About a week ago, a Right-Wing caller into one of the major Progressive radio-shows I listen to called President Bush “a Liberal”. Saturday, one of my YouTube videos drew the same “accusation”. Of all the things George W. Bush was, “a Liberal” was not one of them. Liberals don’t view government as “evil”, but as a potential force for good (I’ve always wondered about politicians who condemn government while running for office, or the voters that elect those same politicians in the mistaken belief they will somehow make government better.) The reasoning of both men was that Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility automatically made him “a Liberal”… because in their mind, that’s what a Liberal is. Take the test:
|President #1||President #2||
So which is the “fiscally irresponsible Liberal” and which is the “frugal Conservative”? President #1 is Ronald Reagan. President #2 is Bill Clinton.
But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. Conservatives equate “big spender” with “Liberal”, because that is the extent of their knowledge of what “Liberal” means. Spend money like a drunken sailor, increase the National Debt and expand the size of government, you must be a “Liberal”.
George Bush wasn’t a Conservative, that’s true. But spending doesn’t make one a “Liberal” either as the above test points out. Bush was a NeoCon… “neo-Conservative”. His Administration went on a deregulatory binge that led to the financial disaster on Wall Street and a 3/4 of a Trillion dollar bailout while employment was already tumbling. And while the markets were struggling to stave off the coming economic collapse on Wall Street, Bush went on a cross-country speaking tour in 2006 trying talk the county into privatizing Social Security. That’s not “Liberal” by anyone’s definition.
So this got me thinking of all the other Right-Wing Talking Points that we hear but no one ever asks them to explain:
Here in Texas, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson is in a mudslinging contest with incumbent Governor “Good Hair” Rick Perry, who was Dubya’s two-term Lieutenant Governor before Bush ran for President in 2000 and has been our governor ever since (winning reelection in 2007 with just 39% of the vote in a carefully orchestrated four-way race). Outside of Texas, Perry is a punchline, openly joking about “secession”. And now, he is running a TV ad (currently not online) where he comes out, unambiguously, as a Tenther (defined)… which is code for rejecting “Government healthcare” if offered.
In 2006, Joe Lieberman’s reelection website was “ConnecticutForLieberman.com”… not “Lieberman for Connecticut”, because, as was later noted, “It’s all about Joe”. It’s always been all about Joe. As we’ve seen in the health care debate, the Iraq War and supporting the Republican candidate for President, the only person Joe cares about is Joe.
Here in Texas, the top two Republican candidates for governor, Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchinson have their own websites. You guessed it: TexansForPerry.com and TexansForKay.com. To be fair to Perry, a cyber-squatter is sitting of “PerryForTexas.com”, but “KayForTexas.com” and “KayForTexans.com” both redirect you to “TexansForKay.com”. Something about those Republicans that think “it’s all about them“.
Hutchinson won reelection in 2006 by throwing GWB under the bus, criticizing Gitmo and citing the need “to bring our troops home and end the war in Iraq”. Of course, with her reelection, she joined the GOP chorus to criticize then-candidate Obama in 2008 for wanting to end the war in Iraq and now attacks his support for terrorism trials to be held in civilian courts instead of Gitmo. If you’re surprised by the about-face, you probably WERE born yesterday.
Anyway, Hutchinson quickly picked up the “Health Care Reform would be a government takeover” football and has been running with it ever since. I doubt a campaign stop has gone by where she didn’t vow to “stop the government takeover of health care.” I would just LOVE the chance to ask her about this because there’s no way to defend the accusation without sounding like Michelle Bachman’s even-crazier half sister. So without further ado, I give you my…
“Republican to English dictionary”:
1) Talking Point #1: denouncing Health Insurance Reform as a “government takeover of health care” despite the fact that the government isn’t threatening to seize control of hospitals or put a single doctor on the government payroll. Here’s how they explain it:
If the government offers insurance, it will be SO cheap and SO popular it will put private insurers out of business, leaving people with no choice but the government from which to buy insurance. Eventually, with all insurance companies out of business, there’s nothing to stop the government from taking over the entire health care industry.
Yes, the government insurance that would lead to “death panels” and “rationed care” would be SO popular, “everyone” would sign up and put the private insurance industry out of business. Got that? Me neither.
And how long before this “takeover”… this eventual total collapse of the entire health insurance industry followed by the government socializing all hospitals and doctors… is complete? One year? Five? Ten? Well, actually, even IF this far fetched scenario took place, it would likely take 30-50 years. How do I know? The court battles alone over “seizing” privately owned hospitals could tie up the courts for decades. And I don’t see the Federal government going on a “construction binge” building brand new government-owned hospitals across the country simply to circumvent buying existing hospitals. I’d also like to point out that despite warning labels, high taxes and city ordinances, the government has yet to put the tobacco industry out to pasture. The GOP would like you to think this would all happen virtually over night.
But it’s a ridiculous scenario to begin with. Other nations with a “public option”, most notably Japan, have thriving a private insurance industry. Will they have to adjust? Of course! That is the point after all of including a public option. Prices come down, insurance companies cut costs and coverage increases. If you can’t do that, then you deserve to go out of business.
2) Claiming “the Stimulus hasn’t created one (net) new job“. I put “net” in parenthesis because that word was added only just last week as millions of people were pointing to their job as either being created or saved by the Stimulus. The Republican argument before that was “we’re still losing jobs”, ergo, the lack of positive employment numbers was “proof” the Stimulus “hadn’t created any new jobs”. Because in Republican-Land, if you haven’t gone from losing 700,000 jobs a month to zero in just one year, whatever you are doing isn’t working.
The Obama White House wisely put out the following graph showing that job growth is clearly moving in the right direction:
Many pundits pointed out the number of Republicans citing jobs in their state that were created by the Stimulus. Even President Obama ridiculed them to their face for bashing the Stimulus while posing for publicity photos with giant Publishers-Clearinghouse sized checks. Their credibility on the issue plummeted quickly, forcing them to revise their wording at last week’s CPAC convention, now claiming “the Stimulus hasn’t created one NET new job.”
Looking at the above graph, who would you rather have in charge of the economy? The Party that spent eight years getting us here, or the one that’s digging us out?
3) Teabaggers screaming President Obama “raised our taxes” even after getting a tax cut. President Obama cut taxes for 95% of Americans (and holding steady for another 3%), so unless there are FAR more corporate titans in America than anyone thought… enough to populate these Teabagger rallies with hundreds of protesters in cities across the nation, chances are President Obama didn’t raise their taxes. So how do they explain this disconnect?
When I asked a Conservative friend, the argument was that “taxes raised on the so-called rich simply get passed along to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.” Ah! So much for their faith in the “Free Market” to keep prices low. Paris Hilton can protest her taxes going up as much as she wants; I don’t foresee ticket prices for her movies going up any.
Maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t it follow then that prices would go DOWN if we just cut their taxes? We tried that under George W Bush. Funny, but I don’t remember things getting cheaper as a result. Nor did they create more jobs with all that extra untaxed income… which was the original argument for cutting their taxes.
There is a new (?) viral email making the rounds right now “pointing out” that the economy didn’t tank “until Democrats took charge of Congress in 2007″… a myth I debunked all the way back in March of last year, and the fantastic economy under Bill Clinton was when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.
While this is an interesting rewrite of history, the most glaring question is, “I thought you said Clinton left Bush with a Recession?” For how many years did we hear Republicans deflect blame for the pitiful Bush economy by blaming Clinton? Who now, again, was in charge of Congress when Bush was supposedly “handed a Recession”? You can’t have it both ways, folks. Either the Clinton economy was great while you were in charge or it wasn’t. Make up your mind. And if I remember correctly (and I do), those exact same Republicans were still in charge when Bush took office and the economy continued to sink. The Market wasn’t exactly on the rebound either by September 10th. To the contrary, the DOW continued to lose another 1452 points over the next seven-and-a-half months.
It’s a common theme to condemn Democrats who were elected to fix Republican-caused disasters, for not fixing those disasters fast enough. Republicans need people to believe their disasters are the Democrats fault because Democrats are in charge when their economic timebombs go off. Radio’s Thom Hartmann calls this “the two Santa Clauses Theory“, where Republicans promise voters “tax cuts” and “government services” while borrowing frightening sums of cash to pay for it all, and then demonizing Democrats for raising taxes and borrowing additional money (at a much slower rate) to fix the mess they left. Then voters, unhappy with having to live within their means, return to the people promising both low taxes and more services (while ratcheting up the National Debt).
What happens to all that hysteria over the Debt while Republicans are in charge? The GOP does an amazing job of rallying their “low information” voter base to take to the streets and feign outrage over something that has been a problem for years once they are no longer in charge.
The very first video I ever posted to YouTube was when the National Debt broke the $10Trillion dollar mark in mid 2006 (before Democrats retook Congress btw). Where were the Teabaggers then??? Less than five and a half years after President Clinton left a less than $5Trillion dollar Debt that was shrinking thanks to a balanced budget and budget surplus, Bush and the Republican controlled Congress had more than doubled the National Debt and turned the surplus into a record deficit. So pardon me when I question the Tea Parties sincerity over controlling the size of the Debt. But now, with fewer tax dollars coming in, the government needs to borrow more money to get the economy moving again. And the Baggers are in hysterics.
I used to write a lot about the size of the National Debt under George Bush. I haven’t written much on the subject since. Why? Am I giant hypocrite? No. Let me explain:
It takes money to run the Federal government. Lots of money. And when you have high employment and lots of people paying taxes into the system, you don’t need to borrow that much to make up the “difference”… which we call “the deficit”. The biggest drains on our economy now are the Bush Tax Cuts and the two Bush Wars. President Obama has taken Defense Cuts off the table and shifted part of the Bush Tax Cuts over to lower income Americans, so that leaves just borrowing and spending to make up the difference.
Now everyone thinks we can cut spending. But two problems with that: one, you can’t cut spending without cutting someones job, and two, there just isn’t that much left to cut after you take Defense off the table. Republicans would then have us make deep, vain gushing cuts into “entitlements”… namely, things like the “Medicare” that Teabaggers demand the government to keep its hands away from… and Social Security… which Bush campaigned to privatize the year before the Stock Market collapsed.
So now you have to borrow. And if you want to create jobs and fund new industries, it has to be a lot. The irony is that this wouldn’t be such a huge problem if George Bush hadn’t added $6 trillion to the National Debt with nothing to show for it. More money was lost to the Bush Tax Cuts than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The tax cuts that they said were “necessary to create jobs”… how’d that work out for ya?
Quote of the Day:
“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” – Jonathan Swift
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