budget, debt, debt crisis, economics, economy, GOP, Grover Norquist
The name Grover Norquist is a lot like that of Orly Taitz, you figure it’s a symbolic cultural name, like Kilroy, and can’t possibly be a real person.
Unfortunately, in the case of Norquist, he is all too real. He’s got decent creds, a BA and MBA from Harvard, and he’s put in the time to learn his conservative ways. And he owns the Republican party pretty much.
How he came to do that is not my concern here. Suffice to say, he’s managed to get the pledge-hungry GOP to sign off in overwhelming numbers not to raise taxes under any, and I do mean any, circumstances.
He appeared on Chris Matthews yesterday, and as I listened to him twisting this whole debt crisis to a “we have no choice but resist the intransigence of the President and his obsession with raising taxes.” Chris managed to elicit from Grover what all already know, “NO TAXES EVER FOR ANY REASON.” When Matthews points out that the GOP was offered a 3-to-1 deal of $3 of spending cuts for $1 of revenue, Grover, replied with what has become a GOP mantra: Tip your head to the side, look confused, and then offer:
Why on earth would you raise taxes when we have a spending problem?
Over and over in the weeks and months that have led us to the edge of the abyss, we hear that phrase. We have a spending problem. This is often coupled with “everyone knows that you don’t raise taxes when you are in a recession.” I guess somebody ought to have told “near-God Ronald Reagan that fact, for he surely did just that.
In any event, my focus is on the notion that “we have a spending problem.”
I realized that this claim was almost always going unchallenged. The proper response to this nonsense is to ask: “Why do we have a spending problem?” And you can expect that the answer will be: “Because we have a 14 trillion-dollar deficit. Duh!”
Sounds right doesn’t it? If you are in debt, you might well conclude that you have spent too much. And perhaps you have. Or perhaps you really haven’t.
Look, quite simply there is no rule that says that a deficit means that you have spent too much. It simply means that spending out-paces revenue. There are two ways to address that deficit. As purists, one can address it from either the spending or the revenue side, OR, anything in between.
The Republicans are fond of likening the woes of the federal budget to that of an American family budget. And they argue, that if you are in debt, the family sits down and starts looking for ways to cut its spending. Entertainment expenses are curtailed, fewer clothing purchases are made, cheaper food is eaten.
That is their analogy and they leave it at that. But is that the only solution?
Of course not. Members of the family can take on part-time jobs, or look for higher paying jobs. They might decide to spend even more (an example of spending oneself out of debt) to seek additional training that might garner a bigger pay check in the long term.
Yet the GOP has decided that this way (increasing revenue) or spending to improve one’s salability if you will, is not allowed. No reason why, just not allowed.
But indeed there is a reason. Just one they don’t want to exactly advertise.
When social security was passed decades ago, the Republicans were against it, and have continued over the ensuing years to limit it, cut it, and otherwise damage it. They ideologically have no interest in government safety nets. The same is the case with Medicare and Medicaid. The same is true of welfare in any form, whether it be food stamps or meals for poor kids at school. They are not interested in helping poor kids get to college. They are not interested in anything that purports to be a government handout to those who have not earned the reward, as they believe they have.
By insisting on a “spending cuts only” solution to the debt problem, they insure that deep and destructive cuts will occur in all social safety net programs. It is their true plan. The Republican party has become (arguably it almost always has been) the party of business. In their view government is in place for only two things: provide for the common safety from aggressive nations, and ensure through legislation that business is unfettered and allowed to operate without restraint.
Government can thus fiddle with international trading to ensure that American businesses are competitive in foreign markets to the degree that they wish. It can ensure that no state interfere in a way that creates a road block to profit.
It by definition doesn’t impose safe working conditions, consumer protection laws, pollution controls, minimum wage constraints and stuff like that.
History of course shows how this all plays out. Unrestrained free markets lead inevitably to slave wages, unsafe working conditions, and a growing underclass of near serfdom, all the while the gilded rich, who shrink to smaller numbers, live in wealth so great as to be obscene. Corporations erect cheap housing and company stores. Every dime made by the worker goes to pay for housing and food. Life for most grows mean and ugly.
This is what always happens when business is allowed to proceed unregulated. The pursuit of profit is the only goal. As Gecko said, “greed is good.”
It’s only a “spending problem” if you vision the world from Norquist land.
- Dan Bimrose: GOP in a Box with No Easy Way Out (huffingtonpost.com)
- GASP! Anti-Tax King Grover Norquist Wants A Debt Deal That Raises Taxes (businessinsider.com)
- CNN’s Ali Velshi Challenges Grover Norquist On Tax Pledge ‘More Important Than Health Of Economy’ (mediaite.com)
- What I’m reading … Guy Cecil (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- The ‘dismal’ new debt ceiling poll: 5 takeaways (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Cut, Cap, and Kill (duanegraham.wordpress.com)