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Why the GOP lies about the economy

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The United States has never been so polarized and never has the polarization made less sense. Never has it been more virulent. But --what if I were to tell you that Ronald Reagan was the biggest spending liberal of them all and John Maynard Keynes --reviled by Reagan-heads --was a conservative? What if I told you that Ronald Reagan failed when he actually did what he said he would do and succeeded when he did what he said he wouldn't? "Whore House" politics debases the language to facilitate their lies. They lie in order to cover up the the cloaked pay off. What passes for debate is irrational and needlessly vehement. It's all a smokescreen. The terms "liberal" and "conservative", for example, are all but meaningless in the world apres-Bush. The meaning of both terms are entirely different now than in the 19th Century, in fact, both terms are used differently in Europe than in the US. For example, British economist John Maynard Keynes is habitually scorned by right-wingers. Not surprisingly, his brand of economics is called "liberal" if his name comes up at all. I daresay --most conservatives have probably never heard of him. Of those who ave heard his name, few understand him. Yet, Keynes took issue with Karl Marx on a key point: "I don't want a social revolution". Keynes, however, called poverty a "...dysfunctional threat" to a capitalist system which he favored. I call favoring capitalism, "conservative". Nevertheless, that Keynes denounced "poverty" is enough to earn the enmity of modern conservatives who obviously like the feelings of superiority they experience when millions of others are without jobs and scrambling to feed themselves or, as Bush put it, to "...put food on your families".

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It is Keynes' use of the phrase "...extending the traditional functions of government" that inspires conservatives to cross themselves and wear garlic. It was by "extending" those traditional functions that Keynes believed unemployment could be eliminated. This is, of course, anathema to laissez-faire throwbacks like Ron Paul whose economic thinking is stuck in the 19th Century. The same conservatives are not bothered by "extensions of government" effected by Reagan, Bush Sr., and now the Shrub. Ronald's Reagan's program would have been thought "liberal" had the same program been advocated by a Democrat. Just as it is believed "Only Nixon could go to China", it is apparently believed that only a conservative can espouse a "liberal" agenda and get away with it. Hypocrisy is expedient. Until Bush Jr, Ronald Reagan was our biggest spending liberal. He tripled the national debt, ran up historically high deficits, and doubled the size of the Federal Bureaucracy. None of it worked as planned because none of it benefited working Americans. Reagan had in mind "extending the traditional functions of government" but only in order to benefit the wealthy and the corporate. It is only when "extending the traditional functions of government" benefits the middle or poorer classes that "conservatives" object to "liberal" policies. "Conservatives" love welfare when it benefits elites who don't need it. Some history may illustrate the point: the Wall Street crash of 1929 was followed by a severe world wide depression acutely felt in the U.S., Germany, France, and to a lesser degree --Great Britain and Sweden. Nevertheless, unemployment was high in Sweden when that nation returned a Labor government committed to a program of public investment to address the high unemployment problem. It worked. By 1935 real output in Sweden was 7 percent above its 1929 level. Unemployment was reduced and the finance minister was said to have been happy to suffer another budget deficit to stimulate the economy. To be fair, the US also spent itself out of the Great Depression. The differences are that it occurred much later, and then it was due to the massive military spending necessary to wage World War II. The US has been addicted to war ever since. Spending in Sweden tended to benefit not merely the rich elites but, rather, the population as a whole. The US "experiment" benefited but a few monied defense contractors and birthed the egg from which a Military/Industrial complex would hatch. Ronald Reagan's budget deficit did not have as happy a result as those achieved peacebly in Sweden. Reagan's spending should have resulted in comparable widespread, near universal prosperity. But because it was a payoff instead of a program, his tax cut of 1982 was quickly followed by the nation's worst recession since the Great Depression, a recession of some 18 months characterized by record levels of unemployment, home losses, the newly poor sleeping under bridges and overpasses. For having been screwed by "Unca" Ronnie, the recent poor were called "crazy" by Reagan and his GOP disciples. The explanation is simple and may be found in the writings of Reagan's budget director, David Stockman who blamed a "noisy faction of Republicans" for Reagan's infamous tax cut. Reagan might have achieved the prosperity that Keynes had predicted had his policies not been designed to reward only the filthy rich elite, in other words, his base. It was said that his tax cut would stimulate new investment and create new jobs --the vehicle by which the increased wealth would trickle down! It all sounds good in theory. The mountain of stats at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BEA, and elsewhere clearly prove that the wealth never trickled down: the rich did not re-invest the tax cuts. There were no new jobs. One wonders why Reagan didn't just cut out the middle man. A more equitable tax might have put more spendable income directly into the hands of consumers. Spent money circulates and drives an economy. That consumers spend money seems to be a fact lost on the likes of Reagan, Bush, and the nation's rich and callous elites. Surely, there were knowledgeable advisers in Reagan's regime who knew better. The tax cut, therefore, was entirely political, a pay off to the rich for their support. Nothing has changed in the GOP. The Bush administration has made several such "payoffs" during his catastrophic and criminal regime.


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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The (more...)

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