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Politics & Power

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Have the Republicans Lost Credibility on the Economy?

In December of 2000 the United States had an annual budget surplus of over 250 billion dollars. During the Bill Clinton administration our nation went from having a deficit of 290 billion dollars to a surplus of over 250 billion dollars. The deficit inherited by the Clinton administration came after twelve years of Republican economic policy during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Under the guidance of the Democratic administration we actually began to pay off the national debt.

In January of 2001 George W. Bush took office with a record budget surplus and a plan he could ride through an entire two-term administration and find economic prosperity for the nation. Had he followed that economic plan we would be nearing the point where we had no more debt as a nation. It was projected that with the surpluses expected in the coming years, modest tax relief could be given and the government could still improve education and healthcare as well as continuing to pay down the national debt. Unfortunately, the Bush administration decided to throw caution to the wind and give away all of the gains made in the previous eight years for a feel-good tax break for the wealthy and a little pocket change to the rest of us relatively speaking. The end result is that we are now once again faced with record debt and record deficits at the end of another Republican administration.

It’s interesting that the last two Republican administrations have left us in debt yet the only Democratic administration in the last quarter century left a budget surplus and a booming economy. So who then becomes more credible on the economy? While Republicans claim to be the party of small government and fiscal responsibility, they have been the ones that have grown government and exploded the deficit. True fiscal conservatives have to be scratching their heads in confusion. What happened to balanced budgets and strong economic policies? The new breed of Republican seems to have some Orwellian 1984 take on the economy, “recession is good, surpluses are bad, night is day, black is white…” Add to that their seeming obsession with fundamentalist Christian constituents and their new willingness to put activist judges on even the highest court in the land and you have extremists running the most powerful nation on Earth into the ground.

So are the Democrats better? In some ways they can be better. They have now embraced balanced budget and sensible foreign policy ideals. They are also beginning to see the use of measured force when needed and a strong military at the ready being important to our national interests. They have shown that they can balance a budget, which the Republicans have not managed to do in recent memory. They do have a tendency to fund a lot of social programs that use tax dollars but they also usually make sure they have the revenues to pay for them. From a strictly fiscal perspective it seems the new “conservative” kings of Washington are the Democrats. While the Republicans find ways to dig us deeper into debt, the Democrats find ways to climb out of the hole that the Republicans left behind. The fiscal conservatives might want to start voting Democrat or Independent because unless you want your children to be saddled with immense debt, which they will in turn leave to your grandchildren, you don’t want more Republican economic policies for a while.

Sadly, even the old-guard Republicans seem to have fallen victim to the “neo-conservative” wave of economic foolishness. John McCain, a long-time opponent of frivolous tax cuts, is now talking about making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He’s talking about giving the lion’s share of the benefit to the wealthiest one percent of Americans while the working people of America shoulder the burden of paying for it. That’s not being a man of the people. That’s more Bush insanity. That’s more backwards conservatism. We need to find a better way to handle our economy. The rich folks need to pony up a little more and the government needs to stop wasting money and spend more wisely. No more thousand dollar hammers, no more no-bid contracts, no more cronyism in the budget and no more back-room deals to build bridges to nowhere. It’s time we told the people in Washington that it is our money and they need to stop wasting it. First step down that path in my view is to vote all of the people that do it out of office. First to go need to be the neo-cons.

We need to pledge as a nation that we will not be swayed by emotional issues based on fear of things that cannot really hurt us like gay marriage and focus on the things that will actually keep us in jobs that pay for our homes and put food on the table. This needs to be the kitchen table election. We need leaders that will make sure we have a place to put our tables and food to put on them. We need them to stop trying to give our jobs away and we need them to stop robbing the poor to give to the rich. The rich folks will be fine even if their taxes go up a little. Conservative does not mean slave to the rich. Conservative means making choices that make greater sense for the good of the nation. A starving nation with a shrinking elite class walled up in gated communities getting fat off of the labors of the poor is not serving the national interests of America. Policies that take from the poor to give to the rich can have an ultimate consequence. Those policies often lead to societal collapse and class-based civil war. People with nothing to lose become less afraid of dying than they are of continuing to live in a hellish reality. Just something to think about when you’re deciding in November who will be better for America.

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