Thursday, September 15, 2011

Republican Strategy: The Two Santa Claus Theory

In order to understand the current political landscape, one must understand what the long-term strategy of the Republican party is. By now, it should be obvious that the GOP is only interested in power and that they are willing to throw this country under the bus in order to take back the White House. So, let's go back to 1974 to understand the big picture. If you analyze government spending and the national debt by President, you will see that the national debt is actually mostly attributable to Republican presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. Why is that? Simply put, the two Santa Claus theory.Thom Hartmann, radio host and prolific author, wrote this comprehensive article on the Two Santa Claus Theory a couple of years ago, so you can read in its entirety, but here it is in a nutshell.

Democrats care about people. They believe that in this great nation, we should work together to help others. They put in place hugely popular programs like Social Security that have greatly reduced poverty among the elderly and ensure that widows and the disabled have a safety net. They structured Social Security in such a way that ensures it is a sustainable program. We each pay into the program through payroll taxes, and when we reach retirement age, we draw benefits. Even though the Republicans have been screaming that Social Security is bankrupt and in crisis for years now, the fact of the matter is that it is an extremely successful program that has never missed a payment and can pay 100% of benefits for next 20 or so years. If we implemented the simple fix of raising the cap on those payroll deductions so that those making over $106,000 continue to pay, it would be solvent forever. But I digress. Because Democrats care about people and put in place programs that actually help people, Republicans think of them as the first "Santa Claus".

The Republicans realized that they could never be as popular as the Democrats and needed to come up with a way to also be a "Santa Claus". Thus was born the mantra of cutting taxes. Cutting taxes is how Republicans are Santa Claus. And because they believe in supply-side economics, which absolutely does not work, they theorized they could increase spending too - just not on those social programs they hate. As Thom Hartman writes:
Republicans could be double Santa Clauses 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, in turn, 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.
Of course, since supply side economics doesn't actually work - revenue does NOT go up when you lower taxes - huge deficits build up under Republican presidents contributing to over 2/3 of the national debt.  They actually took advantage of this with a new twist - "starving the beast". This strategy seeks to hamper Democrats' ability to play Santa Claus when they are in power by running up huge deficits and then when Democrats come into power, forcing them to be the mature, responsible ones and rein in spending and raise taxes to put things back on track. Does this sound familiar? It should. When George W. Bush was in office, I did not hear one peep from Republicans about deficits or debt, did you? But the second President Obama took office? Here comes the Tea Party screaming about cutting spending, lowering taxes, the national debt and on and on.  The same thing actually happened with Bill Clinton as well. He balanced the budget and implemented welfare reform. Remember,  he handed a budget surplus to George W. Bush, who quickly got rid of it by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and spending billions on the unnecessary war in Iraq.

So there you have it. The Republicans have been playing this game for years, and it seems to be working like a charm right now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"I Wish 9/11 Never Happened!"

"I wish 9/11 never happened!!" That is what my 9-year-old son said this morning when I turned off the TV  and said I couldn't watch the coverage of the 10-year anniversary anymore. He knew what I meant immediately. "It's too painful?" he asked. Yes, too painful. Most years, I avoid television coverage on the anniversary of 9/11. I don't want to relive that day. I started boycotting the coverage, because I imagined the terrorists sitting around in Afghanistan or wherever, enjoying the hell out of the annual angst this country goes through, enjoying seeing our pain, our sadness, our anger, our fear. After all, isn't that the primary goal of terrorism? To instill pain and fear? That day was a glorious success for them, and part of me wished we could just forget it and not give them the satisfaction. I avoided coverage, avoided seeing those images again, avoided feeling the shock and horror.

"I wish 9/11 never happened!" I tried to think of something soothing to say as I headed upstairs to hide my tears from my sons; like something positive that came out of it, some profound lesson we all learned, some lasting unity brought to our great nation. But no, I couldn't come up with anything, and so I just continued up the stairs, surprised at how much pain and sadness the coverage brought to the surface.

"I wish 9/11 never happened!" I do too. I wish those people didn't die. Each person was a son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father, brother, sister, friend. Each story is unbelievably sad. I watched a special last night on the History channel that focused on voices heard on that day, crying the whole time: voicemail messages left by people in the upper floors telling their loved ones goodbye; a recording of the radio dispatches from the firefighter who made it all the way to the 77th floor of the South Tower, before it collapsed into a mountain of dust; stories from family members who actually got to talk to their loved one live on the phone who were trapped, awaiting their fate. Every single story is tragic and heartbreaking, and there are thousands of them from that day, an overwhelming thought.

I wish this country had not spent billions of dollars on futile wars, causing the loss of so many additional people.

I wish our fear had not been used to trample our civil rights and protections under the Constitution and justify torture.

I wish that a whole religion had not been tainted by the acts of a radical few, leading to bigotry, discrimination and hatred.

I wish the 9/11 first responders who survived were not still suffering today from a variety of illnesses and injuries. I wish they didn't have to fight for benefits to cover these illnesses.

I wish the twin towers were still standing.

I wish 9/11 never happened.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My grassroots fundraising page for President Obama

I watched President Obama's job speech last night, and it inspired me. Seeing the Republicans refuse to show support for the very reasonable measures the President is proposing to get this economy moving again was appalling. We must get out in force in 2012 and not only re-elect President Obama but sweep the Republicans and their obstructionism out of Congress. To combat big money unleashed by Citizens United, we must start building a grassroots organization now. That's why I started my own grassroots fundraising page today for Obama For America 2012. Here is what I said:
In the fall of 2008, I was inspired to start a blog - Working Mom, Democrat, Patriot - to share my thoughts on the presidential campaign. The 2008 election was extremely important, but 2012 is even more critical. We must re-elect President Obama so that he can continue his efforts to dig us out of the mess created by the previous administration. We must send a strong message to the other side that obstructionism and putting politics above country is unacceptable. If President Obama is going to win, we need to build a grassroots campaign that's bigger and stronger than anything we've built before. He will need donations from real people like you and me to compete against the special interest and corporate money unleased by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Please help me reach my fundraising goal by donating today. Thank you!
I hope you can check out my page and perhaps even donate.