Tuesday, March 27, 2012

POLITICS: The Republican Party is America’s Cancer

I know it sounds blunt, maybe even over the top, but it’s true: today’s elected Republican party is a cancer in America. “Dividing abnormal cells”—that’s what cancer is. The Republican party of the past 30 years has become a very abnormal organism whose sole purpose appears to be dividing as much of the country as it possibly can and killing the federal services that actually help American citizens. And since January 20th, 2009, the Republican cancer has been in full blown activation.

Let me make a clear distinction: I am talking about the governing, elected Republican politicians of the Grand Old Party. While there are certainly conservatives in our country who adhere to the Party's poisonous ideas of the past three decades, it's the elected men and women with governing and legislative power under the GOP banner who have repeatedly chosen to advance and make laws that have infected our body politic and economy.

 Cancer is an insidious disease. It doesn’t make any sense. It infects a body’s system and very quickly it can inhabit major organs. It can ravage a body so nefariously that treatment isn’t even possible once its discovered. Doctors can radiate it, treat it chemically, and send it into remission only to have the cancer return again in equal strength years later. It’s a horrible disease, and I’m guessing any reasonable person reading this wouldn’t even stoop so low as to wish it on their worst enemy.

But cancer is the perfect metaphor for the modern Republican party. In the past 30 years, the GOP has managed to infect just enough Americans to keep our country in a vicious circle of treatment, remission, and full-blown attacks, ultimately leaving a body politic and nation in a nearly perpetual state of serious illness.

From the mid-1940s until the early-1980s, America thrived, growing to be the most dominant economic and military force on the planet. American citizens enjoyed unprecedented income growth, economic and educational mobility, and a flourishing middle class. It wasn’t perfect, no doubt, but America’s leaders—regardless of party affiliation—found ways to work together to help the nation flourish. President Eisenhower built the federal highway system, a massive government–fueled jobs/stimulus program. President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency to protect citizens and our air and water from the destructive practices of our own manufacturing sector. He almost established the first steps toward a nationalized health care system, which was ultimately curtailed by resistance from none other than Senator Ted Kennedy, who wanted a much broader plan. Nixon also opened up trade with China back when we had strict trade policies with all of our international trading partners.

I single out these two past Republican presidents to help make the contrast to today’s Republican party. Those initiatives that Eisenhower and Nixon signed into law were legislation that helped the vast majority of American citizens. They improved people’s lives, albeit in different ways. They were good ideas that became good laws because of an outmoded concept called bipartisanship—Republicans and Democrats working together to compromise on solutions to help the country. In 2012, neither Nixon nor Eisenhower would stand a chance with today’s malignant GOP.

Even Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the Republican party, would be Tea-Bagged out of today’s cancerous GOP. He certainly cut taxes at the beginning of his first term, which seems to be the modern GOP’s solution to EVERYTHING (“Got hit by a tornado? Boy, cutting your taxes sure would be the best solution to the rubble of your home . . . “). Reagan’s presidency is where we are introduced to the first real cell division in the modern Republican Party cancer: cutting taxes on “job creators” spurs economic growth. I’m sure you’ve heard this illogical phrase over the past 30 years. Trouble is, it doesn’t work. It never has—EVER in the history of humankind. It didn’t work under Reagan. And we just experienced the severe results of this inane tax policy in this country since 2001 with the Bush II administration. We’re still suffering the debilitating effects, despite a supposedly “liberal” Obama administration.

Cutting taxes on the “job creators” to spur economic growth has a more familiar historical name: feudalism. It worked out great for Medieval Europe alright.

The reason Reagan is the font of this cancer is because he and his administration sold just enough Americans on this crazy idea that we shouldn’t have to pay taxes for all the stuff we want our government to do to not only win two elections, but to infect an entire generation of knuckle-draggers for decades to come. But see, even Reagan didn’t buy his own bullshit. He lowered taxes in 1981 when unemployment was 7.5%. By 1983, all those job creators alleviated of burdensome taxes had created enough jobs to run the unemployment rate up to 10.8%. (See—it doesn’t work.) But in order to pay for all the services the American people wanted their federal government to provide, Reagan started borrowing money like an earnest junkie. He tripled the national debt to it highest levels ever and he grew the federal government unlike any of his predecessors. Over the remaining seven years of his presidency, Reagan raised taxes on individuals 11 times! So much for the magic elixir of tax cuts.

 
But what Reagan’s welching on his anti-tax stance proves is that even the patron saint of today’s GOP understood that the federal government had to provide services for American citizens and that the government needed tax money to pay for it—just like it stipulates in our Constitution. Reagan and his crew weren’t very good at paying for things—it would take President Bill Clinton’s administration to show the Reaganites and the GOP how you pay for government and turn up a surplus—but what was distilled from the “Reagan Revolution” by his faithful followers was the cutting taxes part. NOT the part where you actually have to pay for anything the government does.

Recent history proves how this economic Republican cancer came to full force under George W. Bush:
• two tax cuts, the last one in 2003 relatively unnecessary and geared primarily to the very highest income earners in the country (no, not you).
• two completely UNFUNDED wars. One may well be have been legitimate (Afghanistan), but the Iraq War was one of this country’s most shameful swindles.
• Medicare Part D in 2003 was a new federal program to help subsidize the high cost of many prescription drugs for seniors. Great legislation, something that actually helps American citizens—except for one thing: the Republicans didn’t devise a way to pay for it. Because today’s GOP can’t fathom raise taxes, they just went ahead and slapped this multi-billion (multi-trillion if never addressed over the decades) program on the U.S. credit card.

The larger point is that none of this was paid for—Bush and the GOP put it all on the country’s credit card. Historically, when America goes to war, Americans are required to pay for it with higher taxes either during the war or after the war is over. Not so in the Republican cancer ward.

Vice President Dick Cheney famously said, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” And the modern GOP couldn’t have agreed more: between 2001 when Bush took office and 2008 when he left, the national debt grew from 5.9 trillion to 10.6 trillion —and that’s not including the credit card wars and Medicare Part D. Those went on Obama’s deficit spreadsheet.

Do you get the picture?

The modern Republican Party is an economic cancer on America because they don’t want to pay for anything the federal government does—yet they’re more than happy to put us all on the credit line for wars, subsidies to the special interests that fund GOP campaigns, and making damn sure the wealthiest 1% (again—that’s not you!) are alleviated of as much tax burden as possible. Imagine a political party running on that platform? “We promise to spend more of your money than you can imagine on wars and the machinery of war, give your money away to our wealthiest corporations like Exxon, and use your money to subsidize the regrettable tax burden on guys like Warren Buffett and Donald Trump. To do all this, we’re going to get rid of all that socialist nonsense that true Americans hate anyway: food stamps to feed poor families, money to fund the EPA to keep our air and water clean, and all that Commie stuff like Medicare and unemployment insurance that you and your employers have been paying into for years. We’ll still be running huge deficits every year, but doesn’t that sound like a pretty great deal? Pray on it. You’ll see the light. And by the way—those liberals want to spend your money on wussy stuff and take your guns away and make us all gay Muslims.”

Jude Wanniski
Would you vote for that party? Obviously not—nobody in their right mind would. But there are too many terminal cases in this country that gobble up the cancer the GOP has been offering for decades. It has been a very purposeful, concerted effort since the 1980s. Don’t believe me? Would you believe someone who served both Reagan and the first President Bush? Check out Bruce Bartlett’s recent column on the origins of today’s cancerous Republican Party. The key idea here is the “Two-Santa Theory” proposed in 1976 by a man named Jude Wanniski. Bartlett’s column is more complete in its explication of Wanniski’s theory, but the basic idea is that if the Democrats are going to be the Spending Santa Claus, creating large programs that benefit Americans (virtually all of them paid for, by the way), the Republicans should be the Santa Claus of Tax Reduction. Wanniski even admits that “Only the shrewdness of the Democrats, who have kindly agreed to play both Santa Clauses during critical periods, has saved the nation from even greater misery.” Real shrewd—it’s called having people PAY for what they want their government to do.

Adherence to Wanniski’s Santa Clause of Tax Reduction concept has been the guiding principal, the ONE commandment of the modern Republican Party. And it’s the ideal complement to my GOP as cancer assertion: only cancerous cells can believe that spending money while reducing income is a good idea. It’s abnormal division, bad cell evolution, and embarrassing elementary school math.

Grover Norquist
There is a purpose to such hair-brained economic policy, and it was voiced succinctly by one of the most powerful non-elected figures in the Republican Party: Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform who has connived every elected Republican politician in today’s Congress to sign his “no new taxes” pledge, once said he would like to shrink government “down to the size where it can be drowned in the bathtub.” Consider that metaphor. Norquist’s ultimate goal is to kill the federal government—the organizing government that the founders outlined in the Constitution. Of course, there are places in the world that would seem a perfect fit for a guy like Grover and most of his GOP comrades—it’s called Somalia. If the GOP is America’s cancer, Grover Norquist has been one of the busiest mutant cancer cells.

But this is what the modern GOP has been trying to do since the 1980s: explode the deficit and national debt to such immense proportions that we as a country cannot afford to pay for the programs that help American citizens. And then blame the bad economic policy on the Democrats. Medicare, Social Security, FEMA, the EPA, food stamps, any and all regulatory policies—these are all federal programs that our citizenry has voted for and supported and PAID FOR over the past 75 years. The vast majority of Americans agree that these are all valuable and worthwhile programs, and we remain perfectly willing to pay taxes in order to keep these programs viable. But not the GOP. They’re infected, corrosive, and they would prefer to get rid of these programs. Again: Republicans are a cancer to America.

So in 2008 our economy collapsed and the Republican Party has not done one concrete thing to help you or me or the rest of the country in its efforts to recover. They opposed the 2009 Stimulus package, the federal loan to automakers to keep the industry alive, the Affordable Care Act, closing loopholes for U.S. companies who move their businesses overseas, student financial aid expansion, Wall Street reform, the credit cardholders’ bill of rights, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (assuring equal pay for equal work for women), FHA reform, expanded benefits for Veterans, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Disclose Act (making political money contributions transparent) . . . the list goes on and on. Since our economy collapsed in 2008, the GOP has only been interested in legislation that cuts taxes, keeps regulation off the very industries that tanked our economy, maintains funding for war and production of war machinery, and drilling for more oil. Most recently, the GOP has taken great interest in limiting women’s rights to health care services and promoting laws that involve inserting items into pregnant women’s vaginas because women certainly don’t know what’s best for them.

Simply: the Republican Party is America’s cancer. There is little to nothing that today’s Republican Party is offering legislatively or idea-wise that will help this country as a whole or help most everyone reading this. Cancer doesn’t help or make things better or solve itself—cancer only degrades and degenerates. And ultimately kills. And there’s only one way to even attempt a cure of this horrible cancer: cut it out, radiate it, and blast it with chemo. Only then will the country stand a chance of survival.

The good news is that all three of those treatments are available every two, four, and six years at the ballot box. Hopefully this year will be a step toward treatment. Granted, there are places in this country where the body politic is so riddled with this Republican cancer that its citizens are beyond cure (see Mississippi, Alabama, etc.) But for the rest of the fully upright country, treatment is urgent and necessary if we want any chance of beating the Big C. We’ve struggled to survive 30 years of the Republican Party’s abnormal dividing cells, and it has been metastasizing aggressively the past few years. We don’t have too many years left before the prognosis is terminal.



Endnote: One should not infer from this blog post that I exonerate the Democratic Party from the past 30 years of decline in this country. I don’t. But the Democratic Party’s contributions are of a different—though sometime complementary—nature. I’ll detail those in a future post. But there are stark differences between the two parties: one is trying to drown our form of government in a bathtub; the other at least tries to throw out a life preserver. 



2 comments:

  1. Sensational piece, MCH. I have reposted on my FB profile as well as http://www.facebook.com/TeapotPartyPolitics.
    Oh, and I sent it to my mother . . .

    p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Perry.
      Hope your mom likes it . . .

      Delete