that you want to run our judicial system as a kangaroo court.

3. You complained that there are 23 million unemployed Americans. Actually there are 12.8 million unemployed Americans. But there are no measures by which W. created more jobs per month on average during his presidency than has Obama, and there is good reason to blame current massive unemployment on Bush’s policies of deregulating banks and other financial institutions, which caused the crash of 2008. 

4. You criticized President Obama for giving a target date for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan of 2014, and alleged that Romney said, “Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?” But George W. Bush set a target date of 31 December, 2011, for withdrawal from Iraq, and did so in negotiation with the Iraqi parliament. Was that also a bad idea? Have you considered that NATO allies and the government of President Hamid Karzai may have demanded an announced withdrawal date as a prerequisite of continued cooperation with the US there? And, just for your information, Gov. Romney hasn’t called for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately.

5. Mr. Eastwood, you made fun of Joe Biden as the ‘intellect of the Democratic Party.’ Vice President Biden was chair or ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for decades, helped to save the Bosnian Muslims from genocide, and passed the Violence against Women Act. I haven’t always agreed with him myself, but he has been among our more thoughtful contributors to American foreign policy. You, on the other hand, like to pretend to shoot down large numbers of people over the course of a violent two-hour fantasy.

6. You criticized President Obama for ‘talking about student loans.’ The Republican Party, especially Paul Ryan, wants to take away the government-backed loans on which millions of students depend, at a time when student indebtedness is at an all-time high. Just because some people are way overpaid for play-acting doesn’t mean that ordinary people don’t need student loans to get the credentials that allow them to make a better life for themselves. 

7. Mr. Eastwood, you criticized President Obama for saying he is an ‘ecological man’ but flying in Air Force One. Under President Obama, non-hydro forms of green energy in the United States have doubled from 3 percent of electricity production to 6 percent. Obama’s tax credits have been a big reason why. In contrast, Mr. Romney wants to get rid of credits for wind energy, which will hurt the Iowa economy, e.g., and is in the back pocket of Big Oil, so that he will stand in the way of green energy. I think doubling renewables rather offsets an occasional jet ride. And, it is Obama’s policies that will get us to the solar-driven airplane, not Romney’s.

8. You made fun of Obama because he has a law degree from Harvard. I just want you to sit in your empty chair for a while, and think about that.

9. You called Mr. Romney a ‘stellar businessman,’ but his business appears to have been to send American jobs to China.

10. I don’t know who suggested to you that you address us at the end and say, “Make my day,” with the implication that we should vote Romney-Ryan. But what I remember is, that phrase is a threat you are going to do bad things to us.”

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/13255-focus-top-ten-clint-eastwood-empty-chair-falsehoods

12 Things You Should Know About Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

From: Think Progress

By:Igor Volsky

Mitt Romney has picked as his running mate 42 year-old Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, which the New York Times has described as “the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress in modern times.” Below are 12 things you should know about Ryan and his policies:

1. Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ryan heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” Rand described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages. Though he publicly rejected “her philosophy” in 2012, Ryan had professed himself a strong devotee. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he said at a D.C. gathering honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”

2. Ryan wants to raises taxes on the middle class, cuts them for millionaires. Paul Ryan’s infamous budget — which Romney embraced — replaces “the current tax structure with two brackets — 25 percent and 10 percent — and cut the top rate from 35 percent.” Federal tax collections would fall “by about $4.5 trillion over the next decade” as a result and to avoid increasing the national debt, the budget proposes massive cuts in social programs and “special-interest loopholes and tax shelters that litter the code.” But 62 percent of the savings would come from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, who would also experience a tax increase. That’s because while Ryan “would extend the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year, he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time.” Households “earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.”

Audiences have booed Ryan for the unfair distribution!

3. Ryan wants to end Medicare, replace it with a voucher system. Ryan’s latest budget transforms the existing version of Medicare, in which government provides seniors with a guaranteed benefit, into a “premium support” system. All future retirees would receive a government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But since the premium support voucher does not keep up with increasing health care costs, the Congressional Budget Offices estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. A recent study also found that had the plan been implemented in 2009, 24 million beneficiares enrolled in the program would have paid higher premiums to maintain their choice of plan and doctors. Ryan would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67.

4. Ryan thinks Social Security is a “ponzi scheme.” In September of 2011, Ryan agreed with Rick Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” andsince 2005 has advocated for privatizing the retirement benefit and investing it in stocks and bonds. Conservatives claim that this would “outperform the current formula based on wages earned and overall wage appreciation,” but the economic crisis of 2008 should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers who seek to hinge Americans’ retirement on the stock market. In fact, “a person with a private Social Security account similar to what President George W. Bush proposed in 2005″ would have lost much of their retirement savings.

5. Ryan’s budget would result in 4.1 million lost jobs in 2 years. Ryan’s budget calls for massive reductions in government spending. He has proposed cutting discretionary programs by about $120 billion over the next two years and mandatory programs by $284 billion, which, the Economic Policy Institute estimates, would suck demand out of the economy and “reduce employment by 1.3 million jobs in fiscal 2013 and 2.8 million jobs in fiscal 2014, relative to current budget policies.”

6. Ryan wants to eliminate Pell Grants for more more than 1 million students.Ryan’s budget claims both that rising financial aid is driving college tuition costs upward, and that Pell Grants, which help cover tuition costs for low-income Americans, don’t go to the “truly needy.” So he cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could “ultimately knock more than one million students off” the program over the next 10 years.

7. Ryan supports $40 billion in subsides for big oil. In 2011, Ryan joined all House Republicans and 13 Democrats in his vote to keep Big Oil tax loopholes as part of the FY 2011 spending bill. His budget would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.” For instance, it “calls for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone” and would spend only $150 million over five years — or 20 percent of what was invested in 2012 — on energy programs.

8. Ryan has ownership stakes in companies that benefit from oil subsidies . Ryan “and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” the Daily Beast reported in June of 2011. “Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.”

9. Ryan claimed Romneycare has led to “rationing and benefit cuts.” “I’m not a fan of [Romney’s health care reform] system,” Ryan told C-SPAN in 2010. He argued that government is rationing care in the state and claimed that people are “seeing the system bursting by the seams, they’re seeing premium increases, rationing and benefit cuts.” He called the system “a fatal conceit” and “unsustainable.”

10. Ryan believes that Romneycare is “not that dissimilar to Obamacare.” Though Romney has gone to great lengths to distinguish his Massachusetts health care law from Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t see the difference. “It’s not that dissimilar to Obamacare, and you probably know I’m not a big fan of Obamacare,” Ryan said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the American Spectator in March of 2011. “I just don’t think the mandates work … all the regulation they’ve put on it…I think it’s beginning to death spiral. They’re beginning to have to look at rationing decisions.”

11. Ryan accused generals of lying about their support for Obama’s military budget. In March, Ryan couldn’t believe that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey supports Obama’s Pentagon budget, which incorporates $487 billion in cuts over 10 years. “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said at a policy summit hosted by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget.” He later apologized for the implication.

12. Ryan co-sponsored a “personhood” amendment, an extreme anti-abortion measure. Ryan joined 62 other Republicans in co-sponsoring the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This would outlaw abortion, some forms of contraception and invitro fertilization.

Emphasis Mine.

see: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/08/11/677171/12-things-you-should-know-about-vice-presidential-candidate-paul-ryan/

Lakoff: Why Conservatives Sell Their Wildly Destructive Ideology Better Than Democrats

Framing is (or should be) about moral values, deep truths, and the policies that flow from them.

From: AlterNet

By George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling

“As of their kickoff speeches in Ohio, Romney and Obama have both chosen economics as their major campaign theme. And thus the question of how they frame the economy will be crucial throughout the campaign. Their two speeches could not be more different.

Where Romney talks morality (conservative style), Obama mainly talks policy. Where Romney reframes Obama, Obama does not reframe Romney. In fact, he reinforces Romney’s frames in the first part of his speech by repeating Romney’s language word for word — without spelling out his own values explicitly.

Where Romney’s framing is moral, simple and straightforward, Obama’s is policy-oriented, filled with numbers, details, and so many proposals that they challenge ordinary understanding.

Where Obama talks mainly about economic fairness, Romney reframes it as economic freedom.

As the authors of Authors of The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, here’s a discussion of Obama’s speech.

****Obama began his kickoff campaign speech in Cleveland stating that he is “in complete agreement” with Romney: “This election is about our economic future. Yes, foreign policy matters. Social issues matter. But more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions” regarding economic policy.

Obama’s strategy is to pin the Bush economic disaster on Romney, with good reason, since Romney has essentially the same policies as Bush. Since Obama has not consistently pinned the blame on Bush over the past four years, he comes off as defensive.

Romney’s strategy is to pin the disaster on Obama. He uses the Caretaker Metaphor — Obama has been the national caretaker, so the present condition is his responsibility. Since Obama started out assuming a caretaker’s responsibility, it is difficult for him to escape the frame now. He should have avoided it from the beginning. Pinning the disaster on Bush is possible, but it will take a lot of repetition, not just by the president, but by Democrats in general. Not just a repetition of economic facts, but of the moral differences that led to both the Bush disaster and the Obama attempt to recoup.

Perhaps the most important omission from the Obama speech was any overt mention of The Publiceverything that our citizenry as a whole provides to all, e.g., roads, bridges, infrastructure, education, protection, a health system, and systems for communication, energy development and supply, and so on. The Private — private life and private enterprise — depends on The Public. There is no economic freedom without all of this. So-called “free enterprise” is not free. A free market economy depends on a strong Public. This is a deep truth, easy to recognize. It undercuts Romney’s central pitch, that is it private enterprise alone that has made our country great, and that as much as possible of The Public should be eliminated.

Romney calls free enterprise “one of the greatest forces of good this world has ever known.” In reality, America free enterprise has always required The Public.

Romney attacks The Public, speaking of “the heavy hand of government” and “the invisible boot of government.” The contrast is with the putative “invisible hand” of the market — which leads to the good of all if everyone follows their self-interest and the market’s natural force is not interfered with. Romney’s “invisible boot” evokes the image of a storm trooper’s boot on your neck. The government is the storm trooper, your enemy. You are weak and in an impossible position. You can’t move — a metaphor for being held back and not being able to freely engage in the economy. Romney uses the frame consistently: “The federal establishment,” he says,” has never seemed so hostile.” The Public is an “establishment” — an undemocratic institution — which is the enemy of the people. It is implicit in this frame that the government is not the people.

Romney’s assumption here is that democracy is based on the “liberty” to seek one’s self interest with minimal regard to the interests or well being of others. People who are good at this will succeed, and they deserve to. People who are not good at this will fail, and they should. In Romney’s speech, “The Freedom to Dream,” he used the word “freedom” 29 times. This is what he means.

Although Obama intends to argue against this understanding, he unintentionally feeds it. He does so in three ways: First, by accepting and reinforcing many of Romney’s central frames (often by negating them); second, by moving to the right in his own argumentation; and third, by not spelling out his own moral principles explicitly right from the start.

First, here are three examples of Obama repeating Romney’s frames (in bold):

“Governor Romney and his allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down.

“They maintain that if we eliminate most regulations, if we cut taxes by trillions of dollars, if we strip down government to national security and a few other basic functions, the power of businesses to create jobs and prosperity will be unleashed and that will automatically benefit us all.

Republicans “believe that if you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the market will solve all of our problems on its own.

Though Obama’s statements are supposed to be taken sarcastically, they actually are positive, straightforward, easy to understand versions of Romney’s positions and beliefs.

Second, Obama argues for his willingness to compromise by giving examples of his “bipartisanship,” where he did just what conservatives wanted and had argued for as the right thing to do: cutting taxes and eliminating regulations. Here is Obama:

Understand, despite what you hear from my opponent, this has never been a vision about how government creates jobs or has the answers to all our problems. Over the last three years, I’ve cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600. I’ve cut taxes for small businesses 18 times. I have approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.”

Conservatives talk endlessly about “cutting spending.” The president uses the same frame: “I’ve signed a law that cuts spending and reduces our deficit by $2 trillion.

Language is important here, as well as policy. “Spending” is a conservative term; it suggests a needless draining of financial resources, a waste of money. But most of that money was “invested” in our people or used to maintain our infrastructure — not just “spent”. Though a tax reduction for working families may very well have been a good idea, the term “cutting taxes” is a conservative term, suggesting that taxes in general are bad and should be “cut.”

There is of course a deeper problem here. Anyone this me-too-conservatism might appeal to would most likely vote for a real conservative over Obama.

Third, in his speech, the president gives a long list of perfectly reasonable policies: ending oil subsidies, investing in education, hiring more teachers and pay them better, not deporting young immigrants, investing in clean energy, encouraging energy innovation, supporting R&D tax credits, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, reforming the tax code, eliminating tax breaks for businesses that ship jobs overseas, strengthening Medicare and Medicaid, and so on.

No such list is going to be remembered by most of those who heard it. Moreover, what is said first matters; it sets the moral frame. In his speech, Obama first repeats the Romney frames, opposes them to numbers and policy lists, and only at the end talks about his own moral vision.

What could Obama have done better?

Frame everything from his own moral perspective, including Romney’s positions and assumptions. Avoid the Romney language. Start with his own moral position, which he stated beautifully in his 2008 campaign but has since dropped: That democracy is based on empathy (citizens caring about fellow citizens), responsibility both for oneself and others, and an ethic of excellence (doing one’s best not just for oneself, but for one’s family, community, and country).

What else?

Repeat the truth that The Private depends on The Public. It is The Public that provides economic freedom. Give a vision of responsible, progressive business. Talk freedom — as well as fairness. Point out that the hoarding of wealth by the 1 percent kills opportunity, as Joseph Stieglitz has discussed at length. Speak of an “Economy for All — not just rich bankers, managers, and job killers like private equity firms.” Yes, Romney and those like him are job killers. Say it. Point out that during the economic recovery of 2010, 93 percent of the additional income went to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers. Stop using “top” to mean rich. “Top” suggests high morality, merit, and ability. “Bottom” signifies the opposite.

We are now in a situation where conservatives have framed almost every issue. The least Democrats can do is to refuse to repeat their language and so help them.

We could go on, and we do in The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, and on The Little Blue Blog www.littleblueblog.org. Click on it now for a first visit.

George Lakoff is the author of Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate‘ (Chelsea Green). He is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a Senior Fellow of the Rockridge Institute.


Emphasis Mine

see:

Romney Tells The GOP He Is The Hero Who Will Destroy Social Security

Willard, like nearly all conservatives, also parrots the fallacy that Social Security is adding to the nation’s debt, but in accordance with the Trust’s rules, Social Security is forbidden from taking one penny from the government for administrative costs or benefit payments. It is a self-sufficient program that not only works well, but is extremely popular.

From: Politicususa

By:

“Human beings are fortunate that one function of memory is to forget the enormous amount of data a person absorbs throughout their lifetime. Important events are often difficult to forget and they either become valuable life lessons or unhealthy obsessions that if left unresolved become a grudge that gives a vindictive person a reason to hold something against someone. Conservatives have held a grudge against Progressives and FDR over the New Deal and especially the creation of the Social Security Trust, and they are obsessed with destroying the most successful and popular program in the nation’s history.

In 2010, George W. Bush said his greatest failure was not privatizing Social Security even though doing so in 2005 would have left tens-of-millions of retired Americans without security in their old age after the stock market crashed in 2008. Bush’s regret at not destroying Social Security when he had the opportunity informs the level of contempt conservatives have for the American people and it seemed that Republicans learned their lesson, but their obsession with the New Deal prevents them from learning. Perhaps Republicans are competing with each other to be the conservative hero that gets even with Progressives for creating Social Security, and if presidential hopeful Willard “Mitt” Romney wins the nomination and presidency, he promises to be the hero that destroys Social Security.

Romney resorts to every conservative hero’s tactic of lying to promote an agenda that harms millions of Americans. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Romney resorted to lying to promote privatizing Social Security. Willard said, “We’re going to have to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable and we can’t afford to avoid these entitlement challenges any longer.” It is a typical Republican lie that Bush used in 2005, and the truth is that without any adjustments, Social Security will remain solvent for the next thirty years or more. Romney also lied when he said current retirees would not see a change in their benefits under his plan. During the same speech, Romney promised to  increase defense spending, give the wealthiest 1% approximately $6.7 trillion in tax cuts,  and slash “entitlement” spending that surely includes Medicare and Social Security as part of his balanced budget farce.

Then there is this recurring “Social Security is an entitlement” meme that Republicans use to portray the program as welfare. Every working American pays 6.2% of every dollar they earn into the Social Security Trust. The rate decreased by 1% as part of President Obama’s payroll tax holiday except for wealthy Americans like Romney who pays on only the first .5% of his income because his earnings exceed the current $110,100 cap. If Romney is concerned that Social Security is in jeopardy of running out of funds, his Republican pals can eliminate the cap on payroll tax contributions and keep the Trust bloated with cash forever. Every other American pays Social Security tax on 100% of their income and with the median income at $49,909, over 90% of Americans would never reach the cap limit.

Romney just wants to transfer approximately $2.7 trillion in surplus assets in the Social Security Trust Fund to Wall Street to enrich himself and other high-income investors. A typical conservative ploy to convince Americans Social Security does not work is to label it a failure and a fraud and Romney said, “To put it in a nutshell, the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their Social Security,” and that there is a “looming bankruptcy of Social Security.” Willard just doesn’t get that Social Security is popular with nearly every American (especially older tea party-supporting white voters) because it works and that is one reason why he is losing popularity by the second. Willard, like nearly all conservatives, also parrots the fallacy that Social Security is adding to the nation’s debt, but in accordance with the Trust’s rules, Social Security is forbidden from taking one penny from the government for administrative costs or benefit payments. It is a self-sufficient program that not only works well, but is extremely popular.

Republicans are so consumed with hatred for the New Deal that produced Social Security, that 76 years after its creation they are still attempting to dismantle the only retirement income for millions of Americans as well as the largest insurance program for children. The program has never failed to pay out benefits on schedule, and the surplus is invested in U.S. Treasury securities that are considered the safest investment in the world. More than anything, Social Security provides a measure of security that Wall Street can never match, but that doesn’t stop conservatives from lying about the system to garner support for eliminating it. Romney is not the first conservative to promote privatizing or eliminating Social Security and he will not be the last.

Romney is out-of-touch with America and out of touch with reality if he thinks he will ever convince Americans to allow him to take their hard-earned retirement savings and offer it up to his god Wall Street. It is a mystery why Republicans cannot recognize that despite their lies, misinformation, and scare tactics, Americans do not want Social Security privatized. It is telling that Bush laments not privatizing Social Security even though doing so would have left millions of Americans without income in their golden years, and it is a testament to the man’s vile contempt for Americans. Romney is worse than Bush. He is also stupider because his desire to be the conservative hero that dismantles the New Deal is taking the same path that began Bush’s popularity slide.

If Romney wants to raid programs to enrich Wall Street and his investor cohorts, he can return to Bain Capital and destroy struggling businesses because Americans will never allow him near the White House. As one pundit said, “There is a reason you are having serious trouble in primaries and caucuses in states where older white voters reside in disproportionately large numbers, such as Missouri, Maine (almost losing to Ron Paul?) and Minnesota.”  Romney will continue having trouble with Americans and it is a good lesson that holding a grudge is about as good of an idea as trying to be a hero for a losing cause; especially when the cause is dismantling the New Deal.””

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.politicususa.com/en/social-security-romney