By Lynn Paris
There is this strangely perverse part of me that would like to see the Republicans—most especially the ultra-conservatives and all those nutty tea-party candidates—really win big in this election. You know the ones . . . the witch and the sexter . . . the ones who refuse to debate and the ones who want to repeal Social Security and the Department of Education . . . the ones who’re racist and the ones who want to use 2nd Amendment remedies if necessary . . .all of them. I want to see what happens when all their buzz words: "debt” and “jobs,” “unemployment and "big spending" sweep them into power and they are finally forced to explain just how they plan to reduce the debt while cutting taxes on the rich, or put people back to work while cutting spending. It’s so much easier just saying, “No.”
I have yet to hear a single Republican candidate provide an answer when asked what government programs they’d be willing to cut. It amazes me that the people who are so angry about all this spending don’t demand to know what their heroes won’t be spending money on once they get elected.
What if it’s Medicare and they’re on Medicare? Or their mother is. After all, these ARE the same people who, when rallying against health care reform, held up signs saying, “Keep your hands off my Medicare!” I watched all the Sunday morning news shows and not one Republican even attempted to answer the question directly posed to them—what would you be willing to cut? They skirted around it, because they don’t HAVE to answer. Their base believes the lies. And, any answer they’d provide: defense, homeland security, social security . . . would rile up some of their base.
They do, however, talk incessantly about things that go unchallenged by the truth. I remember about six months into Obama’s term when one of my colleagues, an otherwise extremely intelligent woman, told me emphatically that Obama had tripled the deficit. And I, intimidated by her ability to have numbers like $1.3 trillion at her fingertips, didn’t have a response.
I’m so embarrassed by that, because all I would have had to do is go to the highly conservative Cato-liberty.org website where they wrote, “Critics sometimes blame Obama for things that are not his fault. Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.” Obviously conservatives know Obama didn’t triple the deficit, but they never miss an opportunity to say he did, as loud and as often as they can.
Tea-partiers also blame Obama for the bank bailouts, which actually happened under Bush, but who cares about an inconvenient truth. They blame him for the bailout of the auto industry too, failing to acknowledge that it worked, millions of jobs were saved and the money is being paid back. Hard core conservatives say none of that matters; government needs to stay out of private industry.
Just imagine how much angrier the tea partiers would have been if the auto industry had been allowed to go bust. No more General Motors. They’d have carried signs depicting Obama as the foreigner who killed our beloved, iconic auto industry and put millions of middle-class Americans out of work. There was really no winning on that one.
On the other hand, republicans don’t give Obama and the democrats nearly enough credit for the stimulus (aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) which they insist did not work. And who in the choir would argue with them? The fact is, according to the non-partisan CBO (Congressional Budget Office) the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs, probably saving this country from double-digit unemployment.
Did it really work? I would argue not well enough, but only because it didn’t go FAR enough. Before we fall apart completely, America needs infrastructure jobs, green energy jobs, jobs that build roads and schools, airports and high speed rail. . . jobs that create and innovate . . . millions of jobs that the government could stimulate with just a little more stimulus spending. The return on investment would be phenomenal.
Of course, if THAT happened, people would be employed and the republicans would be out of luck. There wouldn’t BE a tea party. So republican filibusters and naysayers did such a good selling job that congress is hamstrung. Everyone used to know that you have to spend money to make money. Now people seem to think that only an evil government would try to create jobs.
At any rate, I can’t wait to see what will happen if a whole lot of republicans, dominated by their most conservative wing and their tea party candidates, win their races. Democrats, no longer trembling in their boots by threats of seeming too liberal will probably become what they’ve always wanted to be: MORE liberal. They’d take totally crazy stands, like universal health care or getting out of Afghanistan. At which point the liberals and conservatives, in polar opposition to each other, will sit in perpetual deadlock on separate sides of the room, getting absolutely nothing done.
Either that, or I want the republicans to win big and take control of both houses of congress. And then they can do all those things they’ve promised to do to get this country back on the right track . . . like it was before. They can repeal health care reform; reduce the deficit; undo all the regulations on banks and oil companies like the good old days; cut taxes on the wealthiest one percent; and, after they figure out what to cut, cut spending, probably on entitlements. And education, because they do so much better with an uneducated electorate.
And we can all sit around and wait for the money to trickle down to the close-to-non-existent middle class from Wall Street and the big banks. Or for hell to freeze over.