Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waking up to the truth

In a Washington Post editorial, the editorial board seems to be just shocked to discover that the incoming Republicans were not the least bit serious about deficit reduction. Washington Post: “ARE HOUSE Republicans serious about dealing with the deficit? You could listen to their rhetoric – or you could read the rules they are poised to adopt at the start of the new Congress. The former promises a new fiscal sobriety. The latter suggests that the new GOP majority is determined to continue the spree of unaffordable tax-cutting….”

Gee…Who could have known?

But when the White House struck its deal to extend the top-bracket tax cuts, the WaPo editors were incredibly enthusiastic. In a Dec. 23 editorial, they gushed about December's good cheer:  the "president and lawmakers have every reason to feel good about the closing weeks of the 111th Congress" and that the tax-cut deal specifically was an "achievement to be celebrated." No mention was made at the time at the way that same tax cut deal added to the deficits, because the glorious bipartisanship on display trumped all of those practical considerations.

The gullibility of the media on all this amounts to journalistic malpractice because they should have reminded people of Republican history. Republicans have, after all, been the party of fiscal irresponsibility since 1980 as confirmed by the Reagan administration tripling the deficit during the eight years it was in office and by the George W. Bush administration when unfunded tax cuts became the main party focus.

Then along comes a Democratic president who presides over just two years of deficits in the immediate aftermath of a severe financial crisis – which is a time when you’re actually supposed to run deficits. Republicans begin protesting vehemently against the evils of red ink – and, incredibly, the media, especially the right wing media, believes them.

If you actually paid attention to what leading Republicans were saying, their lack of seriousness was totally obvious. For example, the Ryan plan claimed to reduce the deficit; but, if you actually looked into it at all, it relied completely on magic (read the asterisks). Another example is the declarations by top Republicans that deficits are terrible but there is no need to offset the cost of the Bush tax cuts.

The idea that Republicans are allowed to pose as deficit hawks is stunning.  Oh, and for those claiming that Republicans have always said that spending, not deficits, is what matters: this is very much revisionist history. You cannot denounce the federal debt and then claim that you never cared about the revenue side of things. The deficit scare tactics lately have been all about solvency. If America doesn’t bring down its spending, they said, we will turn into Greece.

To say that Republican screaming about the deficit was a political ploy, with no substance behind it, is an understatement. Republicans have never been about deficits for real. Do you remember Cheney declaring that “deficits don’t matter?” Republicans were all about regaining power – bleating what their voters wanted to hear. They have no real intention to bring down the deficit by much. It is just an excuse to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and try to put healthcare back where it was in 2008 with its steeply increasing costs and hundreds of thousands of patients being dumped. And, folks, that is just what they will try to do.

Okay... we have awakened to the truth. Let’s all get those signs out of the closets.  Now, everyone hold them up in our protest rallies over Republican fiscal irresponsibility:

“Keep the government away from my Social Security!”
“Don’t mess with my Medicare!”

What? You threw them away when the Republicans won the House?

If the Tea Party does not get out and march against Republicans destroying Social Security and Medicare, and allowing the deficit to increase greatly because of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, then we will know that they were really about one thing only – hating the first black President of the United States.

If the shoe fits, wear it, even if it is tight.  Waking up to the truth can be painful.