Monday, November 8, 2010

Read Fareed

Because he has the credibility of a large audience and important job when he says exactly what I've been saying on this blog:

The first Republican revolution was the Reagan one, which promised to roll back Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. In its place, Reagan proposed a low-tax, small-government America. The first part happened, with a historic reform of the tax codes, bringing marginal tax rates way down and eliminating hundreds of loopholes. But the spending cuts never took place. The result: from 1981 to 1985, the federal budget deficit more than doubled as a percentage of GDP, and it declined slightly in Reagan's second term only because he agreed to tax increases. Still, the basic pattern was set. If the old Democratic paradigm was tax and spend, the new Republican one was borrow and spend...

...The historical record is clear: since the mid-1960s, it was Clinton's terms that saw the lowest average deficits of any President - the only period of restraint in the growth of the federal government - and the biggest surpluses. Some spending restraint took place after the Republican congressional victories of 1994, but some - like steep reductions in the number of government employees - started earlier. (See pictures of the 2009 tax protests.)
Most important, the surpluses were created in large part because Clinton raised taxes in his first year, something every congressional Republican voted against...

...Bush made three big decisions: to cut taxes, give prescription drugs to the elderly and fight two wars. Crucially, he decided not to pay for them. ("Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," Dick Cheney famously told Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill.) As a consequence, the U.S. went from having a large structural surplus in 2000 to a structural deficit that was close to 2.8% of GDP by the end of the Bush presidency... After the 2008 recession came along and tax revenues plummeted, that deficit more than doubled. But the hole was created well before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. (Take a look back at Bush's economic missteps.)

Third time around, the Republicans say they mean business. But when asked how they will close the deficit, most explain they will cut taxes - which will only reduce government revenues further and increase the debt. Others, like Dick Armey, chairman of the Tea Party affiliate FreedomWorks, say they would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, whose budget is $167.5 million, approximately 0.01% of the federal deficit.

Well, as I said in my transformative speech, we'll see. Time for governance, teabaggers. Whaddya got? Where are we going, and how do we get there? Do the math. And show your work.

And as long as this post is mostly quoting others, read this, too: a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie...

...In a snap poll, 92 percent of those surveyed had a positive reaction to Obama's speech (referring to this one)—68 percent a very positive reaction. Only 8 percent had a negative reaction. The next morning I tuned in to Rush Limbaugh. I was fascinated to see how the hell he might respond.

Like a deer in the headlights? Not quite. The first caller, though a self-professed ditto-head, took objection to Rush's argument that Obama had revealed himself in the speech as a tax-and-spend liberal. The caller quoted Obama's words: "Because of this plan, 95 percent of the working households in America will receive a tax cut –- a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1." (Which was true: People did.) Rush responded, fluidly and without a gram of doubt. "Pay no attention to what Obama says. He means the opposite in most cases. What he says is irrelevant."

So we had a revolutionary election, led by people who were lied to and bought it, electing people who had no ideas and were given a pass.

Time to stop blowing smoke and start polishing the mirrors, teabagger politicos. We're waiting with fated breath.

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