Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Our bureaucratic beast has been starved,and now it’s angry, hungry and looking for payback.
We’ve deprived it of revenue, the Federal Income Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans don’t add up.
The Republican’s idea behind those cuts was to reduce the size of Government. It presupposes that, without revenue, the Government can’t spend. If the Government can’t spend, then it would have to become smaller, because there will be less that in which it can become involved, due to lack of funds.
This presupposition turns out to be quite wrong.
It fails to take into account the Government’s ability, just as you have the same private ability, to borrow. Borrowed money equals debt, right? Well at least it does in my life. I don’t know about anyone else’s.
The notion of Starving the Beast also seems to be code for cutting and not creating services that support the people. No Republican wants to be seen as a semi-Socialist and it’s partly because of this idea of supporting others that the Republicans popularized Starving the Beast.
Democrats have, historically although now it seems questionable, been the party of the people; which would include socially doing so as well. The idea that “the people work for us, why should we not work for the people” has been turned into the idea of Welfare. Even though we all know that Republicans are against every sort of Welfare except corporate and could care less for the actual welfare of the worker bees.
Starving the beast was made popular by none other than the GOP’s hero, President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, who is remembered as the best President there ever was by current Conservatives, despite the fact that they apparently have no idea of what actually occurred during his time as President, outlined his plan for this during his run for President in 1980.
During the election of 1980, the Gipper famously said this of his opponent, then Congressional Representative of Illinois’ 16th District John Anderson:
” John Anderson tells us that first we’ve got to reduce spending before we can reduce taxes. Well, if you’ve got a kid that’s extravagant, you can lecture him all you want to about his extravagance. Or you can cut his allowance and achieve the same end much quicker.”
The problem is that the government is not your kid, blowing money on a pricey pair of Nikes or a flat screen television. The Government provides a lot of necessary services that you may be familiar with or use yourself. Programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
The Right has systematically taught millions of Americans to hate the government no matter what. Many people don’t realize that they have a lot to be grateful for; a lot of what the Federal Government does to protect them every day. The Federal Aviation Administration, even with the occasional sleeping air traffic controller, keeps the airline industry flying safely. The Food and Drug Administration keeps drugs safer, and makes sure that the food industry keeps your can of tuna clean and bacteria-free.
I am no Government cheerleader. I am not in any sort of denial of how inefficiently or wastefully many Government programs work.
There are many things that I think are better left to the states to decide; Things that don’t affect people in any other state. Do you really want a state that is performing last in education to have no one to answer to when they’re failing their own citizens?
The Republican idea of small “g” government is all about eliminating wasteful spending on useless programs and ceding more power and responsibility back to the states.
The argument for states rights, as old as the Constitution itself, works for conservatives because they can run their agenda in their political strongholds in the midwest and the South, without having to answer to the larger more diverse populations of the more liberal states like New York and California.
States Rights come from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
When you really look at that clause, it is not saying much.
The Tenth Amendment, as I understand it, seems to be suggesting that if the power to make law and regulate commerce or society in certain areas is not one already granted to the federal government, then the states can regulate and/or make law in that area. The first three articles of the Constitution explain all of the powers that are actually, specifically , assigned to the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Federal Government; This is sort of a catch-all.
In fact, the Commerce Clause of the Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include many areas within the sphere of its’ control: Education, transportation, interstate commerce, international commerce and many more.
The Federal Government regulates a lot of daily life within the States, whether Republicans like it or not.
So what is small “g” government to them? The Right’s idea of wasteful spending would be something like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The existence and power of the EPA is the GOP’s one constant bitch. If the argument was that we need to go in it and fix it because the EPA was wasting massive amounts of money, then that’s one thing. To defund it to the point of where it cannot enforce the laws passed by past Congresses is quite another.
The Right hates the EPA not because it costs too much to run it, but more because it does not allow their rich friends to dump toxins into drinking water, or bypass other expensive protections for the environment. Big business does not want to spring for proper disposal or treatment equipment. Does the Cuyahoga River need to catch on fire for weeks again before average Americans remember the value of the protection that the EPA provides to them?
The GOP feels that if money is restricted from the Feds, they can’t run stupid agencies like the EPA.
Protect clean air, keep flights safe with equipment that is up to code, or keeping insects and bacteria out of our canned goods. The GOP has no interest in those things. They don’t see the public benefit as much as the harm to private companies.
The irony of this notion of smaller Government, however, is that Republican Conservatives have no problem with invasive big government in the social arena.They push for tighter constrictions of civil rights, interpreted by the Supreme Court, and want to legislate both morality and matters of personal, private choice. Conservatives use abortion, gay marriage and homosexuality as constant wedge issues in elections.
The Gipper tried to push the beast to starvation in social and public safety. Reagan’s idea of starvation apparently included tripling the federal deficit, adding $100 billion to defense spending and creating the Department of Veteran Affairs. It made his conservative friends from the California defense industry very wealthy along the way, but much of the national debt that we’ve been paying off for decades came from that very same spending binge. Reagan went on to raise taxes at least eleven times to pay for his newly inflated Government.
There are areas in which the federal government is more suited to exert power of regulation and control. Keeping the rules of commerce basically the same in San Francisco as they are in Boston increases competition and decreases costs to consumers. If a prescription pill can be made fifty different ways to accommodate the rules of each state, it not only costs more, but it endangers us.
I believe that it is in the public’s best interest for their government to care for its people. We should not allow it to be used by a few to financially or socially repress and take advantage of the majority. Besides, if the idea that we are supposed to be a united entity wasn’t true why would we have fought so hard to stay together, even repeatedly telling Texas that they can’t leave?
We gripe about government. The lines at the DMV are too long. Social Security’s rules are too complex for an elderly couple. There are people in California who would rather go without food stamps than to deal with the red tape involved in receiving them. Consider, though, what happened before we had a social safety net, and someone watching over our water, our food supply, and the safety of our travel on the ground and in the air.
When polled, most Americans say that they want clean air. They want a social safety net, including all of those card-carrying Republicans who draw their Medicare and Social Security.
The richest country on the planet should be able to pay for those things, when other countries working with less do more. Sure we may have recently had our credit rating downgraded, but that doesn’t make us any less first world. We should be better than this to our people; Starving the beast starves us.