Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Last night, the first Republican Presidential primary debate for the 2012 election was awash with all kinds of interesting factoids that were dead-bang wrong. Illusions. Myths. Mendacities. Lies. They project them. collectively and individually, on the Lee Attwater-amplified theory of using the “Big Lie,” a tactic of extremist governance used throughout history, but most clearly stated by the ultimate Right-wing liar and mad-man, Adolph Hitler.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler defines the use of the same Big Lie that is common to the Attwater-Rove era of Republican dogma:
“[I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.
It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” 
This was clearly in evidence last night, where most of the Republican candidates were working hard to spin huge fictions that would align themselves with scared white voters who increasingly come from religious and political extremist traditions and are very susceptible to the Big Lie. They pitched popular GOP chestnuts, everything from reducing our bloated government to reinstating Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell for the homophobe crowd.
The hard truth is that about 30 to 40% of the American electorate cannot only not handle the truth, they could care less. If every conservative household in America suddenly burst into flames, and Barack Obama personally swept in and put the fire out with super powers, he still wouldn’t receive an approval rating over 50%.
This is the power of the Big Lie.
The question is how will the Independent voter be swayed: By the truth or a lie? Unfortunately, many leading Democratic politicians and pundits are so dogmatic in their attacks on the Right that they get caught up in answering the Big Lie, rather than stepping back and calling it out.
You should call it out with friends, family, or anyone else that adds credence to these modern political myths.
Here are some of the bigger lies, and the documentable truth that refutes the GOP’s myths and mendacities:
Run for your lives! It’s the bogeyman federal government! Most of the former governors running for President should know better, as they are or were the actual problem. State government has swollen, while the federal government has only grown modestly, with recent agreed cuts actually about to downsize personnel more. About.com reports from its findings in a State Department report:
“While many Americans think that the federal government in Washington has ballooned out of hand, employment figures indicate that this has not been the case. There has been significant growth in government employment, but most of this has been at the state and local levels. From 1960 to 1990, the number of state and local government employees increased from 6.4 million to 15.2 million, while the number of civilian federal employees rose only slightly, from 2.4 million to 3 million. Cutbacks at the federal level saw the federal labor force drop to 2.7 million by 1998, but employment by state and local governments more than offset that decline, reaching almost 16 million in 1998.”
The feds also employ millions fewer soldiers in our professional fighting force:
“The number of Americans in the military declined from almost 3.6 million in 1968, when the United States was embroiled in the war in Vietnam, to 1.4 million in 1998.”
Big government is also a GOP lie as any current or former member of the Congress of the United States should be aware. The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and their Circular A-76 define for the federal government what services should be governmentally conducted, and which should be private enterprise. Color and bold are for easier reading of key points:
“The longstanding policy of the federal government has been to rely on the private sector for needed commercial services. To ensure that the American people receive maximum value for their tax dollars, commercial activities should be subject to the forces of competition. In accordance with this circular, including Attachments A-D, agencies shall:
a. Identify all activities performed by government personnel as either commercial or inherently governmental.
b. Perform inherently governmental activities with government personnel.
c. Use a streamlined or standard competition to determine if government personnel should perform a commercial activity. [See OMB Memorandum M-08-11 (February 20, 2008), number 4, when applying this provision.]
d. Apply the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), 48 C.F.R. Chapter 1, in conjunction with this circular, for streamlined and standard competitions.
e. Comply with procurement integrity, ethics, and standards of conduct rules, including the restrictions of 18 U.S.C. § 208, when performing streamlined and standard competitions.
f. Designate, in writing, an assistant secretary or equivalent level official with responsibility for implementing this circular, hereafter referred to as the competitive sourcing official (CSO). Except as otherwise provided by this circular, the CSO may delegate, in writing, specified responsibilities to senior-level officials in the agency or agency components.
g. Require full accountability of agency officials designated to implement and comply with this circular by establishing performance standards in annual performance evaluations.
h. Centralize oversight responsibility to facilitate fairness in streamlined and standard competitions and promote trust in the process. Agencies shall allocate resources to effectively apply a clear, transparent, and consistent competition process based on lessons learned and best practices. Lessons learned and best practices resulting from a streamlined or standard competition process shall be posted on SHARE A-76!
i. Develop government cost estimates for standard and streamlined competitions in accordance with Attachment C using the COMPARE costing software. Agencies shall not use agency budgetary estimates to develop government cost estimates in a streamlined or standard competition.
j. Track execution of streamlined and standard competitions in accordance with Attachment B.
k. Assist adversely affected federal employees in accordance with 5 C.F.R. Parts 330 and 351. The statutory veterans’ preference for appointment and retention (5 U.S.C. §§ 1302, 3301, 3302, 3502) applies to actions taken pursuant to this circular.
l. Not perform work as a contractor or subcontractor to the private sector, unless specific statutory authority exists or the CSO receives prior written OMB approval.”
The federal government is shrinking, not expanding. Yet even experienced Democratic politicians and pundits fall into that Big Lie and meet the GOP on their turf.
The states’ governments have increased in size largely because the Republicans, over the last thirty years, advocating state’s rights over the federal government, have spent decades dumping more and more of the functionality of government and governance back onto states and their legislatures. This has also led to a patchwork system of successes and failures, mostly failures, and a hugely inconsistent delivery of the same services to Americans from state to state.
This is a Republican misdirection of epic proportion. Debt of the Federal Government has ballooned, mostly over the George W. Bush Administration backed by a solidly Republican majority in Congress. Bush and the GOP racked up $6.9 Trillion in debts. $1.8 Trillion in tax cuts . $3.3T in no strings loans and floats to Wall Street that may never come back. $1.29T to run two wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, since 2001. $50B will be the remnant after loans are repaid on TARP, also started on W.’s watch .
At one point, and perhaps still, the Fed had pledged almost $9T to $11T to backstop bad paper from Wall Street. The San Diego Reader reports in April of 2011:
“During the crisis period that began in late 2007 and is still going on, the Fed was giving 90 cents on the dollar for toxic assets (such as complex financial derivatives) that it knew were worth only 60 or 70 cents, says Aguirre. Institutions such as banks and hedge funds “could put any value they wanted on the collateral,” and the Fed, which was trying to pump liquidity into the system, was happy to oblige.
How happy to oblige? There are various estimates. The most common guess is that the Fed provided around $3.3 trillion in liquidity, or actual transfers of cash, to financial institutions, and more than $9 trillion in guarantees and backup commitments. Aguirre says the sum is between $3 trillion and $4 trillion in cash transfers and $9 trillion to $11 trillion in commitments. Think of it this way: the gross domestic product, or America’s total annual output of goods and services, last year was $14.7 trillion. The Fed’s giveaways and promises to support supposedly ailing institutions may have equaled or even surpassed the nation’s total economic output last year.”
Infoplease reports that “According to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.29 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011.”
|In billions of budgeted dollars|
|Unable to allocate||5.5||5.5|
|1. Includes $5.5 billion of $7.1 billion appropriated in DOD’s FY2003 Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-48) for the global war on terror that CRS cannot allocate and DOD cannot track.
2. Of the $25 billion provided in Title IX of the FY2005 DOD appropriation bill, CRS includes $2 billion in FY2004 when it was obligated and the remaining $23 billion in FY2005. Because Congress made the funds available in FY2004, CBO and OMB score all $25 billion in FY2004.
3. Includes funds in the FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L. 110-28), Title IX, P.L. 109-289, FY2007 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 5631) designated for war and funds for other agencies in H.J. Res 20, P.L. 110-50, the year-long Continuing Resolution. VA Medical estimates reflect VA FY2008 budget materials and CRS estimates. Amounts for foreign and diplomatic operations reflects State Department figures.
Source: “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, RL33110, p. CRS-9).
What we need is to get the regulators off of the backs of business and let them create jobs.
This is the most common drum beat of Republican politicians because their wealthy backers, folks like the Koch Brothers and Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, hold this topic nearest and dearest to their black hearts.
As for job creation, Republicans have a terrible track record. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush combined created 21.5 million jobs over their terms in office. Bill Clinton, during his two terms in office created 23.1 million. Carter created 10.5M jobs in a recession with high inflation. W. only mustered up 3.0M in 8 years in office. So deregulation and generous tax breaks to the rich did absolutely nothing to employ people.
The massive and still painful global financial melt-down of 2007-2008 should be ample enough evidence that business, especially Wall Street, left to its own devices, will run amok and screw over small investors as well as the average American worker every time. The only other time that regulations were so lax was in the late 1920’s which led to the Great Depression, which began in 1930.
Further evidence of the cut-backs in regulation should be clear in the now almost-forgotten BP oil spill that dominated the news last summer. Bush era rules changes allowed BP and its drilling partners to cut corners and safety inspections that could have saved lives on the devastated oil rig, damage to millions of acres of coastline, and the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs from fishing to the hospitality industries.
Beyond that though, there is the rightful role of the government to regulate the free market economy. History has also shown that curbing cheating in the free market, unfair excesses that imbalance or impair the ability of the free market to operate, and setting basic standards for the fair, safe, and ethical treatment of workers and in the workplace and the communities in which those businesses operate are all valid exercises of governmental power.
The Bush tax cuts were a “hodge-podge of tax gimmicks designed more to win the support of various voting blocs than stimulate growth,” as the Fiscal Times in September of 2010 reported:
“The truth is that there is virtually no evidence in support of the Bush tax cuts as an economic elixir. To the extent that they had any positive effect on growth, it was very, very modest. Their main effect was simply to reduce the government’s revenue, thereby increasing the budget deficit, which all Republicans claim to abhor.”
The Reagan tax cuts were touted as generating great growth in revenue to the government. Econdatus reports that Reagan growth of the tax base was a myth too:
“The argument that the near-doubling of revenues during Reagan’s two terms proves the value of tax cuts is an old argument. It’s also extremely flawed. At 99.6 percent, revenues did nearly double during the 80s. However, they had likewise doubled during EVERY SINGLE DECADE SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION! They went up 502.4% during the 40’s, 134.5% during the 50’s, 108.5% during the 60’s, and 168.2% during the 70’s. At 96.2 percent, they nearly doubled in the 90s as well. Hence, claiming that the Reagan tax cuts caused the doubling of revenues is like a rooster claiming credit for the dawn.”
Factcheck.org dispatched that claim in their 2011 report:
“The Republican report cites a CBO report from August, which actually said that the economy will use less labor primarily because many people will choose to work less, or retire early, as a result of the new law. (See Box 2.1, pages 48 and 49.) What CBO projects is mostly a reduction in the supply of labor, which is not the same as a reduction in the supply of jobs.”
In fact, Health Care reform will be such a boon to retiring workers that many might leave the workforce early voluntarily:
“CBO said one reason fewer people will choose to work is that many low-income people will have more money in their pockets as a result of the law expanding Medicaid and providing federal subsidies for many who buy insurance privately. “The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources,” CBO said. “Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market.”
The facts do not make a case for the Republicans. Getting the facts in front of the average voter, though, and controlling perception, which the Republican Party’s spin machine has been able to dominate the media with for years, remains the big challenge of 2012.
This gives anyone interested in speaking truth to Republican media power a head start.
My shiny two.