Sunday, August 01, 2010

Madness, Republican-Style

The nearly unhindered, deranged, and un-American Republican push to extend the Bush tax cuts for the super rich is the very definition of madness: a return to the runaway deficit train and one step from the precipice of total economic collapse that eight years of George W. Bush wrought. Why haven’t they encountered more resistance?

Three corporate conservative Democrats in the House of multi-millionaire Lords known as “the Senate” are peddling this voodoo economics. North Dakota’s useless Democratic Senator, Kent Conrad, is on board while his colleague, good guy Byron Dorgan is not. Dorgan predicted the Republican economic depression earlier than anyone else in the Senate, voting against gutting Glass-Steagall and deregulation of the banks pushed by former Texas Senator Phil Gramm and his wife, Wendy, then Chair of the CFTC. Byron Dorgan is retiring from the Senate in no small measure, perhaps, because people like the three Democratic defectors, Senators Conrad, Ben Nelson, and Evan Bayh are such goddamned selfish weasels.

I have little faith the media will cover this story as it should, for one simple reason. Most of them, especially in television news are in the affected tax bracket. Think about it. If you earn $200,000 or more ($250,000 as a couple), placing you in the top 2% of earners, your tax liability will increase by about 4%. Even if intellectually you agree this is the right thing to do for the country and the middle class, personally you may not be happy about experiencing even the tiniest squeeze in your lavish lifestyle, where before you were completely insulated from the economic downturn. This isn’t about ideology, it’s about class -- a stratified oligarchy that rules and owns this country -- and the other 98% of us. Oh, there will be outliers in the media coverage, to be sure. The media has a class (caste?) system, too. Bloggers and netroots keep self-described “bourgeois” media types honest.

As Uncle Joe Biden said:

To show just how bankrupt the Republicans are, two icons of conservative laissez-faire economics, former Ayn Rand groupie Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, architect of the original Reagan voodoo economics, came out in vehement opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts. David Stockman was Reagan’s wunderkin who started cutting taxes for the rich and implementing the Laffer napkin “supply-side” economics. Stockman was as responsible as any person for 20 years of disastrous Republican economic policies, which gutted our manufacturing base and shipped millions of good-paying jobs overseas, never to return.

Stockman later recanted “trickle-down” and admitted it was a fraud. Alan Greenspan has a similar story. After decades pimping laissez-faire, deregulation, exotic financial instruments, downplaying deficits and singing the praises of “self-regulating” markets, he appeared shell-shocked as he tried to account for the economic collapse during a Congressional hearing. Stockman and Greenspan are atoning for their sins, which is little comfort to the millions of lives they helped destroy. It’s a process reminiscent of McNamara’s mea culpa on Vietnam; at least they have an important perspective to contribute to the historical record.

In truth, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire isn’t really that much at all to ask the gilded class -- America’s oligarchy -- to give up in order to save the middle class and maintain our economic recovery, that we may prosper as a nation. Actually, it’s the patriotic thing to do. Shameless, selfish, greedy Republicans keep playing the same damn broken record after throwing the country into the ditch by voting for the original tax cuts using reconciliation. Remember how they were screaming last year that reconciliation to pass healthcare was undemocratic, an abuse of power, the end of the Republic, etc.? Well, that’s how they passed the tax cuts for their rich friends 10 years ago, and because they used reconciliation, the tax cuts had a ten-year expiration date. Well, the results are in: The Clinton surplus turned into a trillion-plus dollar deficit, close to zero job growth after 23 million jobs created under Clinton, and a near-economic collapse which shrank 6% in Bush’s last year and was bleeding 170,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office.

If Teddy Roosevelt were around to see what these Republicans are doing, and attempting to do, he’d call them malefactors of political power and traitors to the public good and the Constitution. He would be enraged. And with good reason.

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