Last week I was getting annoyed at the unrelenting Republican bashing of the stimulus package, now I just find it pathetic. They really don’t have anything else to hold on to do they? I mean, this is it.
It’s tragic when a well-crafted mythology falls apart. Not so much for the society at large, but for the adherents of the mythology. The “tax cuts now, tax cuts forever” wing of the Republican party has been laid bare. They’re writhing on the ground like a screaming toddler, intent on holding on to their now defunct mythology.
Take a look at this post from firedoglake. While there’s no doubt that Reagan cut taxes in 1982, the mythology of the Republican Party believes that Reagan NEVER raised taxes, and also cut government spending. This is an inaccurate representation of Reagan’s record.
As the article shows, Reagan “raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84.”, and increased the number of federal employees by 61,000, thus expanding government, AND, effectively tripled the national debt (from 1980 to 1990 the federal debt increased from $.93t to $3.23t(Source)). Read the rest of the quoted article and you will find that in Reagan’s second term he raised taxes on corporations, after stating “”there is no justification” for taxing corporate income” some $420b. Tax and spend anyone?
Ahh, but we don’t remember such things these days. The Reagan mythology of the great tax cutter, the great bastion of supply side economics, has been pounded into our brains for so long that conventional wisdom has taken over reality.
So, what do you do when the facts don’t support the myth? Repeat the myth ad infinitum!
The truth of the matter isn’t that Republican objections to the stimulus package aren’t rooted in any real policy difference. Republicans have been burning through deficit money like a trust fund baby since the 80’s. No the objection is that it’s not being spent where Republicans want it spent, and under Republican leadership that would serve to maintain the mythology they’ve so carefully crafted over the past 30 years.
Let’s look, once again, at the facts. Republicans want tax cuts, they get $255b in tax cuts, nearly the same amount of Bush’s first cut the EGTRRA. Taken all together, both the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA and the current stimulus plan have lowered tax revenues immensely, but had little effect on the economy at large.
The biggest thing that brought the economic “boom” from 2003-2006 was a monetary policy that made money cheap, and a white hot housing market. The problem, Bush’s boom was a bubble, and when it popped, unlike the .com bubble of the late 90’s, it rippled through the entire financial system in ways that few, outside of the financial services industry, could imagine.
What is needed is sustainable and equitable growth. I’m not sure that the current stimulus package actually does that for the long term, but I know for sure that tax cuts alone will not. Further, the speed at which the tax cuts in the current bill would arrive in the economy may or may not be fast enough to stop the dramatic slide we’ve seen over the past several months. The spending, on the other hand, will.
If individuals and corporations do not want to spend money, it’s incumbent on government to pick up the slack to get people working again. Republican’s are calling the current bill pork, because they call EVERYTHING that is outside their narrow spending worldview pork. Pork is only pork if it’s unnecessary (Bridge to Nowhere anyone?). Building up infrastructure that has long been ignored is not pork, it’s insurance against potential failure.
It’s time for the Republicans in Congress to listen to Republican Governors, who widely support the measure currently before them. Your mythology is dying. It’s time to be a part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem by clinging to a mythology that has long since past it’s prime.