Counting the Ways: The GOP Is Bad on Economy

Let’s make this easy.

A lot of bad things have happened over the past 40 years and every single one of them is traceable to the Republican Party. That’s not hyperbole, really. I know, a lot of you believe that Democrats have done some horrible things, especially that Bill Clinton, that scalliwag, but it’s really not true. If you go back, even some of the bills and laws that Democrats shouldn’t have gone along with would not have existed without Republicans being in charge. Think about it; yes, welfare “reform” is a disaster that shouldn’t have happened, but it wouldn’t have existed had we not put Republicans in charge of Congress. Likewise, it’s possible to make the case that the Crime Bill turned into a disaster, but let’s get real; at the time it was crafted, police in many civic governments were ignoring areas of their cities that were turning into drug war zones. And most of the most draconian bullshit came at the state level, not the federal. The courts did not become clogged because of federal crimes, but state crimes. It’s not the Federal government that came up with “Three Strikes.”

Seriously, when you think about it, when it comes to tx money, the GOP sucks. Start with healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a major improvement over what we had before, but have you thought about what made the old health insurance system so bad? Blame Republican Richard Nixon. When Ted Kennedy and Congressional Democrats announced their intention to create a universal health insurance system, Nixon, being a smarter politician than current Republicans, decided that he had to protect insurance companies, but he realized that something had to give. That was when he proposed Health Maintenance Organizations as an alternative. Unlike current Republicans, he at least had the stones to admit there was a problem that needed to be solved. Unfortunately, the “solution” created even more problems. Why, you ask? Under the HMO concept, insurance companies gave healthcare delivery companies a set amount of money at the beginning of the year, and whatever the hospitals didn’t use, they would be able to keep. Gosh, what could go wrong there, right? Encouraging doctors to spend as little as possible on each patient and then dropping those patients who used more than their share? How could that ever screw up the system?

Anyone who was alive in the 1970s remembers the era of “stagflation.” That, too was the brilliance of Republican thinking. See, after 1970, two things were at play. Not only were “progressives” abandoning the Democratic Party in droves, so were the Dixiecrats, all of whom were becoming Republicans. During the 1960s, Democrats had a supermajority and there were also such people as “liberal Republicans.” Democrats had to compromise too much. Therefore, when Nixon killed the gold standard, there were no longer enough Democrats and liberal Republicans in Congress to overcome the asinine GOP approach to its aftermath. Nixon did two extremely stupid things. The first was to institute a “banking system” to keep gas prices artificially low because $1 gas was considered politically suicidal. So, while our grocery prices were climbing through the roof, at least we could fill the tank for $5, right? Our parents couldn’t afford sugar, but at least that one tank of gas they had to buy every week was still cheap. I worked at a small grocery store in my hometown at the time and I remember having to change prices daily on some things, especially coffee and sugar. The other stupid thing he did was the 90-day wage-price freeze, which just made prices go up more after 90 days. This crap went on for about six years, until President Jimmy Carter hired Paul Volcker and they fixed it together. Yes, we had high interest payments for a few years, but it did get fixed.

The problem is the GOP tendency to leave things alone and let them fix themselves, which is no way to run a government or an economy. All markets need manipulation, the question is, who gets to do the manipulation. As the GOP sees things, “the market” should do it, as if it happens naturally. The problem with that is what’s happening now; the rich have the most money, which means, when the government representing all of the American people isn’t handling the manipulation, then rich Americans are doing it. That’s because they have the resources and the rest of us do not.

Does anyone think it’s just coincidence that, as of 1980, the total federal debt was $900 billion and now it’s approaching $20 trillion? Throughout history, including several wars, we only managed to rack up $900 billion in debt. Then, with Republicans in charge, that was tripled in eight years. In the wake of the Great Depression and World War II, during the greatest economic boom in the history of the world, the national debt went from 120% of GDP to 32% of GDP, where it was when Jimmy Carter was replaced by Saint Ronald of Reagan. Since then, with Republicans controlling either the budget apparatus or the purse strings or both for 32 of the last 36 years, we’re back to having a debt that is 110% of GDP. Hell, George W Bush and a Republican Congress managed to take what was estimated to be a decade of large surpluses and turn them into deficits that made the earlier ones look tame.

I know, deficits have little to do with the economy, per se. However, they do point to fiscal irresponsibility and the GOP has Democrats beat by a wide margin. Not only that, but what do we have to show for all of these deficits? On the one hand, you can make the case that holding Treasury Bonds is great for the economy, but at what point do we figure out that we need to create jobs and create new wealth if we’re to become economically strong again? The problem is, we can’t do that with Republicans in charge. They want a completely unregulated market and they operate under the false impression that government should never manipulate markets, even as every economy we compete with does exactly that?

If you want an economy that grows in a sustainable way and that pays people what they’re worth and provides basic goods and services at a fair price, that’s never going to happen with Republicans in charge. If you look closely, every major economic downturn since the 1929 crash has Republican fingerprints all over it. The worst one was the Bush Recession of 2008, of course, but before that, there was a huge recession during Reagan’s first term, another small one during Bush 41’s term. And there were actually TWO under Bush, Jr. Meanwhile, when was the last recession under a Democratic Administration? Good luck with finding that.

More on this later, but suffice it to say, if you want progressive things to happen, rejoin the Democratic Party. It’s always worked before…

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