Hot Corner: Exceptionalism at riskWritten by Don Burnard | | email@example.com
I am now convinced that the GOP is willing to turn our great nation into a third-world country in its zeal to keep Obama from being reelected. After watching John Boehner’s “response” to the president’s July 25 speech, there can be no doubt (if there ever was any) that the GOP will lie, dissemble and say anything to discredit Obama, the public’s interest be damned.
Obama has bent over backward to cave into their unwise demands, but even if he caved completely, once again they would move the goalposts and blame it on him. If they got a flat tire they would undoubtedly try to spin that it as Obama’s fault. Boehner, and most GOP responders, consistently speak as if they never listened to whatever speech they are responding to, and just as consistently, keep repeating the same old tired points that their corporate moneyed interests have provided, mixed in with the Tea Party’s unfounded beliefs that they are being taxed to death.
Obama said in his speech that he would back Harry Reid’s new plan, which gave the Repubs virtually everything they’ve been holding out for while containing no tax increases. In effect, he called their bluff. Boehner’s answer was to say that Obama was asking for a blank check and had no plan. Even though I think Reid’s plan is nothing short of abhorrent, it does indeed constitute a plan, so saying there is no plan is a flat lie. Boehner and the GOP rely on the fact that much, if not most, of the public pay little attention to details, so if they come up with a good sound bite, even if it’s a lie, chances are a portion of the public will believe it. What Reid’s plan does do, however, is prove that the deficit is not the GOP’s real concern. Defeating Obama at every turn is. It’s all politics. Governing responsibly doesn’t even enter into the picture.
Let’s look at some facts. Tax rates now are the lowest since Eisenhower was president. Taxes are remarkably lower than they were under the Repubs’ saint, Ronald Reagan. In seven of Reagan’s eight years in office, the top tax rate was higher than the current 35 percent. For six of those years, it was more than 50 percent. The bottom tax rate was more than 10 percent, the current rate, for his entire term. The average tax rate for a family of four was 11.06 percent under Reagan. Under Clinton in 1992, it was 9.18 percent, and under Obama in 2010, it was 4.68 percent. Under Reagan, income tax revenue ranged from 7.8 to 9.4 percent of the GDP. Last year, it was 6.2 percent. Ronald Reagan raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. He said it was important that everyone “pay their fair share”. (Thanks to Pat Garafalo of ThinkProgress). Clearly, we do have a revenue problem and not just a spending problem.
Another interesting fact that the GOP doesn’t bother to point out is that 90 percent of the deficit was run up under Republican administrations. Its newfound concern seems a little fatuous, given that they are responsible for most of the problem. The fact that they appear to be willing to default on the debts that they by and large ran up seems to run counter to their “families have to live within their means” dross that they are constantly repeating from their sheet of talking points.
Does your family run up huge tabs and then walk away and let other families pick up the bills? Especially on the backs of the poor, the elderly, and the middle-class? Mine doesn’t. How did these guys get a reputation for fiscal responsibility again? I must have missed something. Every family I know spends beyond what they have on hand. To be fair, we borrow to buy houses and automobiles. We borrow to pay for college educations for our children. No one I know borrows so we can give up those things that we hold dear so that the rich can get richer at our expense. That’s ridiculous, but that is what the GOP has done and wants to continue to do. Just tighten your belts. We’ll be OK. You, maybe not so much.
The other great lie is American exceptionalism. The thing that always made America exceptional was that her citizens banded together for the good of all, not just some exceptionally wealthy citizens. The discourse of today tells us that basically everything we are or could be, we owe to the wealthy. America didn’t become the most powerful nation on earth under the robber barons of yore. We went through the Great Depression thanks to those whose thought processes are similar to today’s, GOP built a vibrant middle-class, reined in the rampant greed and built a nation to be proud of. That’s what made America exceptional, and that’s the exceptionalism that is at risk today.
Email Don Burnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.