The word hubris means extreme pride or arrogance, and it most often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence and capabilities, especially when the person is in a position of power. The ultimate display of hubris is a person with power learning they are grossly incompetent and instead of admitting they are incapable of rational decisions or altering their policies, they double down on their incompetence with full knowledge there are devastating consequences.
Over the past four years, Republicans demonstrated extreme hubris in their incessant attempts to impose austerity on 98% of the American people despite every economist not affiliated with the Heritage Foundation warning of the tragic economic consequences of austerity during a recession. In spite of economic experts’ warnings, several nations’ austerity-driven distress, and an abundance of real-time proof that austerity retards economic growth and harms populations; Republicans deliberately hurt the American people and the nation’s economy. The latest sign America is doomed to continue its decline into a peasant nation is news that Republicans’ economic gurus Simpson-Bowles learned their austerity policy is based on flawed data and are still using the erroneous information to support Republican austerity.
Republican austerity is an integral part of their anti-government agenda to shift America’s wealth to the one-percent of income earners at the expense of their favorite targets, the elderly, Veterans, public sector workforce, and the poor. The worldwide austerity crusade ensnared most of the world after the 2008 Republican economic crash, and their “austerity or die” agenda originated with a flawed paper, “Growth in the Time of Debt” by two Harvard economists. Six months after the erroneous report was released, G-20 leaders adopted its findings as justification for deep austerity instead of addressing crushing unemployment around the world. In an ill-advised and short-sighted attempt at fiscal responsibility, just one month after the erroneous report, President Obama appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to head the Bipartisan National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility, and they immediately proposed deep austerity for 98% of America.
At the end of 2010, Bowles and Simpson recommended imposing “shared sacrifice” on 98% of Americans as punishment for the for the sin of Republicans’ debt, and reinforced the GOP’s belief that mass unemployment and increasing poverty is a sign of progress and fiscal responsibility. In their recommendation, Simpson-Bowles warned that increased government spending was a disaster and called for drastic cuts for the elderly, Veterans, and all government employees despite retirement and healthcare programs are funded by American workers. To understand the mindset of Erskine-Bowles and their billionaire club to “Fix the Debt,” in 2010 Simpson called senior citizens “the greediest generation” for expecting the retirement benefits they paid for, and compared “Social Security to a milk cow with 310 teats.” Both Simpson and Bowles, extremely wealthy white men, advocate raising the retirement age to 69, and slashing Social Security benefits to reduce the nation’s deficit regardless it does not add one penny to the debt; that was in 2010.
Fast forward to this week, and despite flawed data, Erskine-Bowles announced a new deficit reduction plan that raises the Medicare eligibility age and “seeks far more in savings from federal health programs for the elderly;” in other words, deeper austerity. When Simpson-Bowles learned their data was flawed, Bowles said, “I have obviously read the report and have referenced it a number of times. I know they had a worksheet error in the report and my understanding is that it does make a difference.” Undeterred, Simpson and Bowles then used the flawed information to recommend more damage to the economy and especially retirees, Veterans, and the poor that is particularly egregious given their admission the academic foundations of their economic theory is deeply flawed. For men tasked with finding ways to cut the deficit, Simpson-Bowles epitomize Republican fiscal irresponsibility and moral insensibility, and encouraged congressional Republicans to cut $2.5 trillion more from an already austere budget that is guaranteed to increase unemployment, staunch GDP growth, and set the nation on an irreversible path to a long-term economic recession.
It is time for Washington to come to grips with facts, and admit that job-killing, elderly starving, and child-poverty increasing austerity is a disaster based on erroneous data. The only three countries in the world that did not impose austerity in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 economic recession experienced growth, and were those that injected money into the economy through increased government spending. If President Obama does nothing else during his tenure as President, he will go down in history as saving America’s economy with the drastically undersized American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus). However, if he does not evict Simpson-Bowles from the grossly ill-advised Bipartisan National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility, he will go down in history as the President who knowingly allowed Republicans to use flawed data to send Americans into poverty and destroyed the tepid recovery he achieved while the rest of the world imposed austerity and suffered no growth and triple-dip recessions. President Obama is a smart man, and he has said over and over again that Republicans are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts, and now that the facts are in, and every nation that imposed austerity is struggling, it is time to put an end to the austerity that kills jobs, depresses the economy, and robs Americans of their retirement savings because Republicans and their deficit-reduction hysteria.
There is no economic justification for austerity during economic recovery, and after less than two months of witnessing the devastating effects of sequester austerity slated to ramp up over the next ten years, imposing more austerity is a deliberate and calculated assault on America and its people. It is unknown how many millions of Americans have already suffered the effects of Republican austerity, but with nearly a quarter of the nation’s children living in poverty, an infrastructure that ranks 25th below Oman and Barbados, and millions of public sector workers without jobs, it is obvious about 50-million poverty-level Americans are in distress. All the while, rich men like Simpson and Bowles knowingly use faulty data to embolden Republicans to ramp up austerity by cutting Medicare, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, domestic programs, and the world’s worst safety nets and the sad truth is they will succeed and America will fail which is precisely the Republican goal.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.