How stupid are we?

In the 1980s, Republican operatives developed a scheme they called “starve the beast.” The idea was that Republicans — whom Americans thought of as more fiscally responsible than Democrats, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — would run up giant deficits through tax cuts for the rich and wasteful military spending (corporate welfare). This would drive up interest rates (further benefiting the rich, who profit by lending their piles of cash) and then force cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security — programs they dislike because they benefit ordinary Americans, not the rich and corporations — on the grounds that America’s debt was unsustainably high.

Reagan I, Reagan II and Bush I worked hard and effectively to run up the national debt. But the “liberal” Bill Clinton (who never saw a free trade agreement he didn’t like and who practically eliminated all welfare programs) slashed the national debt. As Rep. Alan Grayson recently said on The Ed Show, “We were seven years away from paying off the national debt completely under Clinton.”

George W. brought “starve the beast” back, giving America’s most wealthy a massive tax cut and running up record deficits to fund his two unnecessary wars. Even worse, the financial market mess and economic recession “Junior” handed President Obama has helped expand America’s budget deficit gap into a multi-trillion-dollar-per-year chasm.

But the problem — every Republican will so eagerly tell you — is wasteful government bureaucracy. And the solution is cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Are we really that stupid?

Posted by James on Thursday, July 15, 2010