Propaganda is spreading false ideas, misinformation, and rumors for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Throughout history there have been some very successful propaganda campaigns that caused immeasurable pain, death, and suffering for targets of negative propaganda campaigns. Likely one of the most successful efforts to spread lies and rumors in modern history was Nazi Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels once said that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Thus it is vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie.” If Goebbels were still alive, he likely would applaud Republicans who have spent thirty years spreading lies and misinformation that if the government is out of the way, eliminates regulations, and gives the richest one-percent of income earners more wealth they will create jobs and usher in a robust economy.
On Tuesday, the Republican Party’s minister of propaganda, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO gave his “state of American business” address that was replete with well-worn propaganda that the economy is failing because President Obama is not following man-god Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economic theory. Tom Donahue followed the Republican Party’s economic script to the letter and unveiled the Chamber’s wide-ranging plan to grow the economy that is a rehash of Willard Romney’s economic agenda had he been elected president. Not only did Donahue parrot the decades-old GOP lie that more jobs are dependent on eliminating taxes hurting the rich and their corporations, abolishing “unsustainable entitlements” such as Social Security and Medicare, and ending regulations, he blamed President Obama for deliberately strangling economic recovery.
Donahue wasted little time laying out the Chamber’s economic agenda he claimed will put 21 million Americans back to work if Obama gets out of the way and lets the oil industry drill wherever they want, drastically cut taxes for the rich and corporations, and gut regulatory programs he claimed is stifling economic recovery and hurting corporations. He also brushed aside the idea that the economy is recovering slowly because of the Great Recession and claimed recovery “has been the slowest and weakest since World War II.“ Then he railed against President Obama’s “painful taxes, unsustainable entitlements, and robust regulatory program” as the reason “the economy has struggled to regain its footing.”
It is interesting the Donahue harkened back to after World War II because the reason America’s economy recovered and built the strong middle class was because the tax rate for the richest Americans was over 90%, government invested heavily in infrastructure and job programs, and spent revenue to educate and provide decent homes for returning soldiers. What Donahue left out of his propaganda criticizing the President’s “painful taxes” and “out of control government spending” is that taxes and government spending are at their lowest levels since World War II. Any reasonable human being would understand the reason the nation recovered after World War II was precisely because taxes on the wealthy were high and government spending created jobs and grew the economy until Reagan came along and parroted Donahue’s contention that taxes, regulations, and entitlements were killing jobs and economic growth.
Republicans and the Chamber have stuck with Reagan’s propaganda for thirty years, and except for Bill Clinton’s presidency, jobs, wages, and the economy have struggled under Republican administrations pushing the “get government out of the way” meme. For the record, during the Clinton administration taxes were higher and there was an increase in regulations that helped the economy create 22 million jobs, and there was no Republican plot to deliberately obstruct economic growth and kill jobs.
According to Donahue, the key to more jobs, higher wages, and a robust recovery is building the KeystoneXL pipeline and increasing offshore oil drilling that will do nothing for Americans. The nation is already exporting more oil and gas than any other country except Saudi Arabia. Donahue also repeated Republicans’ contention that repealing the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law would create jobs and grow the economy which is precisely what John Boehner said two days ago. Donahue even weighed in on the Education Department’s “gainful employment” rule that he said was unfair to private sector colleges and universities because it requires them to offer programs to “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” Donahue did not elaborate how the Chamber opposing a common sense education rule will create jobs and usher in a robust recovery, but elaboration is unnecessary for a nationally recognized propagandist spreading false information and rumors.
Donahue resorted to the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and National Rifle Association tactic of putting lawmakers on notice that if they do not toe the Chamber’s line, it will reserve its considerable clout for those who support business-friendly policies. He told the gathered business leaders that “In primaries and in the general election, we will support candidates who want to work to solve the nation’s problems and who understand business is the solution.” According to Donahue, Americans are out of work and recovery is sluggish solely because Obama’s “policies have slowed growth and cost Americans a lot of jobs, and a lot of raises” despite Republicans have killed millions of jobs and oppose hiking the minimum wage to give millions of Americans raises. It is also noteworthy that the Chamber of Commerce generally, and Tom Donahue specifically, opposed legislation to tax companies that outsourced American jobs or reward those that brought jobs back to America, and Donahue spent no small amount of time praising the benefits of American companies shipping jobs overseas.
As a propaganda minister, Donahue faithfully spread false ideas (trickle-down creates jobs), misinformation (repealing Dodd-Frank and the ACA creates jobs), rumors (taxes under Obama are painfully high), and a blatant lie that eliminating “entitlements and taxes” is the key to creating jobs and growing the economy. It is likely that Republicans and Donahue have told a lie big enough and kept repeating it for thirty years leading ignorant people to believe taxes are painfully high, Social Security and Medicare kill jobs, and that regulations kill jobs. However, for any American experiencing declining wages, jobs lost to outsourcing, and suffering from safety net cuts, the thirty year lie is just bad propaganda they are unlikely to fall for again.
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.