The Red State Socialist Next Door…
Violent Souls, but only as the Hollow Men, the Stuffed Men…- T.S. Eliot
Histrionic conservatives exclaimed: Obama favors “redistribution of wealth”! Which is most of what modern government does. And it does this even faster under Republicans than under Democrats.- George F. Will, Washington Post
By J.M. Hamilton 10-29-16
Much has been made within the corporate media that Senator Bernie Sanders is a “socialist – democrat” (you know, from the five major corporations that disseminate 90% of the news to Americans). That is to say, Mr. Sanders is a liberal. We can expect a lot more of this attempted smear campaign, as Mr. Sanders and his supporters turn up the heat on the Wall Street owned GOP & Clinton, Inc. But conveniently, the same corporate news media has little to say about the fact that the two political parties, GOP & GOP-Lite/Dems, have overseen a massive redistribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1%, since President Reagan’s inauguration.
JMH has covered this ground before, but it bears repeating:
2) Under the first President Bush (HW), the national debt increased another 150%. To his credit, HW did not believe in trickle–down, or tax cuts of for the rich (aka Voodoo economics), and he was duly relieved of office for speaking the truth.
3) Under President Bush II (W), the national debt skyrocketed from $5.68 trillion in 2000 to 9.98 trillion in 2008, nearly doubling the national debt under his watch. Of course, Bush may have bought into VP Cheney’s quip that “deficits don’t matter,” and we know for a fact that he bought into the redistribution of government largess to the 1%, via tax cuts for the wealthy.
4) The national debt is expected to double again, per the OMB, by the tail end of President Obama’s second term. While President Obama inherited domestic and foreign policy catastrophes from President Bush II, not to mention that the President had to deal with a GOP dominated House of Representatives for much of his two terms, he cannot entirely escape responsibility for the budget mess that occurred under his watch. Mr. Obama made the choice to keep the U.S. immersed in two failed nation-building exercises throughout his two terms: Afghanistan and Iraq, and now is making moves forward into Syria (JMH would argue, perhaps, as a matter of political expediency – to keep the war lobby/MIC/GOP off his back).
5) Bottom line, the GOP, Reagan through Bush II, is made up of either: A) reconstructed Keynesians; or B) believes in a failed trickle-down ideology; or C) all the above. Unfortunately, the GOP only utilized half of Keynes fiscal policy prescriptions, since he recommended raising taxes during prosperous economic times. If your keeping count that's three GOP Presidents, who nearly doubled the national debt. One last figure to consider: during this same thirty-five year time frame, state and federal spending as a percent of U.S. GDP has rested consistently within the 30 to 40% range. So in the land of the free, in the land of rugged individualism and unrequited capitalism, total government spending makes up approximately a third of the U.S. economy. Factor in a Wall Street crash, and government spending bumped up to nearly half the economy for a period of time.
It all sounds fairly “People’s Republic of the United States” to me: the GOP adopted borrow and spend fiscal policies, so as to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy, while saddling the government and the economy with trillions in debt and trillions in debt service payments. Or let’s try a new analogy: like a private equity firm fronting loading profits by maxing out a takeover target's credit line, the financial & political elite have tapped out the Federal government’s credit line to pay for their tax cuts, government privatization, and wars without end.
During the same time frame, it’s no accident that GOP socialism for the 1%, and austerity for the 99%, coincided with ever-growing wage and wealth inequality and stagnating wages. Throw in free money or exceptionally dovish monetary policy, courtesy of the Federal Reserve for Wall Street, and the table was set for the evisceration of the American middle-class and the American Dream.
Businesses, multinationals, shadow banking, private equity and Wall Street showed their gratitude for the GOP’s brand of socialism (not to mention free trade agreements), by: offshoring American labor; maxing out/plundering corporate credit lines for executive and stockholder immediate gratification – a private equity specialty; destroying the environment; engaging in financial engineering; merging into monopolies and cartels; the hottest trend - tax inversions; and issuing pink slips and gutting the tax base/American worker. Many of these same businesses have been getting their way for so long at the government trough, that at the first hint that the government might not yield to their every demand, they threaten to offshore jobs, the tax base, and business.
How very patriotic. Then again, the government has allowed many sectors of the economy to metastasize into cartels and monopolies, so that politicians have no choice but to yield to corporate demands and surrender to blackmail.
Factor in regulatory, tax, and government capture by the 1% - made permissible by Republican led White Houses, SCOTUS, and GOP led Congresses, and one has to conclude there are no greater socialists than Republicans. Americans really saw this with the ’08 Wall Street bailouts under the Bush (W) administration; that is, per the usual, the profits of GOP (and Clintonian Dem) backed businesses are privatized, and the bailouts, tax cuts, and social costs are redistributed to the American public/taxpayer – who are left holding the bag. The GOP, and yes, Dems too, don’t mind bequeathing trillions in welfare to Wall Street banks, but talk about spending an extra billion on indigent children and the GOP controlled House of Representatives acts as if the world might end.
The GOP wrings their collective hands that welfare might be a corrupting influence…. And welfare can indeed create moral hazard, particularly when it is gifted to the plutocracy.
The difference then between a Republican socialist, and a Sanders socialist, is rather simple: Republicans believe in redistributing government largess to the 1%, while – let us pray – a President Sanders would redistribute government largess to the 99%, perhaps the 100%.
Our Corporate media has also already begun to attack Senator Sanders on how he’s going to pay for all this “free- stuff” (to use Mr. Jeb Bush’s language). Mr. Sanders has some ideas, among them: increase taxes on the wealthy, who often pay at rates significantly below the middle class – if they pay taxes at all; a more progressive tax structure (as opposed to the regressive tax structure currently in place); and there’s also the matter of making sure that government vendors/contractors stop shafting the U.S. taxpayer. For instance, military contractors stick it to the U.S. taxpayer for tens of billions in the form of cost overruns and fraud (it’s hard to put a precise figure on it because the Pentagon isn’t subject to audit), and neither political party has the courage to say a word. Big Pharma is finally getting the attention it deserves, and Americans are waking up to the shear unmitigated greed with which the pharmaceutical industry operates. The U.S. is the only Western democracy that does not set caps on Big Pharma’s drug mark ups, and this industry is fiscally disemboweling the United States.
Time to send some of these CEOs to prison? You bet.
That’s just the low hanging fruit. Show JMH a government contractor, like Mr. Cheney’s former company, Brown and Root (aka KBR), and the odds are pretty good that said contractor is taking the taxpayer for a ride. The odds are also great that these same government contractors are kicking back a gratuity to the U.S. Congress and Presidential candidates, in the form of campaign and Super-Pac contributions. They might even contribute to the Clinton Foundation.
All of which brings up the obvious need for a constitutional amendment separating money and state. But I digress.
Tis the Season, and the right-wingers, and GOP-lite/Dems, will attempt to scare us with spooky tales of communist and socialist, failing to mention that there are no greater socialist than red state Republicans and GOP-Lite/Dems. When Republicans spend on corporate welfare, they make Dems look like amateurs. So dear reader, the next time you hear the word “socialist” from our corporate news media, or from Senator Sanders’ critics…. Please think of Presidents Reagan, Bush (HW), and Bush II (W), as well as, GOP led Congresses, from Reagan forward.
Not that socialism is always bad, it’s just a matter of where government largess is allocated. Should government money go to those who are fabulously wealthy, so they can continue to pillage and plunder the planet? Or should social spending go to those less fortunate so that they can receive a hand up? (Ditto Capitalism… do we want crony capitalism that enriches an elite-insider-few and favors cartels and monopolies; or real capitalism with plenty of competition that favors the market, consumers, employees, and innovation?)
These are the political questions of our time, perhaps of the 2016 Presidential campaign?
Either way, the U.S. owes a debt to red state Republicans, who have shown America how socialism works, that is exceptionally well for the 1%. As a result of this hypocrisy, xenophobia and overt racism, the GOP, as a brand, is nearly destroyed. The double-standard of establishment candidates – speaking out on the evils of socialism – are on full display for all the world to see.
P.S. Happy Halloween!
P.S. Happy Halloween!
Copyright JM Hamilton Publishing 2015