The proposals coming from the right today, whether from #45 or GOP leaders are not new. They are the same set of goals unleashed on America since the 70’s. Target the New Deal, reduce taxes from the top down, enhance the rich and corporations, reduce the size of government (except, of course, the military) and do this all while reducing or eliminate social programs that benefit working people. The only way to accomplish this, to sell this: they must lie; they must employ constant effective propaganda; they must alter the meaning of words or as Kellyanne Conway famously said “use alternate facts”.
In the article linked below, from the AlterNet, Thom Hartmann examines just how the GOP has mastered this ability to live in and convey a separate reality. They constantly push an economic myth with an unwavering consistency that, were it not false, could be viewed as admirable. Hartmann explains this via a popular Reagan advocate from the ’80s:
As Bruce Bartlett – one of the architects and major salespeople for Reagan’s tax cuts in the ‘80s – wrote in USA Today this week: “Virtually everything Republicans say about taxes today is a lie. Tax cuts and tax rate reductions will not pay for themselves; they never have. Republicans don’t even believe they will, they are just excuses to slash spending for the poor when revenues collapse and deficits rise. There is no evidence that tax reform raises growth, although it may improve fairness and tax administration.”
In this article, Hartmann’s premise is basically that from the days of Hoover until Barry Goldwater the Democrats were beating the Republicans on economic policies largely because while Republicans preaching “Lower taxes, reduce the size of government, and balance the budget”, the “Democrats always seemed like the bestowers of gifts”. Heck, the “most successful Republican of the 20th century up to that time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had been quite happy with a top income tax rate on multimillionaires of 91 percent.” That just does not fit with the Republican way. They were frustrated. “the Big Boys – the Masters of the Universe, as they sometimes called themselves – who ruled Wall Street and international finance” had to find a way to change things.
Republican frontrunners consistently tried to force change and right the ship. “Goldwater … rejected the ‘liberalism’ of Eisenhower, Rockefeller, and other ‘moderates’ within his own party.” A few years later, no progress seemed available while “Nixon and Ford believed in economic conservatism, they were afraid to practice it for fear of dooming their party to another 40 years in the electoral wilderness.” Republicans were at a loss, had no plan and watched as:
“Democrats kept high taxes on businesses and rich people to pay for things, which worked out just fine for working people (wages were steadily going up, in fact), and made the Democrats seem like a party of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to fund programs for the poor and the working class.”
Most of the world agreed that “economies are driven by demand,” with a rather fixed set of rules or assumptions. 1974, enter a young, frustrated Republican, Jude Wanniski, with a different idea:
“Wanniski decided to turn the classical world of economics – which had operated on this simple demand-driven equation for seven thousand years – on its head. In 1974 he invented a new phrase, ‘supply-side economics,’ and suggested that the reason economies grew wasn’t because people had money and wanted to buy things with it, but instead, because things were available for sale, thus tantalizing people to part with their money. The more things there were, the faster the economy would grow.”
Proof? Not necessary and it didn’t stop there, “Arthur Laffer was taking that equation a step further. Not only was supply-side a rational concept, Laffer suggested, but as taxes went down, revenue to the government would go up!” Republicans were once again excited. A two pronged plan seemed to be unfolding. “Neither concept made any sense—and time has proven both to be colossal idiocies—but together they offered the Republican Party a way out of the wilderness.” With this plan Republicans would begin to give people gifts too:
“by cutting people’s taxes! For working people it would only be a small token – a few hundred dollars a year on average – but would be heavily marketed. And for the rich it would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts. The rich, he said, would use that money to import or build more stuff to market, thus increasing supply and stimulating the economy. And that growth in the economy would mean that the people still paying taxes would pay more because they were earning more.”
Now all they needed was a salesman … poof … Reagan appeared and Americans wanted to listen to “the Gipper”, and boy did they. When “David Stockman came up with a great new theory about what was going on – they were ‘starving the beast’ of government by running up such huge deficits that Democrats would never, ever in the future be able to talk again about national health care or improving Social Security”.
So this is where we are today. We had “market theory” with high taxes on the wealthy and corporations and basic somewhat social equity, which has now been supplanted with the “theory of supply side economics” where we give massive tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations along with token tax breaks and unfulfillable promises to the working class. To keep this all afloat Republicans have had to ignore, deceive, utilize alternate facts and often just lie. This game of tax cuts, by the privileged, is not a new one. “In reality, … (these) … tax cuts did what they have always done over the past 100 years – they initiated a bubble economy that would let the very rich skim the cream off the top just before the ceiling crashed in on working people.” And so we have had the crashes of the 1920’s and recently 2008. The question is have we (the working class) learned anything.
Read the entire article by Thom Hartmann for much more on how these changes came about, who had the biggest influences, etc. It is now up to all of us, because democracy requires participation. Or, quoting how Hartmann usually ends his podcasts, “TAG, YOU’RE IT”.