Terrance Heath

The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure, Pt. 2

Filed By Terrance Heath | January 16, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

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“Haven’t we already given money to rich people … Shouldn’t we be giving money to the middle?”

– President George W. Bush in November 2002, acknowledging to advisors that he knew his tax cuts were giveaways to the super-wealthy. (Source.)

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If you were among the wealthiest 1-2% of Americans, it was the best of times. For the rest of us, it was “The Uh-Ohs,” a decade of conservative failure and its aftermath. From the government surplus in 2000 and the ill-advised and poorly planned wars that helped transform it into a deficit, to the stagnant economy and growing economic inequality we face today — none of it just happened and none of had to happen.

It was all consciously chosen — a direct consequence of conservative politics and policymaking — and about 99% of us are worse for it.

Uh-Oh! For 99% of us, it was a very taxing decade. From 2000 on conservatives preached the gospel of prosperity through tax cuts. Tax cuts for the very wealthy, that is. The idea was the tax cuts would put yet more money into the hands of the wealthiest Americans, who would then put that money back into the economy, and “spread the wealth” either by spending it on goods and services that create jobs or by investing it in ventures that would create jobs and benefit all Americans. The reality turned out to be something else.

Uh-Oh! We never got the “trickle down” of prosperity the tax cutters promised. Instead, we got a kind of Bizarro World “trickle up” economy, where billionaire Warren Buffet has a lower tax rate than his secretary. Of course it didn’t work. It couldn’t work and we’ve known for years it wouldn’t work. This long, slow grift actually began decades ago, but really began to pay off in the past ten years — when conservatives had control of both the White House and Congress, and could finally do a lot of things their way.

But surely this all comes out in the wash. Right? Sure the wealthiest 1-2% enjoyed a bonanza of low taxes and higher incomes, but that had to trickle down to the rest of us in some form of fashion — either through jobs supported by increased spending at the top of the financial food chain, or jobs created by their investments here at home. Just like the banks we bailed out in order to save the economy were supposed to increase lending so the rest of could maintain a standard of living that includes living indoors, eating regularly, etc.

We help them, then they help us. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Or, rather, that’s the way it was supposed to work.

So, what happened? As you might guess, that brings us to another “Uh-Oh.”


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Terrance, thank you for keeping these points in the air. The current economic depression was not only brought on by a GOP administration, it is a demonstrable failure of conservative economic theory in general --- No, Virginia, markets are not self-correcting, not within the tight ranges that modern economic mechanisms require for smooth operation. Yes, Virginia, bad actors in the economy will do bad things, including legal forms of theft and fraud via confusion, and the planting of landmines out their tailgate, if regulators do not prevent them.

(Virginia, watch your manners! It's rude to say Well, duu--uu--uh! like that to your elders!)

And if we don't repeatedly put the blame where it belongs, the conservatives will quickly try to move the blame to the liberals: Oh, the recovery isn't going perfectly, cleaning up this mess is too much work, unemployment continues to hang like fog on a frigid day, etc. ... and suddenly it is all to be blamed on the liberal Democrats!

I wish I knew more about that quote other than "to his advisers." The link doesn't say to whom specifically or when it was said. But it's very interesting...