Christmas for Republicans
Thoughts while reading Matt Taibbi's book Griftopia after Christmas (2010):
As we celebrated the holidays, we presented Republicans with magnificent gifts, but we should add up the price tags for them, because they worry about the deficit.
R's whined for tax cuts for the wealthy. Granted that the economy needs some stimulus, but as honest economists will tell you, the wealthy don't really need those cuts, and they may not even spend them. That's why, as a stimulus, its not very effective. As we have seen repeatedly, when income disparities grow too large, demand dries up, and the market crashes. These tax cuts will further exacerbate our already huge income disparity (See The Spirit Level, Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett for consequences) The tax cuts will cost 629 Billion over the next ten years.
To go along with the Start treaty which reduces nuclear armaments, Rs insisted as a quid-pro-quo, that we build a brand new generation of nuclear arms. (See the 2009 documentary Countdown to Zero before you congratulate them.) That is almost as good an investment as the Egyptians made in the Great Pyramids and, like the pyramids, the waste product will be there for thousands of years. (Would you bet that humans will be here that long ?) We know also that storing the waste at Yucca Mountain is not the answer. Figure $80 Billion for new nukes.
They seemed to worry that the Start treaty would impair the Ballistic Missile Defense program. If you ask the experts at MIT what they think of BMD, they will argue that the program is a boondoggle and always has been. It is provocative, violates treaties about waging war in space, and will never function as advertised, but Republicans are the party of the defense-industrial complex that Ike warned us about. The US arms industry is powerful, it wants its cut, and it provides jobs in about every Congressional district. Hard to guess how much this cost, but over the years it likely runs to $100s of Billions.
Republicans, being warmongers, still think we need the world's largest military that accounts for more than 50% of your tax dollars. (Keep in mind as you are strip searched at the airport or other public venues, that the continued rampant military buildup will inevitably cost you your civil liberties.) As the cold war wound down, it was getting difficult to find enemies to continue the huge military establishment. But then Bush the second solved the problem by using 9/11 as justification for two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan and in the process made enemies of the entire Muslim world. (Did you notice that the same people, including Cheney and Rumsfeld, who twisted 'intelligence' to justify the mammoth Reagan cold war military buildup, did it again to go to war in Iraq ?) The cost of those latest wars, according to Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz, was on the order of three trillion. War is profitable, expect more of it.
But all of that put together is chump change compared to the gift of deregulation to Republicans. After the market crashed, notice that most of the proceeds go to a few banks. (Coincidentally, it happened under Bush the First also. It was called the S&L bailout then.) The US is actually broke. The rubes have still not caught on to the reality that the market is unstable, unfair, and unsustainable. The cost of the bailout, according to Matt Taibbi's book, Griftopia, including AIG, Goldman, and the others, comes to around $13 Trillion.
So we are running large deficits and Republicans worry about them. With new strength in Congress here's how they would like to pay for the above.
Cut corporate taxes. Huh? This will not pay for anything, but R's favorite sport is dodging taxes. (A GAO report found that between 1998 and 2005, two thirds of all corporations operating in the US paid NO taxes at all. (Again Matt Taibi: Griftopia, pg 224.)
Roll back health care. (This will, according to CBO, increase the deficit by $230 billion, but R's don't believe it.) Other developed countries cover everyone, but with our special burden, our need to police the world, we can't afford it. We should quit building an empire. The late Chalmers Johnson wrote four excellent books detailing why.
Cut Social Security. This brings to national level the activity widely engaged in by State and Local officials: When you are having trouble paying the bills, just bust unions and cut pensions. It is the easiest expense to cut, except for the public employees payroll. (Why should they be paid better than private sector jobs that compete with third world subsistence wages ?) There will be misery.
Downsize government. Republicans have always wanted to do this. Expect layoffs at all levels. This will reverse any stimulus from the above tax cuts, but when government is small enough, it won't interfere with the interests of the very small number of people who really do own the country. Don't expect more jobs out of this.
R's have always been masters of media, since it is corporate they pretty much own it. They have successfully made Americans some of the least informed of the developed world. That's how they get elected. It is the genius of Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News minions: Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck....that they have brought people into the streets to rally for the Corporate (Republican) agenda. What's the matter with Kansas has gone nationwide. In the words of a real economist, Paul Krugman, "Banana Republic, here we come."