One-note chorus in full throat
January 27, 2009 | Eighty-eight keys on the piano, and the Republicans play and sing only one of them. Such lack of imagination!
No matter what ails the economy, the Republicans say the solution is to cut taxes, preferably on those who least need a tax cut — the Über-rich. As a result of the tax-cutting frenzy of the Bush years, the rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer.
Not since the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century has the disparity between the rich and the rest of us been greater: "the top .01% or 14,000 American families hold 22.2% of wealth - the bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, just 4% of the nation's wealth" (PBS, Bill Moyer's Journal, citing the Wall Street Journal. The current era shows all the same hallmarks of the Gilded Age: crony capitalism, extreme inequalities in wealth and income, ostentatious spending and wage depression.
In the face of the current economic disaster, the GOP is singing the same song: Tax cuts, All you really need is tax cuts! House Republican leader John Boner (aka Boehner, R-OH) on Sunday's Meet the Press charged that the stimulus plan before Congress "is a lot of spending that I just don't think will work". He went on to argue for more tax cuts: "Let's allow American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn."
Separately, unsuccessful presidential candidate John McCain sang in harmony: "We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there'll be no new taxes. We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes."
As Paul Krugman pointed out in Sunday's op-ed in the NYTimes (26-Jan-2009), "nobody really believes that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending. Meanwhile, it's clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts - and therefore costs less per job created ... - because a large fraction of any tax cut will simply be saved."
Krugman used an anlogy to point out why this "let people keep more of what they earn" is so specious:
It implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.
The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.
The Republicans just don't seem to understand cause and effect, for it is precisely the irresponsible tax cutting of G.W.Bush that turned the nearly-balanced budget and projections of surpluses that he inherited from Bill Clinton into an economic and fiscal mess that has not been seen since the 1970s or the 1930s.
Republicans loudly rejected Keynesian economic thinking, particularly the idea that the state should stimulate economic growth and stability by controlling interest rates, taxation, and public spending. The free market will take care of itself, they said. We've seen how that worked out. The market does take care of itself, and the rest of us are on our own!
It's clear to me at least that the Republicans are scheming to try and roll the new president, taking advantage of his desire for bipartisanship to wring out more unwarranted concessions to their ideology.
I've often wondered why the Republicans don't experience cognitive dissonance, the unease and conflict that comes from holding two contradictory ideas at the same time. The born-again reverence for fiscal responsibility seems to coexist happily in their minds with the evidence of their own wanton irresponsibility for the past eight years. But now I think I understand: For cognitive dissonance to occur, there has to be cognition.
Last updated on Apr 13, 2018