Grand Old Sabotage
by David Atkins
Part of what is so frustrating about any conversation about the "deficit" is the obviousness of the lies being told. Conservatives have a decades-long strategy that they have telegraphed since the Goldwater years. It's not complicated, and everyone in politics knows about it:
- 1) Claim that jobs and economic growth depend on tax cuts, especially on the wealthy. Claim that any cuts will pay for themselves. Both of these are lies, and everyone serious in public policy knows it.
2) When revenues dwindle and deficits explode as they have under every Republican President since Nixon, blame "welfare" (a lie) and "spending" (another lie.)
3) Let Democrats be the ones to take responsible measures to bring deficits back under control by sacrificing their own programs. Don't take responsibility for "starving the beast": let Democrats do it instead, and then blame them for it.
4 When good economic times and minor tax boosts bring both the economy back to health and the deficit back in line, tell people that the government has too much money, and that they should "get more of their money back." This is an intentional strategy to drive up the deficit, forcing more cuts later.
That strategy isn't just politics. It amounts to direct economic sabotage--sabotage that everyone in politics and media knows is happening.
And it's happening again right in front of our faces. Twenty years ago a Democratic President was elected in poor economic conditions and saddled with a significant government deficit caused by Ronald Reagan's guns, butter and tax cuts policies. He wasn't perfect by any means, but he created good (if bubble-generated) economic conditions and the creation of federal budget surpluses. George Bush took those surpluses, convinced America to "get its money back", exploded the deficit with tax cuts mostly for the rich, squandered trillions on bungled and/or unnecessary wars, and helped crash the entire world economy.
Four years ago the nation elected a Democratic President whose primary job has been to save the economy from another Great Depression, while helping people's lives and reducing long-term budget problems. Healthcare reform itself was in large part an attempt to reduce budgetary woes arising from exploding healthcare costs. We had another election recently in which conservative ideas were rejected, and the President's approach reaffirmed by the American public.
Yet here we are again, held hostage to the same economic saboteurs using the same destructive tactics as they have for the last 40 years. And everyone paying attention knows about it.
The fact that everyone in the Village Media has bought into the deficit obsession as it were a real thing rather than simply the latest iteration of a decades-long tactic designed to further enrich the wealthy shows not just herd mentality and willful blindness. It shows a craven willingness to go along with direct economic sabotage and shameless lying in the guise of politics as usual.
It's moral tragedy on a grand scale.