Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. – KY) was on NBC’s Sunday morning political talk program Meet The Press yesterday morning. It was an interesting conversation where McConnell spoke for several minutes, but never really said anything. In fact, it was rather thin in actual content. There was the usual Republican fare of don’t raise taxes, not talking about the Presidential nominees, talking about how Obama is wrong. Completely boring in that regard.
If it was that boring, why did I say that it was interesting? Well, there were two things that McConnell said, almost back to back, that really got my attention and actually sparked me doing some research for this blog post today. The first was McConnell talking about how taxing millionaires and billionaires under the proposed “Buffett Rule” would be bad for the economy. He then followed that up by talking about how the Republicans were able to reform Social Security in the 1980s and balance the budget in the 1990s under Presidents Reagan and Clinton. I found it particularly interesting that he used those two examples of how they saved programs and restored the economy, right after talking about how raising taxes is not the answer.
President Reagan’s famous reforming of Social Security involved raising taxes from both companies and workers to fund the Social Security program. That was the keystone of the reform, raising the rates from 4.5 percent to 6 percent. This provided more funds for the account, many of which were overages that helped fund Reagan’s defense spending and kept his presidential debt explosion from being even worse than it would have been. When Reagan reformed the income tax system, that also included raising taxes, which helped to bring the economy back from the brink, as Government was able to invest in programs that put people to work. It might not have been “shovel ready” projects, but the economy did recover and people did get back to work.
Again, under President Clinton, the budget was balanced, through a series of tax increases and spending cuts. The ratio was estimated at 25 percent new revenues to 75 percent spending cuts. The cuts that were made were not the draconian cuts taking place in Washington today. Tax increases got the economy out of the recession in 1990, helping to usher in the era of prosperity people talk about under President Clinton. Tax increases. Keep that in mind. Everyone talks about tax cuts creating jobs, yet the pattern is clearly showing the opposite, despite their being no direct correlation between the two. Raising taxes is what cost former President George H.W. Bush his second term, yet those tax increases along with the Clinton era tax increases led to an economy that was moving forward, growing rapidly, people were working and the budget was balanced.
Let us not forget that the Republicans were the ones who started cutting taxes in 2001 and 2003 immediately after taking office. The attacks of September 11, 2001 didn’t help the economy, nor did the busting of the tech bubble from the late 1990s. Unfunded wars waged on borrowed money in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t help matters. That just culminated with the busting of the mortgage bubble and the financial troubles that we’ve seen. Eight years of mismanagement, new expenditures without new revenues and a misguided belief that tax cuts create jobs led to one of the worst decades for working people since the 1930s. Now the party that cut the taxes, ran up the deficits, kept the wars off the official books wants to attack Obama for his spending, and they site things that President Bush instituted or put in motion. TARP? President Bush. Two wars that were completely off the books were added to the books starting in 2009, and immediately, the Republicans said that Obama was spending too much. It’s not too much spending that’s going on in Washington. It’s too few revenues.
Yes, I said it, again. It’s too few revenues being collected. When you depend on the middle class to fund the government, and then you have large sections of that population underemployed or unemployed, that takes a bite out of income for the government. Tax cuts over and over again haven’t been working. The American Jobs Act calls for new revenues, and for that purpose alone, I think the program will do more for the American economy than the massive tax cuts that ushered in the worst decade since the 1930s for the American people. The AJA, or American Jobs Act, is a start. I don’t think it’s enough to really get the nation back on track, but at least it’s a start.
Republicans are aware that the program would work, hence their united stance against the program. They have made it their mission to ensure that President Obama was a one-term president. They have gone about this by becoming the party of no and obstinate resistance, even to their own ideas. This complete resistance to any idea from the President has created a new situation that engenders even less faith in Congress than most people had before. There are major problems that are looming and taking place for the American people, and the government is divided like a kindergarten class where the girls are running away from the boys. This separation between the people and the government, the divisive rhetoric and the inability of people to budge from their ideological ground to reach compromise does not spell a happy future for the country. That’s another topic for another day.
Back to the point, seeing McConnell use those two examples of how things improved, immediately after talking about not raising taxes, was like hearing someone say, “You can have two candies, but you can’t eat them”. It just made absolutely no sense. The rest of his talk on Meet The Press was rather mundane and standard. It was talking points and avoiding answering questions, typical Republican media fare. If it isn’t Fox News, they aren’t talking about anything of any substance. It is such a shame, since programs such as Meet The Press were a staple in how people learned about politics and were able to see tough questions with difficult answers.
The disconnect that McConnell has between those programs and tax increases just shows how politicians care less for the facts and more about remaining in power. It’s not a government working for the people, it’s a government working for their next paycheck. Fitting, since most people in this country are fighting for their next paycheck as well. Paychecks that would pay taxes, giving the government more money, allowing it to do more for those same people. Rocket science, this isn’t.
NBC. (Sept. 18, 2011). Meet The Press.