More articles by
David A. Schwinghammer
• Empty Mansions, book review
• Pilgrim's Wilderness, book review
• WWII Cartoonist, book review
• Write Yourself Into a Corner, book review
• Roanoke Island, book review
• Billboard Theology
• Baghdad Without a Map, book review
• Into the Wild, book review
Starve the Beast, Not a Plan
By David A. Schwinghammer
Denying the Federal Government revenue to do its job is irresponsible in the extreme.
Grover Norquist, the man behind the Republican pledge epidemic that has caused much of the gridlock in Washington, has said that he plans to “starve the beast” in respect to big government by denying it revenue. Presently our budget deficit hovers around a trillion and a half dollars a year, thanks in part to George W. Bush’s tax cuts and his unwillingness to pay for the war in Iraq. Bush is a conservative, Norquist is a conservative; you can’t have it both ways. Prior to the Obama administration, 80% of the national debt was incurred by the two Bushes and Reagan. Before the Reagan administration, the national debt was under a trillion dollars. When he left office, it was over four billion. Most of that involved the military industrial complex, which now eats up around 800 billion dollars per year. In comparison China’s military budget is approaching 100 billion and they haven’t been in a major war since Korea. Yet, according to conservatives, they’re the war mongers.
This starve the beast mentality is particularly befuddling in that it ignores history. During the Revolutionary War the colonies did not have an executive branch. They relied on the president of the Continental Congress, who had little power. Congress had no power to tax and the states generally ignored requests to support the army. Troops signed on for three months at a time, and Washington had to constantly beg them to stay. We almost lost because there was no central authority. Without donors like Robert Morris and the French coming in on our side we would have lost. This is the kind of government Grover Norquist wants. After the war, the country was run by the Articles of Confederation. There was no national monetary policy; a bunch of bickering states charged each other tariffs for trading beyond respective borders. Then along came Alexander Hamilton who not only helped pass the Constitution, being the main author of the Federalist Papers, but also supported the idea of assuming the states’ war debts and creating a national bank. In other words, he’s the one who started expanding the power of the federal government. But it would have failed without him. Conservatives would have paid him back by replacing his picture on the ten dollar bill with that of Ronald Reagan.
Alexander Hamilton doesn’t get much of the blame for the supposedly bloated federal government. That burden goes to FDR who plunged in head first when the country was confronted with the worst depression in national history, caused by irresponsible Wall Street trading. He created social security, the Civilian Conservation Corps, The WPA etc., etc. A conservative Supreme Court vetoed many of his programs. Sound familiar? It’s amazing how many Tea Party members were worried about losing their social security, as if conservatives have ever supported it. When George W. Bush tried to partially privatize it, he came under fire from both sides. Yet, such Republican “bright lights” as Paul Ryan are still working on its demise.
It’s not in as much trouble as right wingers would have you believe, however. Most of us pay social security taxes on everything we make. The rich pay it on roughly $110,000 of their earnings. So, in effect, what Grover Norquist is doing is painting his party into a corner. Just raise the cap. In the last thirty years, corporate salaries are up 400 to one, compared to the average American worker.
Conservatives also argue that if you lower corporate taxes and deregulate (As Bush did prior to the mortgage debacle) the GNP will go through the roof. These guys really need to go back to school. Any undergraduate knows about Thorstein Veblen, author of THE THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS. Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” which is what happens when capitalists make undeserved profits. Golden bathroom fixtures, doghouses the size of a conventional kitchen, huge yachts, and champagne flights to Europe are the end result. We’ve seen what the Bernie Madoffs of this world do with their money when they don’t hide it in the Cayman Islands or Swiss bank accounts. Even John McCain had no idea how many houses he owned (Seven). And how many Cadillacs does Mrs. Romney need, one for every house? Recently the CEO of General Motors said he would not hire any new workers or build any new plants until he sells every car his company produces. Sounds like the good ol’ boys are putting their heads together to deny Obama a second term, and without Obama, there wouldn’t be a General Motors, at least not on the present scale.
The Republican party really needs to catch a clue. Sarah Palin wasn’t enough of a cautionary tale. Look at who’s running for president under their banner: a religious fanatic; a corporate raider; an anarchist, and a serial philanderer who had the gall to hound President Clinton unrelentingly.
The supposed “lame street media” doesn’t help matters either. Just the other day Brian Williams had a hack from the Cato Institute on as a guest to respond to the prediction that many coastal cities would be flooded due to the melting of the Arctic Cap by 2050. This clown claimed the ocean wasn’t rising, that it was the ground that was sinking and there was nothing we could do about that. Brian Williams treated him like an expert, rather than the spin doctor that he was. Edward R. Murrow would have chewed him up and spit him out. A commentary in the April 6th issue of the Minneapolis Star/Tribune trumpeted “The Perfect Storm of Tax Hikes Is Coming” regarding the possibility President Obama will end the Bush tax cuts in 2013. The author claimed that American households face an average increase of $3,800. Of course the author was Curtis Dubay, senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, and if he’s telling the truth at all, he’s including the millions of tax dollars the rich have been dodging for the past ten years. The middle class got peanuts in comparison, and they really should pay more taxes, along with the rich. What have American citizens done in comparison to the National Guard, the army, navy, and air force during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars? They barely knew they were happening. It’s time to pay the piper. The middle class will barely miss the few dollars they got, and the rich need to take a close look in the mirror.
What’s happening is we elected a man who offered hope and change, then we turned around and handcuffed him by electing a bunch of clueless knuckleheads who don’t have a problem with shutting down the government when they don’t get their way. What would have happened to your IRA if they’d been successful. Michelle Bachmann is still bragging about her willingness to renege on our debts and damn the consequences.
Experts claim that most of us are switch hitters when it comes to voting. Apparently independent voters haven’t noticed they have a pretty clear choice. Republicans oppose a strong federal government. Their goal seems to be to make sure nothing gets done. All the great legislation has been passed by the democratic party, except for the freeway system, and the GOOPs don’t claim Eisenhower. Democrats passed the Civil Rights Bill, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the GI bill, minimum wage, unemployment compensation, and child labor laws. Anybody who says Americans should pull themselves up by their own boot straps has never been poor. Meanwhile Republicans are passing conceal and carry laws, Voter I.D., the Marriage Act, and Right to Work for peanuts, all of which are detrimental to our society in some way. What kind of political party would do away with the EPA? Mitch Daniels has targeted Planned Parenthood, which is more responsible for the drop in teenage pregnancy than anyone. Republicans disrespect our teachers and sponsor home schooling and private schools at the expense of free education.
If Grover Norquist really wants to starve the beast, maybe he should go on a diet.
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|Recent articles by this author.
articles by this author
|Empty Mansions, book review (Wednesday, November 27, 2013)
Pilgrim's Wilderness, book review (Sunday, November 10, 2013)
WWII Cartoonist, book review (Sunday, October 27, 2013)
Write Yourself Into a Corner, book review (Saturday, October 12, 2013)
Roanoke Island, book review (Sunday, September 29, 2013)
Billboard Theology (Friday, September 13, 2013)
Baghdad Without a Map, book review (Wednesday, September 04, 2013)
Into the Wild, book review (Monday, August 26, 2013)