While the media has been busy for months entertaining Americans by covering an entertainer and Koch Republicans running for the nation’s highest political office, there have been reports informing Americans why any Republican is an economic catastrophe waiting to happen. Republicans and their conservative media are wont to portray America’s economy as a disaster under Democratic Administrations, but like the last Democrat in the White House, President Obama reached another remarkable economic milestone and nobody cared because nobody knew; corporate media was too busy covering the Republican clown show.
A few months ago when the Republican presidential field was about double what it is now, mainstream media was completely focused on being “fair and balanced” by devoting all their airtime to the GOP circus. The media should have trumpeted the news that President Barack Obama had “virtually eliminated the over $1.4 trillion deficit legacy he inherited from the Bush administration” and reduced it to $439 billion in fiscal 2015 (Sept. 30).
According to economic experts, under President Barack Obama “the deficit was normalizing for the first time in 50 years; since 1965.” The deficit has continued to fall with the latest monthly report showing a budget surplus coming in at a respectable $55 billion and the Department of Treasury explained why;
“Strong growth in individual tax collection drove the U.S. budget deficit to a fresh Obama-era low in fiscal 2015. The deficit is the smallest of Barack Obama’s presidency and the lowest since 2007 in both dollar terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product.”
What the DOT report did not mention was that “as a percentage of the economy, the deficit is now down to just 2.5 percent which is below the average of the past half-century, and down from 9.8 percent when the president took office.”
It is more than noteworthy to highlight why the deficit dropped substantially over the past couple of years: “Strong growth in individual tax collection.” Republicans love to claim that only slashing spending decreases the deficit, but like any business or family knows; increased revenue is what really pays down debt. This is critically important because every one of the Republican presidential hopefuls is proposing massive tax cuts for the rich that will “eliminate growth in individual tax collection” and, as history perpetually proves, drives the deficit through the proverbial ceiling.
The President’s economic feat is particularly noteworthy because that record deficit reduction occurred despite instituting monumental healthcare reform, increasing defense spending, and enacting a substantial economic stimulus package that included significant tax cuts for all Americans. Still, despite the President cleaning up the Bush-Republican mess, every one of the Republican candidates claim they are best suited to correct Obama’s economic disaster, “rein in the deficit” and grow the economy with massive tax cuts for the richest Americans.
Now, the leading Republican candidates want to reverse President Obama’s gains with huge tax cuts for the rich that helped create the Bush deficit the President worked to erase. There is a handy little chart here that lays out all of the current candidates’ “concrete tax reform proposals,” and to no-one’s surprise every Republican drastically slashes taxes for the wealthiest Americans. All but one of the leading candidates (Hillary Clinton) actually raise taxes on the poor and middle class, and all Republicans want to eliminate taxation altogether on most of the richest Americans’ sources of income. The Republicans are also extremely generous to corporations.
What is missing in all of the Republicans’ tax cutting madness is how they will pay for them. And no, although the GOP candidates raise taxes on the poor and middle class, those hikes will not begin to cover the Republicans’ largesse to the rich and corporations. In fact, even making monumental cuts to education, transportation, health and safety, and social programs will not pay for the GOP’s promised tax cuts; the deficit will explode.
As an aside, the two Democratic candidates both raise taxes on the rich. Senator Sanders’ proposals inflict some very serious hikes on the rich, but there are also moderate increases on every other American. It is in keeping with the senator’s assertion that although he promises free college and healthcare for every American, he also said that yes, he will have to raise taxes on everyone. Lower-earning Americans may believe they will get more free stuff, but as Senator Sanders says, nothing is really free. Everyone will have to pay something in the form of higher taxes; it is an honest and reasonable assumption.
If Americans need another reminder of what happens when Republicans slash taxes on the rich and corporations, they do not have to think back to the Bush years; there are at least four Republican-governed states drowning in debt and deficit like America was before Barack Obama took office.
Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Wisconsin are all suffering massive job losses, crushing debt and deficits, credit downgrades, no economic growth, and historic cuts to education and social programs due to GOP governors’ tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Three of those governors aspired to the White House and, although Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Chris Christie exited the race, their tax plans were no different than any of the remaining Republicans. Any one of those four Republican-led states’ economic catastrophe portend exactly what America has to look forward to if a Republican is in the White House; except the damage will be incredibly more devastating and worse than the giant Bush disaster it took President Obama six long years to clean up.
One might think that the nation’s record deficit reduction and economic growth under President Obama would silence Republicans and disabuse any American voter of their belief that Democrats are disastrous for the economy; if those Americans were aware of President Obama’s achievements.
The real problem is that many Americans still believe the Republican claims that massive tax cuts for the rich will stimulate the economy and accept the lie as gospel that the deficit is growing. If American voters believe those lies they will vote, in droves, for Republican candidates who will deliver massive tax cuts for the wealthy and claim that eliminating public investments and social programs is the only way to fund them.
If Americans really believe, and polls show that 73 percent do, that the deficit is getting bigger, these same voters will vote for the Republican candidate who will slash public investments, decimate every social program in existence, and cut tax revenue “to rein in the deficit and grow the economy” which will have real-world consequences of exploding the deficit and creating another economic catastrophe. If that occurs the media will certainly be culpable for staying silent about why the deficit fell drastically under President Obama; he raised taxes by 3 measly percent on the wealthiest Americans and wiped out 8 years of Bush deficit in the process.
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.