Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am sound asleep.  The year is 2000. The Supreme Court has just decided that former Vice President Gore is now the President of the United States.  George Bush has returned to work on his ranch in Texas.  Cheney has gone hunting with Justice Scalia, where they wonder what happened, and Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz  are back at their think tanks planning for their next chance to attack Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish Democracy in the Middle East.

 President Gore and his cabinet are thinking about the best way to use the surplus left them by President Clinton. There are some in Congress, where both houses are still controlled by Republicans, who want to cut taxes. They do not have a majority, let alone enough votes to overcome a Presidential veto. The administration wants to use these funds to strengthen the safety net, repair our infrastructure and invest in research necessary to establish 21st century industries and create 21st century jobs.

President Gore has long recognized the threat from global warming and begins working with the countries of the world to develop plans and programs to both defend against and ameliorate the problems that will come with rising sea levels and climate change.

9/11 happens! While President Gore is well aware of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden there is nothing he can do to prevent the attack.

 He is in his office working, quickly identifies the source of the attack and dispatches his Vice President to NY to assure the city and the families of the victims that they have the support of the federal government.

 He convenes the Security Council and, after reviewing his options, orders the Navy to fire cruise missiles from the Persian Gulf at every target they can find in Afghanistan.  He sends the CIA to assure the Northern Alliance, who has been battling the Taliban for years, that they have our support.  He also asks them to help us find and kill/capture Bin Laden and his lieutenants.

He directs the military to insert a force, as soon as possible, to catch and/or kill every member of Al Qaeda including Bin Laden, who has fled to his hideout in Tora Bora. Twenty thousand marines and special forces surround Tora Bora and after slowly closing in, capture Bin Laden and his top lieutenants. They are returned to NY charged with the murder of over 3000 people, convicted and after an expedited appeals process, are executed.

The World Trade Center is rebuilt in three years. On 9/11/04 it is dedicated, with a suitable memorial for those who died,  demonstrating Americas strength and resiliency.  

The president and his administration return to governing the country. When the recession strikes in 2007 our debt has been reduced to 4 trillion dollars. We are able to respond by providing a massive bailout for the financial system as well as spend billions of dollars to help the states balance their budgets without layoffs and to stimulate the economy.

 The recession is brought under control and our investments in new industries and to bail out the auto industry results in those companies being able to quickly absorb the unemployed. As soon as the economy recovers in 2010 we return to balanced budgets and reducing our debt.

All of this has been accomplished with broad bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats praise each other for their rapid and affective response to the crisis. Congress receives an 85% approval rating. The Tea Party does not exist.

Then I wake up, read the morning paper, and think about what  actually happened while Bush had been  President.

The national debt in 2000: $5.6 Trillion
The national debt in 2008: $10.699 Trillion

The surplus in 2000: $230 Billion
The deficit in 2008: $455 Billion, a record                                                                                                                 
 Debt reduction 1998 to 2000: $360 Billion

Spending US Government in 2000: $1.789 Billion
Spending in 2008: $2.982 Billion

Thanks Bush and Cheney.
Thanks Supreme Court.

Thanks a lot you Republican voters.  

                  GREAT JOB, REPUBLICANS
        Now they want to fix the problems they created

In an earlier blog I said that the Tea Party wants to return the country to an earlier time, the beginning or middle of the 20th century. I would be happy to return to the year 2000. Let's abolish the Bush tax cuts and have the government spend the same amount and for the same things as it did that year.  Let's end our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Real Estate values have already returned to 2000 levels and as we work through the foreclosures and bankruptcy the amount of debt secured by real estate will go down as well. Hopefully as we regain our economic footing, unemployment levels will return to 5% its level in 2000.  Still dreaming!!!

Then we can purge our history books of any mention of the words George W Bush and live happily ever after.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The republicans admit to being half wrong... but wrong on the wrong half!

Although I may not sound like it, I was a Republican into my 50’s and a fiscal conservative my entire life.

I was raised with sayings such as “a penny saved is a penny earned”,
neither a borrower nor a lender be” and “God helps those who help themselves”. My parents were products of the Great Depression and tried to pass the lessons they learned on to their children. Thrift, hard work and a good education would allow us to live the American dream. They had three sons. Two became engineers, one with an Ivy League master’s degree, and the third, a lawyer (their only disappointment).

A fiscal conservative is one who believes that, like an individual, the government’s income and expenditures should be in balance. Borrowing for capital improvements that would serve at least as long as it took to satisfy the debt was acceptable, like buying a house or car is for an individual.

As long as we could afford it I also supported programs that would help people who were struggling to survive. These people had previously been supported through charity. Why shouldn’t all of us come together to provide them with help?

I thought that the Republicans agreed with me, but then Ronald Reagan was elected. He believed that he could reduce taxes and that would increase the governments income. This theory has come to be known as ”trickle down”, “supply side” and “Reaganomics”. I prefer the name given it by President George H W Bush, “VooDoo Economics”.

I was an economics major in undergraduate school and the idea that, by reducing income you could increase income, flew in the face of common sense and was contrary to everything I had learned about economics.

Let’s see how this “theory” worked in practice. When Reagan was sworn in a little over 30 years ago, our national debt was $994 billion. When he left office it had tripled to $2,867 billion. The national debt increased over his first term by 49% and by 40% during his second term.

While cutting taxes he also increased spending from $678 billion to $1,144 billion, almost double. Needless to say, Reagan had lost my vote long before the end of his first term.

During the middle of his second term I read “Triumph of Politics” by David Stockman who had served as Director of the Office of Management and the Budget during Reagan’s first term. He explained, rather patiently, that if you cut taxes you must also reduce expenditures or you’re going to end up with a tremendous increase in the amount you need to borrow.

In Reagan’s case he almost tripled America’s debt and doubled the government’s expenditures. Despite this he remains the darling of the Tea Party who say they want to make government smaller. I would appreciate it if someone, perhaps a member of the Tea Party, could explain this to me.

After that George H W Bush and Clinton vetoed bills that required expenditures that weren’t paid for, raised taxes, and by 2000 not only brought the budget into balance but created a surplus. Needless to say, this fiscal conservative was convinced and I have been a Democrat ever since.

George W Bush reinforced my decision. He practiced Reganomics, cutting taxes and increasing expenditures turning Clinton’s surplus into ever increasing deficits. In his eight years in office Bush increased spending from $1,821 billion to $3,107 billion He also managed to double the national debt increasing it from 5 trillion, 769 billion to 10 trillion 413 billion dollars.

During Clinton’s last term the debt decreased, for the first time since the 20’s, by 2%. During Bush’s first term the debt increased by 22% and in the second by18%.

I suspect that neither Reagan nor Bush really believed in supply side economics. What they did believe was that the best way to get reelected in greedy and irresponsible America was to cut taxes, while continuing to fund the Federal programs we love.

The Republicans now admit they were half wrong. They still want to cut taxes but now say they will reduce expenditures by eliminating all the programs that have been created to help the middle and lower class. The Tea Party which consists of middle class Americans thinks this is wonderful.

Have they lost their minds?

We can not hold Obama responsible for this economic mess. He took office in the middle of the deepest recession since the 30’s. Like Roosevelt he responded by saving the financial system and some of Americas biggest corporations ( Tarp) and by reducing taxes and pumping billions of dollars into the economy (the stimulus bill). These measures brought the recession to an end but have not solved the unemployment problem. Now he wants to continue tax decreases for the middle, class continue to pay unemployment insurance and invest money in America’s infrastructure. This time he wants to pay for these things by increasing taxes on people who make $1 million dollars or more.

The Republicans say they can support some of this.

Since they love cutting taxes they will support that part of it.

Since they are sworn to protect the fortunes of the rich they will oppose any tax increase on them.

Since they want any program to be paid for, they will take the money from the poor, the elderly or our children.

Incredible !!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Compassionate Conservative is an Oxymoron

The Republicans and their Tea Party supporters want to turn back the hands of time.

They must remember a different past than I do.

The world that existed from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the great depression had no child labor laws and no minimum wage. Employers could force you to work seven days a week with long hours and with no additional compensation. Forgotten, now, are the days of company towns where employees were little more than indentured servants. Employees who protested against their working conditions had to battle the scabs the strike breakers as well as the local police.

Back then the elderly and disabled were dependent on children or family and the charity extended by doctors and hospitals if they were to survive.

All of these problems and many more were overcome by our government. But perhaps even the Tea Party appreciates Social Security, Medicare, child labor laws, minimum wage and hour laws, collective bargaining and workplace safety. They may only want to go back to the 50’s and 60’s, a time I can remember...

I lived in New Jersey then.

On most days you weren’t able to see across the Delaware River because of the smog. When you drove across the Walt Whitman Bridge you had to roll up your windows and hold your breath because of the smoke and fumes being generated by the businesses below. You couldn’t swim in the bays behind the resort islands along the Jersey shore because of pollution. A good way to commit suicide was by eating a clam or an oyster.

During tourist season you closed your windows to reduce the smell from a nearby sewage plant and to prevent smoke and soot generated by a nearby electric power plant.

Many of you out there must remember the cancers caused by living near Love Canal. We still see the deformed people which resulted from the use of thalidomide.

All of these problems were created by private enterprise and were fixed or reduced by the government: by the Clean Air and Water acts, the Super Fund Act, and increased efforts to make sure medicine doesn’t do more harm than good.

Again... I have to believe that members of the Tea Party appreciate clean air and water and might want to make sure it stays that way. Perhaps the Tea Partiers want to reduce the size of the FBI, the DEA, Customs, the TSA and all the other federal agencies that do their best to make us safe. Or perhaps they want to reduce the budget for the Energy Department which is responsible for overseeing our nuclear material both for military and private use and oversees almost all basic research done in this country?

It is hard to believe they might want to reduce our investment in education at a time when we are trying to catch up to the education provided by other countries.

While I believe we could reduce spending on our military, the Tea Partiers don’t seem to be the type of people who would agree to that.

Perhaps we could stop maintaining our highways and bridges or our national parks? (Some people say we already have)

Tea Partiers would like to cut foreign aid and our contribution to the UN, although this would greatly affect our status in the world and the savings would be minimal.

Maybe they would like to cut funds available to fix the damage caused by hurricanes earthquakes and tornadoes. (They just tried that). Perhaps they could cut funds for the National Institute of Health! People can just do without those studies of the next drug to combat cancer and other diseases or to fight the next flu virus, right?

All of these expenditures benefit both conservatives and liberals and therefore I doubt if they want to seriously reduce or abolish them.

I am afraid that they are aiming at our safety net which exists to help and protect the poor, programs like food stamps, unemployment insurance or Medicaid. I also believe that these programs are what make this a benevolent, caring and civilized society. Apparently that belief is not shared by conservatives.

I was shocked when a question addressed to Governor Perry during the recent debate which noted that during his tenure over 200 prison inmates had been executed, received a loud ovation from his audience. I was even more shocked when Congressman Paul's reluctant admission that the man in the hospital who couldn’t afford medical care would be left to die also received loud and enthusiastic applause.

Congressman Boehner said when he ended the discussions which were an attempt to reduce the deficit, that there is a large philosophical difference between him and the President. I am proud to say that there is a large philosophical divide between me and the conservatives attending that debate.

Perhaps we could find a better way to bring our budget deficit under control. Perhaps increasing taxes and eliminating tax breaks for special interests combined with thoughtful cuts to spending would work. I hope that most Americans recognize that this is the only way forward.