Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The keystone in the arch of incompetence that overlies all of modern Republicanism since Lord Ronald is the statement, repeated endlessly by all adherents and perhaps even believed by a few of them, that "tax cuts pay for themselves." It's really the perfect basis on which to judge them, because it exemplifies everything they've said or done in the last thirty-some years. It's without evidence, it's patently false, it's highly damaging to our future. And it's accepted as the gods' truth.

Once again, here's Ronnie's own economic advisor, truth-telling into the hurricane headwinds:

Republicans claim to be deeply concerned about the budget deficit and the national debt, yet repeatedly demand additional large tax cuts. For example, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution but also wants an $8 trillion tax cut. He rationalizes this contradiction by asserting that his tax cut will not actually lose any revenue. As Pawlenty told Slate reporter Dave Weigel on June 13:

“When Ronald Reagan cut taxes in a significant way, revenues actually increased by almost 100 percent during his eight years as president. So this idea that significant, big tax cuts necessarily result in lower revenues – history does not [bear] that out.”

In point of fact, this assertion is completely untrue.


This is not surprising given that no one in the Reagan administration ever claimed that his 1981 tax cut would pay for itself or that it did. Reagan economists Bill Niskanen and Martin Anderson have written extensively on this oft-repeated myth. Conservative economist Lawrence Lindsey made a thorough effort to calculate the feedback effect in his 1990 book, The Growth Experiment. He concluded that the behavioral and macroeconomic effects of the 1981 tax cut, resulting from both supply-side and demand-side effects, recouped about a third of the static revenue loss.


Republicans also assert that the tax cuts of the George W. Bush years paid for themselves. On July 13, 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that there was no net revenue loss from any of the Bush tax cuts, in defense of an earlier comment by Senator John Kyl that all spending increases must be offset so as not to increase the deficit, but tax cuts need never be offset. Said McConnell:

“There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”

This is a view not shared by economists who worked for Bush. For example, Alan Viard, senior economist at the Council of Economic Advisers during Bush’s first term, told the Washington Post in 2006, “Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There’s really no dispute among economists about that.”

We're truly at the Mad Hatter's tea party. (Rich, huh?) Half our country is in the thrall of a political party whose central philosophy is demonstrably false; and yet -- presumably because it's such a happy thought that promises everything will be fine, not only with no sacrifice but with the actual opposite -- that party has managed to gain the ability to grind our government to a halt.

It was a cliché before it was ever uttered: you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. And yet here we are. The power of lies is irresistible, evidently; the more so the tougher the times. When times get tough, the tough get... drowned out. How easy, how appealing: the country is broke, we need money to fix our infrastructure, to educate our kids, to fight our wars. And guess what? There's great news!! The solution to everything is to cut taxes. Eat our crap and we'll give you cake, too. Ronald loves you. Be selfish, ignore reality. And you'll still get into heaven, right here on earth. Sign me up and send me a teabag.

What hope can there possibly be when a major political party is based on a lie, pushes the lie, has the lie reinforced by a propaganda conglomerate run by the only people who benefit from the falsehood, and is swallowed whole, drunk deep and steaming, because it promises free and sweet tea for everyone? This is a world that makes no sense, except as one visited by Alice. Or Lemuel Gulliver. The US of A, the fuck-yeah exceptional: overtaken by magical thinking, dancing to its own destruction.

It's absolutely amazing; and, except for the fact that it's being enabled by a form of religious fundamentalism, it defies explanation. The question is, do the purveyors know they're lying, or, as with their other ignorancii, such as their reckoning of the age of the earth, on evolution, and their stand on global climate change, have they actively suppressed facts to maintain the beliefs it takes for them to stay happy in a complicated world?

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