Ideology Trumps Reality and Integrity

The Question

If you‘ve ever wondered whether an ideology can distort an individual’s view of reality or cause him or her to color the truth to the extent of an actual lie, you need only look at members of the Republican party who have now voted to approve the biggest scam tax cut bill in U.S. history.

The Ideology

Republicans believe that lower taxes create jobs and stimulate the economy enough to cover the deficit those reductions create; that the lower rates should start with those businesses and individuals who make the investments necessary to achieve that goal—a theory known as trickle-down economics. They also believe in smaller government and the need for individuals to take responsibility for themselves without government sponsored social programs. As a counterpart to this philosophy, they have stressed the need to control the country’s deficit and have forced reductions in spending in exchange for their support to increase the debt ceiling. The latter measure is required to pay the bills the government has already incurred, although it seems to be a problem only when there is a Democratic President.

The Reality – Lower Taxes and Deficits

While tax cuts introduced during Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush produced an increase in jobs, they were unable to sufficiently stimulate the economy to offset the large deficits created. Tax increases introduced during the administration of Bill Clinton produced about 2 million more jobs than those in the Reagan era, while also creating budget surpluses in Clinton’s second term. The Bush tax cuts were followed by one of the worst recessions ever endured, during which more than half the job increases Bush had achieved were lost by the time he left office. After taxes were increased during the second Obama administration, total employment returned to and then passed the peak of the Bush years with a net of 5.5 million more jobs created than in the Bush years.

This experience not only destroys the theory that tax increases kill jobs, but also the theory that tax decreases can stimulate the economy enough to offset the huge deficits they create. And, while history lends no support to the theory that tax cuts will pay for deficits created, the same can be said of virtually all economists who have studied the issue. That then is the reality.

Integrity – Or The Lack Thereof

In 1950, Bernard Baruch, an American financier and presidential advisor, is quoted as having said, “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”

Can one ascribe the Republican position to simply an opinion, or is the weight of evidence such that historical fact makes that position untenable? How can any responsible individual hold to that position, unless there is an ulterior motive—one that sanctions “a lie” to achieve a stated goal.

The Underlying Objective

Many Republicans have made no secret that they felt the necessity to produce a tax bill to both demonstrate they can be responsible managers of the government as well as to deliver a financial return to their well-heeled donors. Some might classify that as Party over Country. But there is more.

In the passage of this bill, the ultra-conservative wing of the Party has been virtually silent. Yes, Bob Corker, the Senator from Tennessee initially spoke out against the bill because of its impact on the deficit, but in the final analysis, he voted for its passage. Yet nothing changed in the bill to warrant a change in his position. Tea Party representatives who so vociferously fought against spending that would increase the deficit had nothing to say about adding a tax cut induced deficit of more than $1 trillion to the national debt.

The Prediction

Government programs such as Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid are not high on the Republican list of favorites. Within the next few years, when the deficit brought on by these tax cuts joins the already burdensome level of national debt, Republicans who showed no concern over the source that produced this outsize deficit will get religion once again. There will be cries that such a high level of debt cannot be sustained and must be reduced to avoid future generations having to pay for today’s profligacy. And of course, the way to accomplish that is certainly not with a tax increase on those taxpayers who have benefited the most from all tax cuts enacted since 2001. No, the Republican approach will be what it has always been—reduce spending. And the big targets will be, as they have always been, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, thus solidifying the screwing of the middle class in both tax cuts and social benefits.

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