Ten things the GOP Doesn’t want you to know about the debt!

the inconvenient truth that the nation’s mounting debt is largely attributable to wars, a recession and tax policies put in place under his party’s watch.

From perspectives see:http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/002215.htm

(N.B.: the author of this blog observes that the correct way to describe the results under each POTUS administration is to add the qualifying word ‘administration’  (and perhaps the definite article ‘the’) to each usage, e.g.: the Clinton administration – the POTUS signs laws passed by both houses.)

“Just two weeks after he seconded Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s dire warnings about the August 2 deadline to raise the U.S debt ceiling, House Majority LeaderEric Cantor walked out of the budget talks aimed at reaching a bipartisan compromise over deficit reduction. Like Arizona GOP Senator Jon Kyl, Cantor shifted the burden to Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell and President Obama to “get over this impasse on taxes.”

For his part, McConnell promised that no deal to end the GOP’s hostage taking of the U.S. economy will include tax hikes. But while McConnell boasted that “If they couldn’t raise taxes when they owned the government, you know they can’t get it done now,” left unsaid was the inconvenient truth that the nation’s mounting debt is largely attributable to wars, a recession and tax policies put in place under his party’s watch.

Here, then, are 10 things the GOP doesn’t want you to know about the debt:

  1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a “Financial Disaster”
  2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
  3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
  4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
  5. Federal Taxes Are Now at a 60 Year Low
  6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn’t Pay for Themselves or Spur “Job Creators”
  7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
  8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling – Repeatedly
  9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
  10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid

1. Republican Leaders Agree U.S. Default Would Be a “Financial Disaster”
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty are among the GOP luminaries who have joined the ranks of what Dana Milbank called the “default deniers.” But you don’t have to take Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s word for it “that if Congress doesn’t agree to an increase in the debt limit by August 2, the United States will be forced to default on its debt, potentially spreading panic and collapse across the globe.” As it turns out, Republican leaders (and their big business backers) have said the same thing.

In their few moments of candor, Republican leaders expressed agreement with Tim Geithner’s assessment that default by the U.S. “would have a catastrophic economic impact that would be felt by every American.” The specter of a global financial cataclysm has been described as resulting in “severe harm” (McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi), “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world” (Senator Lindsey Graham) and “you can’t not raise the debt ceiling” (House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan). In January, even Speaker John Boehner acknowledged as much:

“That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on election day said, ‘we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.’ And you can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.”

2. Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt
Among the Republicans who prophesied the default doomsday scenario was none other than conservative patron saint, Ronald Reagan. As he warned Congress in November 1983:

“The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar.”

Reagan knew what he was talking about. (N.B. Really?  Only by accident). After all, the hemorrhage of red ink at the U.S. Treasury was his doing.

As most analysts predicted, Reagan’s massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-setting debt. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous “rosy scenarios.”

Forced to raise taxes eleven times to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It’s no wonder Stockman lamented last year:

[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.”

It’s no wonder the Gipper cited the skyrocketing deficits he bequeathed to America as his greatest regret.

3. George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt
Following in Reagan’s footsteps, George W. Bush buried the myth of Republican fiscal discipline.

Inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast for a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Bill Clinton. Bush’s $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a $550 billion second round in 2003, accounted for the bulk of the yawning budget deficits he produced. (It is more than a little ironic that Paul Ryan ten years ago called the tax cuts “too small” because he believed the estimated surplus Bush eviscerated would be even larger.)

Like Reagan and Stockman before him, Bush resorted to the rosy scenario to claim he would halve the budget deficit by 2009. Before the financial system meltdown last fall, Bush’s deficit already reached $490 billion. (And even before the passage of the Wall Street bailout, Bush had presided over a $4 trillion increase in the national debt, a staggering 71% jump.) By January 2009, the mind-numbing deficit figure reached $1.2 trillion, forcing President Bush to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion.

4. Republicans Voted Seven Times to Raise Debt Ceiling for President Bush
“Reagan,” Vice President Dick Cheney famously declared in 2002, “proved deficits don’t matter.” Not, that is, unless a Democrat is in the White House.

As Donny Shaw documented in January 2010, Republican intransigence on the debt ceiling only began in earnest when Bush left the White House for good.

The Republicans haven’t always been against increasing the federal debt ceiling. This is the first time in recent history (the past decade or so) that no Republican has voted for the increase. In fact, on most of the ten other votes to increase the federal debt limit that the Senate has taken since 1997, the Republicans provided the majority of the votes in favor.

As it turns out, Republican majorities voted to raise the U.S. debt ceiling seven times while George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office. (It should be noted, as Ezra Kleindid, that party-line votes on debt ceiling increases tied to other legislation is not solely the province of the GOP.) As ThinkProgress pointed out, during the Bush presidency, the current GOP leadership team voted 19 times to increase debt limit. During his tenure, the U.S. national debt doubled, fueled by the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the Medicare prescription drug plan and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Mitch McConnell and John Boehner voted for all of it and the debt which ensued because, as Orrin Hatch later explained:

“It was standard practice not to pay for things.”

5. Federal Taxes Now at a 60 Year Low
Even as Vice President Biden leads bipartisan negotiations to trim at least $1 trillion from the national debt, Republican leaders faithfully regurgitate the refrain that tax increases are “off the table.” In one form or another, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and just about every other conservative mouthpiece parroted Speaker John Boehner’s line that:

“Medicare, Medicaid – everything should be on the table, except raising taxes.”

Which purely by the numbers (if not ideology) is an odd position to take. After all, as a percentage of the U.S. economy, the total federal tax bite hasn’t been this low in 60 years.

As the chart representing President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal above reflects, the American tax burden hasn’t been this low in generations. Thanks to the combination of the Bush Recession and the latest Obama tax cuts, the AP reported, “as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.” In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explained that “revenues would be just under 15 percent of GDP; levels that low have not been seen since 1950.” That finding echoed an earlier analysis from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last April, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded, “Middle-income Americans are now paying federal taxes at or near historically low levels, according to the latest available data.” As USA Today reported last May, the BEA data debunked yet another right-wing myth:

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Or as former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett explained it this week the New York Times:

In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010. Yet if one listens to Republicans, one would think that taxes have never been higher, that an excessive tax burden is the most important constraint holding back economic growth and that a big tax cut is exactly what the economy needs to get growing again.

6. Bush Tax Cuts Didn’t Pay for Themselves or Spur “Job Creators”
That Republican intransigence persists despite the complete debunking of two of the GOP’s favorite myths.

The first tried and untrue Republican talking point is that “tax cuts pay for themselves.” Sadly, that right-wing mythmaking is belied by the massive Bush deficits, half of which (as the CBPP chart in section 3 above shows} were the result of the Bush tax cuts themselves. As a percentage of the American economy, tax revenues peaked in 2000; that is, before the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Despite President Bush’s bogus claim that “You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase,” Uncle Sam’s cash flow from individual income taxes did not return to its pre-dot com bust level until 2006.

The second GOP fairy tale, as expressed by Speaker Boehner, is that “The top one percent of wage earners in the United States…pay forty percent of the income taxes…The people he’s {President Obama] is talking about taxing are the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy.”

If so, the Republican’s so-called “Job Creators” failed to meet those expectations under George W. Bush. After all, the last time the top tax rate was 39.6% during the Clinton administration, the United States enjoyed rising incomes, 23 million new jobs and budget surpluses. Under Bush? Not so much.

On January 9, 2009, the Republican-friendly Wall Street Journal summed it up with an article titled simply, “Bush on Jobs: the Worst Track Record on Record.” (The Journal’s interactive table quantifies his staggering failure relative to every post-World War II president.) The dismal 3 million jobs created under President Bush didn’t merely pale in comparison to the 23 million produced during Bill Clinton’s tenure. In September 2009, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee charted Bush’s job creation disaster, the worst since Hoover:

As David Leonhardt of the New York Times aptly concluded last year:

Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.

7. Ryan Budget Delivers Another Tax Cut Windfall for Wealthy
Looking at that dismal performance, Leonhardt rightly asked, “Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth?” At a time ofrecord income inequality which saw the incomes of the richest 400 Americans taxpayers double even as their tax rates were halved, that’s a fair question to say the least.

For Paul Ryan and the Republican Party, the answer is simple: because we said so.

As Ezra KleinPaul Krugman and Steve Benen among others noted, the House Republicans “Plan for America’s Job Creators” is simply a repackaging of years of previous proposals and GOP bromides. (As Klein pointed out, the 10 page document “looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.”) At the center of it is the same plan from the Ryan House budget passed in April to cut the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25%.

The price tag for the Republican proposal is a jaw-dropping $4.2 trillion. And as Matthew Yglesias explained, earlier analyses of similar proposals in Ryan’s Roadmap reveal that working Americans would have to pick up the tab left unpaid by upper-income households:

This is an important element of Ryan’s original “roadmap” plan that’s never gotten the attention it deserves. But according to a Center for Tax Justice analysis (PDF), even though Ryan features large aggregate tax cuts, ninety percent of Americans would actually pay higher taxes under his plan.In other words, it wasn’t just cuts in middle class benefits in order to cut taxes on the rich. It was cuts in middle class benefits and middle class tax hikes in order to cut taxes on the rich. It’ll be interesting to see if the House Republicans formally introduce such a plan and if so how many people will vote for it.

We now know the answer: 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators.

8. Ryan Budget Will Require Raising Debt Ceiling – Repeatedly
Largely overlooked in the media coverage of the Republican debt ceiling hostage drama is this: those 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators who supported Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget bill voted to add $6 trillion to the U.S. national debt over the next decade. And that means, as Speaker John Boehner acknowledged, Republicans now and in the future would have to increase the debt ceiling – repeatedly.

Of course, you’d never know that based on the incendiary rhetoric from the leading lights of the Republican Party and their right-wing echo chamber. Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) said his vote to bump up the debt ceiling would come at the cost of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, “the last time we’re doing it.” His South Carolina colleague Jim Demint threatened to filibuster the increase, even if it meant the GOP’s “Waterloo.” The number two House Republican Eric Cantor (R-VA) regurgitated that line, telling Democrats the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.” For his part, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan insisted, “We won’t raise, just simply raise, the debt limit,” adding, “We will vote to have spending cuts and controls in conjunction with the debt limit increase.” As giddy right-wing bloggers like Patterico described the right-wing’s scorched earth strategy:

If Republicans are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling — and not to do so will indeed cause financial chaos — they have to extract concessions sufficient that they can credibly say: this is the last such vote we will ever have to have.

Sadly, as Ezra Klein of the Washington Post explained last month, “Republicans can’t meet their own deficit and spending targets.” The Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, slash and convert Medicaid into block grants, and deliver another tax-cut windfall for the wealthy nevertheless “blows through both their spending and debt caps”:

House Republicans voted to make the Ryan budget law. But the Ryan budget includes $6 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years, which means that to become law, the Ryan budget would require a substantial increase in the debt ceiling. But before the Republicans agree to increase the debt ceiling so that the budget they passed can become law, Republicans are demanding the passage of either a balanced budget amendment that would make the Ryan budget unconstitutional or a spending cap that the Ryan budget would, in certain years (and if you’re using more realistic numbers, in all years), exceed.

It’s no wonder Klein’s Washington Post colleague Matt Miller deemed the Republican budgetary horror story “The Shining – National Debt Edition” before concluding that Boehner’s “awe-inspiring hypocrisy on the debt limit” is one of those moments of “political behavior that can only be dubbed Super-Duper Hypocrisy So Brazen They Must Really Think We’re Idiots.”

9. Tax Cuts Drive the Next Decade of Debt
“President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying,” the New York Times’ David Leonhardt explained in 2009, adding, “The economic growth under George W. Bush did not generate nearly enough tax revenue to pay for his agenda, which included tax cuts, the Iraq war, and Medicare prescription drug coverage.” That fall, former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett offered just that kind of honesty to the born again deficit virgins of his Republican Party. Noting that the FY2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion was solely due to lower tax revenues and not increased spending, Bartlett concluded:

“I think there are grounds on which to criticize the Obama administration’s anti-recession actions. But spending too much is not one of them. Indeed, based on this analysis, it is pretty obvious that spending – real spending on things like public works – has been grossly inadequate. The idea that Reagan-style tax cuts would have done anything is just nuts.”

Which is exactly right. Thanks to the steep recession, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others have documented time and again, the overall federal tax burden as a percentage of GDP is now down to levels not seen since Harry Truman was in the White House. (The two-year tax cut compromise in December didn’t help any, adding $400 billion to the deficit this year and next.) But is the Bush tax cuts themselves, which Republicans want to make permanent and then (as the Ryan budget mandates) lower further, which account for much of the revenue drain into the future.

As a recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed, over the next decade the Bush tax cuts account for more of the nation’s debt than Iraq, Afghanistan, TARP, the stimulus, and revenue lost to the recession combined:

10. $3 Trillion Tab for Unfunded Wars Remains Unpaid
Over the next ten years, the costs of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will decline as the U.S. commitments there come to an end. But almost ten years, 6,000 U.S. dead and over a trillion dollars after the attacks of September 11, it’s time to pay for our wars.

In May, the National Journal estimated that the total cost to the U.S. economy of the war against Al Qaeda will reach $3 trillion. In 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economistJoseph Stiglitz put the price of the Iraq conflict alone at $3 trillion.

But by 2020 and beyond, the direct cost to U.S. taxpayers could reach $3 trillion. In March, the Congressional Research Service put the total cost of the wars at $1.28 trillion, including $806 billion for Iraq and $444 billion for Afghanistan. For the 2012 fiscal year which begins on October 1, President Obama asked for $117 billion more. (That war-fighting funding is over and above Secretary Gates’ $553 billion Pentagon budget request for next year.)

But in addition to the roughly $1.5 trillion tally for both conflicts through the theoretical 2014 American draw down date in Afghanistan, the U.S. faces staggering bills for veterans’ health care and disability benefits. Last May, an analysis by the Center for American Progress estimated the total projected total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ health care and disability could reach between $422 billion to $717 billion. Reconstruction aid and other development assistance represent tens of billions more, as does the additional interest on the national debt. And none of the above counts the expanded funding for the new Department of Homeland Security.

But that two-plus trillion dollar tab doesn’t account for the expansion of the United States military since the start of the “global war on terror.” As a percentage of the American economy, defense spending jumped from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.8% last year. While ThinkProgress noted that the Pentagon’s FY 2012 ask is “the largest request ever since World War II,” McClatchy explained:

Such a boost would mark the 14th year in a row that Pentagon spending has increased, despite the waning U.S. presence in Iraq. In dollars, Pentagon spending has more than doubled in 10 years. Even adjusted for inflation, the Defense Department budget has risen 65% in the past decade.

Even as the World Trade Center site was still smoldering, Republicans insisted Al Qaeda represented an existential threat to the United States. President Bush repeatedly compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor and his war on terror to World War II. But he never asked Americans to join the military or sacrifice at home. Instead, Bush told us to go shopping and “get down to Disney World.”

From a public policy standpoint, post-9/11 America in no way resembles FDR’s response to Pearl Harbor. George W. Bush was the first modern president to cut taxes during wartime. Barack Obama was the second.

Its time, as Bernie SandersAl Franken and the Congressional Progressive Caucus each proposed, to begin paying for the unfunded conflicts fought in our name.”

Emphasis Mine

Some Taxes are Too Low!

One cannot complain about negative cash flow when they ignore the opportunity to increase revenue.

One cannot complain about negative cash flow when they ignore the opportunity to increase revenue.  (CFP)

From Portside:

“Why I’m Right About Raising Taxes on the Very Rich.

By Robert Reich
www.robertreich.org
February 15, 2011

http://robertreich.org/

My proposal to raise the marginal tax to 70 percent on
incomes over $15 million, to 60 percent on incomes between $5
million and $15 million, and to 50 percent on incomes between
$500,000 and $5 million, has generated considerable debate.
Some progressives think it’s pie-in-the-sky. Here, for
example, is Andrew Leonard, a staff writer for Salon:

A 70 percent tax bracket for the richest Americans is
pure fantasy – even suggesting it represents such a
fundamental disconnect with the world as it exists today
that it is hard to see why it should be taken seriously.
I would be deeply worried about the sanity of a
Democratic president who proposed such a thing.

Fantasy? I don’t know Mr. Leonard’s age but perhaps he could
be forgiven for not knowing that between the late 1940s and
1980 America’s highest marginal rate averaged above 70
percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower it was
91 percent. Not until the 1980s under Ronald Reagan was it slashed
28 percent.

Incidentally, during these years the nation’s pre-tax income
was far less concentrated at the top than it is now. In the
mid-1970s, for example, the top 1 percent got around 9
percent of total income. By 2007, they got 23.5 percent. So
if anything, the argument for a higher marginal tax should be
even more realistic now than it was during the days when it
was taken for granted.

A disconnect with the world as it exists today? That’s
exactly the point of proposing it. For years progressives
have whined that Democratic presidents (Clinton, followed by
Obama) compromise with Republicans while Republican
presidents (Reagan through W) stand their ground – with the
result that the center of political debate has moved steadily
rightward. That’s the reason the world exists the way it does
today. Isn’t it about time progressives had the courage of
our conviction and got behind what we believe in, in the hope
of moving the debate back to where it was?

Would a Democratic president be insane to propose such a
thing? Not at all. In fact, polls show an increasing portion
of the electorate angry with an insider “establishment” – on
Wall Street, in corporate suites, and in Washington – that’s
been feathering its nest at the expense of the public. The
Tea Party is but one manifestation of a widening perception
that the game is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful.

More importantly, it will soon become evident to most
Americans that the only way to reduce the budget deficit,
preserve programs deemed essential by the middle class, and
not raise taxes on the middle, is to tax the top.

In fact, a Democratic president should propose a major
permanent tax reduction on the middle class and working
class. I suspect most of the public would find this
attractive. But here again, the only way to accomplish this
without busting the bank is to raise taxes on the rich.

Republicans have done a masterful job over the last thirty
years convincing the public that any tax increase on the top
is equivalent to a tax increase on everyone – selling the
snake oil of “trickle down economics” and the patent lie that
most middle-class people will eventually become millionaires.
A Democratic president would do well to rebut these
falsehoods by proposing a truly progressive tax.

Will the rich avoid it? Other critics of my proposal say
there’s no way to have a truly progressive tax because the
rich will always find ways to avoid it by means of clever
accountants and tax attorneys. But this argument proves too
much. Regardless of where the highest marginal tax rate is
set, the rich will always manage to reduce what they owe.
During the 1950s, when it was 91 percent, they exploited
loopholes and deductions that as a practical matter reduced
the effective top rate 50 to 60 percent. Yet that’s still
substantial by today’s standards. The lesson is government
should aim high, expecting that well-paid accountants will
reduce whatever the rich owe.

Besides, the argument that the nation shouldn’t impose an
obligation on the rich because they can wiggle out of it is
an odd one. Taken to its logical extreme it would suggest we
allow them to do whatever antisocial act they wish – grand
larceny, homicide, or plunder – because they can always
manage to avoid responsibility for it.

Some critics worry that if the marginal tax is raised too
high, the very rich will simply take their money to a more
hospitable jurisdiction. That’s surely possible. Some already
do. But paying taxes is a central obligation of citizenship.
Those who take their money abroad in an effort to avoid
paying American taxes should lose their American citizenship.

Finally, there are some who say my proposal doesn’t stand a
chance because the rich have too much political power. It’s
true that as income and wealth have moved to the top,
political clout has risen to the top as well.

But to succumb to cynicism about the possibility of
progressive change because of the power of those at the top
is to give up the battle before it’s even started.”

Emphasis Mine.

___________________________________________

The Myths about Ronald Reagan, and why they are important to the GOP.

In summary, the Reagan years were ones of opportunities lost: at the end of the day, we had a weaker economy, a much greater national debt, a neglected infrastructure, were even more dependent on foreign oil, and were less secure.

The Myths

  • Fixed the economy – by cutting taxes.
  • Won the Cold war – by expanding our military.
  • Intimidated the Soviets – by ‘Star Wars’ missile defense system.

THE FACTS:

Economy

  • National Debt went from $1.8 trillion to $3.8 trillion.
  • Unemployment by year: 5.8, 7.1, 7.6. 9.7, 9.6, 7.5, 7.2, 7.0, 6.2.
  • GDP from   $5.5 trillion to $7.1 trillion.
  • Industries which gained included weapons, electronics, computers.
  • Primary metals, automotive, and many core industries contracted: a plus for the NorthEast, California, and the sunbelt states; a minus for the great lakes states.
  • The US went from a creditor nation to a debtor nation.

Soviets

In 1980, what was the biggest security and economic threat to the US? Dependence on imported oil, esp. from the Middle East. (As today).

  • Soviet Military spending in fact declined in the 1980’s.
  • The difference between George Lucas’ “Star Wars’ and Reagan’s is that the Lucas version was closer to reality.
  • The US was in a much superior weapon systems/military situation, but Reagan  did not use it to negotiate an advantage over Soviet Russia.

Cold War

  • What was the ‘cold war’? A standoff between the USA that lasted from the end of WWII to the collapse of the Soviet state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War
  • When did it end? 1991  (Post Reagan).
  • Who won? Japan: industry; education; infrastructure, not weapons.

An Alternative History

  • Prepare for post cold war world: by spending on industry; education; and infrastructure ,not weapons.
  • Assist basic industries,e.g.:auto; steel; rubber.
  • Reduce dependence on imported oil, benefiting domestic jobs, national security, and the environment.

In summary, the Reagan years were ones of opportunities lost: at the end of the day, we had a weaker economy, a much greater national debt, a neglected infrastructure, were even more dependent on foreign oil, and were less secure.

see: http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2011020504/revisiting-reagan-nightmare

also: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2011/02/04/ST2011020403674.html?hpid=topnews

and: http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/102-102/4859-ronald-reagan-enabler-of-atrocities

and:http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2011020501/reagan-ruins

and:http://www.thenation.com/article/158321/reagans-real-legacy


Conservatism’s Drown’s to Death in Oil

George Lakoff

Author, The Political Mind, Moral Politics, Don’t Think of an Elephant! posted: July 16, 2010 09:00 AM

The issue is death –– death gushing at ten thousand pounds per square inch from a mile below the sea, tens of thousands of barrels of death a day. Not just death to eleven human beings. Death to sea birds, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, oyster beds, shrimp, beaches; death to the fishing industry, tourism, jobs; and death to a way of life based on the beauty and bounty of the Gulf.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and that conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf. Conservatism is an ideology of death.

It was conservative laissez-faire free market ideology — that maximizing profit comes first — that led to:

  • The corrupt relationship between the oil companies and the Interior Department staff that was supposedly regulating them
  • Minimizing cost by not drilling relief wells
  • The principle that oil companies could be responsible their own risk assessments on drilling
  • Maximizing profit by outsourcing risk assessment that told them what they wanted to hear: zero risk!
  • Maximizing profit by minimizing cost of materials
  • Maximizing profit by failing to pay cleanup crews and businesses for their losses
  • Focusing only on profit by failing to test the cleanup methods to be used if something went wrong
  • Minimizing cost by sacrificing the health of cleanup crews, refusing to allow them to use respirator masks to protect against toxic fumes.

It is conservative profit-above-all market fundamentalism that has led other oil companies to mount a massive PR campaign to isolate BP as an anomalous “bad actor” and to argue that offshore drilling should be continued by the self-proclaimed “good actors.” Their PR fails to mention that in Congressional hearings it came out that they all outsource risk assessment to the same company that declared that BP had “zero risk.” The PR fails to mention that they all use cost-benefit analysis to maximize profits just as BP did. Cost-benefit analysis only looks at monetary costs versus benefits, case by case, not at the risk of massive death of the kind gushing out of the Gulf at present. Death, in itself, even at that scale, is not a “cost.” Only an outflow of money is a “cost.” This is what follows from conservative laissez-faire market ideology, an ideology that continues to sanction death on a Gulf scale.

But the facts won’t make a difference to dyed-in the-wool conservatives, since the facts will be filtered through their ideological frames: when the facts don’t fit the frames, the facts will be ignored.

he conservative worldview says man has dominion over nature: nature is there for human monetary profit. Profit is sanctioned over the possibility of massive death and destruction in nature. Conservatives support even more dangerous drilling off the coast of Alaska and are working to repeal the President’s moratorium on deep water drilling. Nature be damned; the oil companies have a right to make money, death or no death.

Directness of causation is a rarely noticed property of the conservative worldview. What are the causes of crime? Bad people, lock ’em up, say conservatives. There are no social or economic causes, that is, systemic causes, in the conservative universe. So it is with the Death Gusher. Blame BP, the “bad actor.” Look for the immediate cause, but don’t look any further, at the profit-above-all system in which all oil companies operate, a system idolized by conservatives. Without an understanding of systemic causes, the causes cited above won’t make much sense.

Progressives have been much too kind to conservatives on this matter. They have largely accepted the Bad Actor Frame, criticizing BP but not the whole industry and its practices. No one should be drilling miles under the sea, where oil comes out at 10,000 pounds per square inch. No matter how much profit is involved.

Conservatism gushes death — and not only in the Gulf of Mexico.

see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/conservatisms-death-gushe_b_646488.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=071610&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry

emphasis mine

The Reagan Revolution has come home to roost!

Watch what we do, not what we say.” (Famous Republican advice.)

The Reagan Revolution was first and foremost about cutting the taxes paid by the rich and corporations. Now, almost 30 years later, the United States of America is drowning in debt. And that is exactly what they wanted to happen.

The Plan

There were the reasons for the tax cuts Reagan said, and there was the plan Reagan had. Reagan SAID that there was this thing called the “Laugher” Curve that he said proved cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. But what they were saying was a smokescreen, something to tell the rubes. Increasing government revenue was the last thing Reagan and his cohorts wanted. They knew (and have since said so) cutting taxes would lead to terrible deficits. They called this a “strategic deficit.” This was the plan.

Bankrupting our government (We, the People) was the plan and today we can see that it was what they did. They didn’t want revenue to increase because the idea was to “starve the beast.” Reagan called it “cutting their allowance.”

The plan was that by cutting the funding for government, government would have to cut back on what it does: regulating business, protecting regular people against powerful interests, building infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly. With government (We, the People) out of the way businesses could be unleashed and really start to make money. And for those who could afford to pay, private companies would take over those other functions. That was called “privatization.”

Infrastructure? We had plenty of infrastructure back then – grab the cash now and worry about that later. (It’s later now.)

So taxes were cut. And immediately the budget went into deficit and the government started borrowing. The debt started to grow. That was the plan. They said so.

Conservatives well understood that the public was not behind their plan. This was why it was explained as a way to increase government revenue. “Watch what we do, not what we say” is about tricking the public – deceive people by telling them you are doing one thing while really doing another. They knew that if the public came to understand their plan they would all be voted out of office. The idea was to force the other party to make the cuts.

Every time someone did try to cut the public outcry was enormous. So they just kept borrowing, intentionally trying to make the debt get so bad that eventually the government would be faced with bankruptcy.

Clinton, for a time, foiled their plans. In 1993 there was a hard-fought battle to raise taxes at the top by just a small amount. Every Republican voted against it. The public was saturated with lie after lie about how this would destroy the economy. Of course, the economy boomed in the 1990s following the Clinton tax increases and by the end of Clinton’s term the government was paying off debt so quickly that Alan Greenspan called for Bush II to again cut taxes on the rich, saying it was dangerous to pay off the government debt – yes, the same Alan Greenspan who now says we have to get rid of Social Security to pay off debt. The plan.

Bush called restoration of deficits “incredibly positive news”

Seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration’s huge surplus — that was paying off our country’s debt at a rapid rate — and had instead forced the country to start borrowing heavily again. Bush said the huge deficit was “Incredibly positive news” because it will create “a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” That’s right, massive deficits were “incredibly positive news.” The plan.

Deficit Hawks Today

Now we’re experiencing part two of The Plan: use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. The deficit cutters insist that the government should cease investment in infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly and protecting regular people against powerful interests. First and foremost they want to cut Social Security. They blocked a reasonable health care plan in the name of “less spending.” They fight every effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs so that We, the People can get out of this unemployment emergency. (High unemployment puts tremendous wage pressure on the remaining workers.)

Are we going to fall for it? Are we going to walk right into part two of The Plan? Or are we going to restore the tax base, which is the lifeblood of democracy. Taxes on the wealthy and big corporations are what brings the ability of We, the People to control our own destiny instead of yielding always to the powerful interests.

This is the choice we are faced with. The “deficit hawks” are offering only The Plan. So far restoring the tax base back to where it was is off the table, not even to be discussed. Are we going to allow that? Or are We, the People going to fight back and demand that democracy be restored?

Previously: Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling and Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation.

see; http://www.truthout.org/reagan-revolution-home-roost-america-drowning-debt59819

emphasis mine

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Who is Obama?

When I hear Obama criticized, I state that one who journeyed from food stamps to editor of the Harvard Law Review must be both very intelligent and politically adept.

N.B.: When I hear Obama criticized, I state that one who journeyed from food stamps to editor of the Harvard Law Review must be both very intelligent and politically adept.

Ross Dothat, NY Times:

“Every presidency is the subject of competing caricatures. But almost a year into his first term, there’s something particularly elusive about Barack Obama’s political identity. He’s a bipartisan bridge-builder — unless he’s a polarizing ideologue. He’s a crypto-Marxist radical — except when he’s a pawn of corporate interests. He’s a post-American utopian — or else he’s a willing tool of the national security state.  The press has churned out a new theory every week,…

Obama baffles observers, I suspect, because he’s an ideologue and a pragmatist all at once. He’s a doctrinaire liberal who’s always willing to cut a deal and grab for half the loaf. He has the policy preferences of a progressive blogger, but the governing style of a seasoned Beltway wheeler-dealer.

This is a puzzling combination, for many, because we expect our politicians’ principles to align more neatly with their approach to governing. Our deal-making Machiavels are supposed to be self-conscious “centrists” (think Ben Nelson or Arlen Specter). Our ideological liberals and conservatives are supposed to be more concerned with being right than with being ruthlessly effective.

It’s also puzzling because Obama promised exactly the opposite approach while running for the presidency. He campaigned as a postpartisan healer who would change the cynical ways of Washington — as a foe of both back-room deals and ideology-as-usual. But he’s governed as a conventional liberal who believes in the existing system, knows how to work it and accepts the limitations it imposes on him.

In hindsight, the most prescient sentence penned during the presidential campaign belongs to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. “Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama,” he wrote in July 2008, “is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them.”

Both right and left have had trouble processing Obama’s institutionalism. Conservatives have exaggerated his liberal instincts into radicalism, ignoring the fact that a president who takes advice from Lawrence Summers and Robert Gates probably isn’t a closet Marxist-Leninist. The left has been frustrated, again and again, by the gulf between Obama’s professed principles and the compromises that he’s willing to accept, and some liberals have become convinced that he isn’t one of them at all.

They’re wrong. Absent political constraints, Obama would probably side with the liberal line on almost every issue. It’s just that he’s more acutely conscious of the limits of his powers and less willing to start fights that he might lose than many supporters would prefer. In this regard, he most resembles Ronald Reagan and Edward Kennedy. Both were highly ideological politicians who trained themselves to work within the system. Both preferred cutting deals to walking away from the negotiating table.

The upside of this approach is obvious: It gets things done. Between the stimulus package, the pending health care bill and a new raft of financial regulations, Obama will soon be able to claim more major legislative accomplishments than any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson….The downside, though, is that sometimes what gets done isn’t worth doing….

At the same time, Obama doesn’t enjoy the kind of deep credibility with his base that both Reagan and Kennedy spent decades building. When Kennedy told liberals that a given compromise was the best they could get, they believed him. Whether the issue is health care or Afghanistan, Obama’s word doesn’t carry the same weight.

This leaves him walking a fine line. If Obama’s presidency succeeds, it will be a testament to what ideology tempered by institutionalism can accomplish. But his political approach leaves him in constant danger of losing center and left alike — of being dismissed by independents as another tax-and-spender, and disdained by liberals as a sellout.”

(Emphasis Mine.)

see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/opinion/26douthat.html?_r=1&hp

Reagan and the Cold War

From alternet:Reagan was inspirational, but to claim he defeated Communism is a disservice to the millions of Eastern Europeans who struggled against great odds for their freedom.

“It was not the military might of NATO, but the power of nonviolent action by ordinary citizens which brought down the system. The popular uprising against the repressive system that had ruled their country for much of the previous four decades — along with comparable movements, which came to the fore that year in Poland, Hungary and East Germany — marks a great triumph of the human spirit.

These movements were largely led by democratic socialists who mobilized workers, church people, intellectuals, and others to face down the tanks with their bare hands. Yet here in the United States, we are told that it was a result of President Reagan’s militarism and the supposed inherent superiority of capitalism. It is this false narrative that has played such a major role in shifting discourse to the right in subsequent decades and has been used to discredit those struggling for a more just and egalitarian economic system and a more sane and less imperialistic foreign policy.

President Reagan’s verbal support for democracy had little credibility in many of these countries. For example, while he denounced Poland’s martial law regime, he was a strong supporter of the more repressive martial law regime then in power in NATO ally Turkey and scores of other dictatorships. In challenging left-wing governments in the Third World, Reagan gave little credence to nonviolent action and instead backed insurgents with ties to U.S.-backed dictatorships and — in the case of Afghanistan — even Islamic fundamentalists.While Reagan was certainly capable of inspirational leadership and personal charm, to claim that he is responsible for the downfall of Communism and the end of the Cold War is a disservice to the millions of Eastern Europeans and others who struggled against great odds for their freedom. For it was not American militarism, but massive nonviolent action — including strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations, and other forms of noncooperation — which finally brought down these Communist regimes. Indeed, the Charter 77 movement in Czechoslovakia and the Solidarity movement in Poland emerged during the period of U.S.-Soviet détente prior to Reagan taking office.”

N.B.: Who won the Cold War?  Japan won the cold war.

(Emphasis mine)

see: http://www.alternet.org/world/144069

Our “Liberal ” media

Did anyone know that President Bill Clinton received fellatio from a young female intern, Monica Lewinsky?  Of course not – our liberal media covered it up!

Did we know that the Bush administration lied about “weapons of mass destruction” as a justification for the invasion of Iraq?  Of course we did – our liberal media was all over it 7 x 24, and was opposed to the invasion from the start!

Why is it that Ronald Reagan is villified in the media for 8 years of deficit spending, with nothing to show for it?  It is because our liberal media is constantly on his case.

Anyone can tell small lies: it takes conservatives to tell really big ones!

In “Up from Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America”, by Michael Lind, the author lays out the Big Lies which have been the basis of right wing ideology:

Supply Side Economics – reducing taxes on the highest income levels – will benefit everyone.  Real purpose: help the wealthiest Americans.

America’s schools are failing.  Real purpose: to defund public education.

Unmarried pregnancies are highest among blacks.  Real purpose: to defund welfare.

The author covers other issues, such as racism.

Fortunately for our country, these lies have failed, sanity has been restored, and the GOP is becoming a party of Southern white males.

Who is crying now?

That may sound like a 1950’s pop song (slow dancing…), but in this case it describes the GOP talking about spending deficits.

Bernie Horn, of The Campaign for America’s future, writes in Truthout:”Here it comes – an avalanche of misleading and mistaken “facts” about President Obama’s budget.

Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees approved versions of the fiscal 2010 budget resolution, working from an extraordinary proposal by Barack Obama. The House version is fairly close to what the President proposed, while the Senate bill is a bit different – but still 98 percent of what the President requested. This week, the budget will come to the floor of the House and Senate, including votes on a series of amendments to slash or weaken progressive programs… The mud of fabrication and misinformation is so deep, we’ll have to peel it off in layers.

Huge Hypocrisy

First and foremost, conservatives are being supremely hypocritical about deficits and debt because their deficits caused the current national debt. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich and profligate military spending tripled the national debt. George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and war spending doubled the national debt. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the current debt – about which conservatives now bitterly complain – was caused by the three most recent conservative presidents: Reagan, Bush Senior, and Bush Junior.

Adding insult to injury, Republican budgets have been notorious for containing gimmicks designed to hide the full extent of their irresponsibility – the most egregious was funding the Iraq war with special appropriations outside of the budget.

This year, President Obama changed all that. His budget described a comprehensive plan covering 10 years. It included contingency funds that may or may not have to be spent. It was, quite simply, the most honest budget ever…three big lies about revenues. Obama is not “proposing the largest tax increase in history.” He is proposing to restore a measure of tax fairness by letting George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich expire next year. He is proposing to return to the tax policies that were in place during America’s great economic expansion of the late 1990s. Under the Obama program, only the rich will see their taxes increase – those with incomes over $250,000 per year. For all the rest of us, our tax rates will decline. In fact, Obama’s plan will deliver the largest middle-class tax cut in history.     Similarly, Obama’s plan is not “aimed at taxing small-business people.” This talking point is based on a fictional definition of a small businessperson invented by the Bush Administration… And I’ll bet you’re wondering, what is this “massive new national sales tax on your electric bill”? There is none. This is right-wing framing for the “cap-and-trade” system that experts insist is the only practical way to get a handle on global warming. This system forces companies to pay for their pollution, thereby encouraging clean, green technologies.

So to review the conservative tax trickery, the truth is that Obama’s budget delivers a substantial tax cut to 95 percent of Americans. The only ones who will see their taxes increase are the wealthy – and the corporate polluters!… If we spend to build the American economy, long-term deficits will go down. If we don’t spend, the recession will linger and deficits will skyrocket. It’s as simple as that.

And that brings us to the false argument that cutting the current budget is good for “our children.” If we don’t invest in our nation’s infrastructure, if we don’t restructure the pathetic economy handed down to us by George W. Bush and his conservative allies, if we don’t create a sustainable health care system, if we don’t take necessary steps to achieve energy independence and fight global warming – then we will be placing a terrible burden on our children. For them, and for us, we’ve got to change course, now….No doubt the GOP will offer one or more alternative budgets on the House and Senate floors later this week. No doubt they will be just like the alternative Republican stimulus packages in February – full of tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the rest of us.

The bottom line is: Conservatives caused this mess and now are running away from any responsibility for cleaning it up.”

——-

The writer is a Senior Fellow at Campaign for America’s Future and author of the recent book, “Framing the Future: How Progressive Values Can Win Elections and Influence People.”

see: http://www.truthout.org/033109R