With the mid-term election one week away, it is a good time to dispel some of the myths coming from the right about the President and the Democrats. We know that since the election of President Obama, followed by the emergence of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, the so-called conservative movement quickly evolved into an extremist ideology where emotions like fear, anger, hate, and greed replaced logic and facts. From the moment the President took office, the Republicans made it clear they would do everything in their power to stop him, including distorting, maligning, and stopping every policy supported by Obama and the Democrats. When the President sought to extend unemployment insurance the Republicans made a concerted effort to stop funding for the “lazy” poor. When the President instituted national healthcare they screamed about paying for healthcare coverage that included birth control for “sluts”. When the President began calling for immigration reform – the Republicans and their mouthpiece Fox News began promoting anti-immigrant paranoia against so called “criminals” who are here illegally. In short, the President and his policies were a target of hate-filled, fictitious narratives by this new ultra-conservative, radical wing of the GOP that rode into Washington. I won’t even get into some the outlandish accusations by some of the whacko-birds regarding Obama sympathizing with Muslim terrorists, Obama hating our military, or Obama being a communist who wants to institute death panels and touch off class warfare.
It is frankly frightening that many of these right-wing extremists could be reelected to office. That’s largely because a significant problem in America today is the uninformed voter who listens to propaganda media outlets like Fox News and conservative talk radio. These media outlets took agenda-driven misinformation to new levels since the first day President Obama took office. Remember the claims that the President was a radical Socialist who wanted to take over banks and car companies after he acted PRUDENTLY to step in and save the big banks from failing and save an American icon of capitalism from collapsing and taking the auto industry with it. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick called Obama the president “who saved the American auto industry from extinction.” The former CEO of the super-sized used car dealership CarMax, Austin Ligon, said the president’s decisive action to restructure General Motors and Chrysler “helped prevent a domino effect that would have taken down everything in the auto industry, from the factories that manufactured auto parts to the dealers who sold the cars.” But you never heard any praise from Republicans or Fox News, a media outlet funded by billionaire Republicans who have their own corporate agenda – an agenda that Fox News viewers choose to ignore along with surveys that show that they are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources.
In any event, with the midterm elections a week away this writer felt compelled to do the country a service and educate voters before they pull the lever, on five of the most perpetuated myths that the Republicans continue to run on:
“Tax cuts for big corporations create jobs and tax increases destroy jobs.” If it were true that the driver of job creation is a lower corporate tax burden, we would have been awash in newly created jobs during George Bush’s last term. Moreover, at a rate of 1.8% of GDP, the U.S. has the lowest corporate tax burden of any Western nation, and corporate tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near historical lows. Corporations are actually paying less in taxes than they have in decades. Some are paying none at all with all the loopholes available to them. A recent study found only 25 percent of the largest American corporations don’t pay anywhere close to the corporate federal income tax rate of 39.6 percent on their earnings, while 40 percent pay less than half that rate. Moreover, job hiring is a function of demand for products and services. Putting people back to work and putting cash back into their pockets so that they can go out and spend is what drives economic growth and job hires. The idea that reducing the corporate tax rate will jump-start economic growth is simplistic and has never been proven true. Most economists even agree that a lower tax burden is not a driving factor in creating jobs – it’s a function of DEMAND. It’s really simple math – if demand increases then labor intensive companies and industries employ more people and if demand decreases then they employ less. President Obama allowed Bush’s corporate tax break to expire and what happened? Corporations have been reporting record earnings and the country has seen the longest streak of private sector job growth in history. Moreover, four years after Clinton’s tax increase on the wealthy in 1993 which Republican opponents at the time denounced as a certain job-killer, the economy had produced 11.8 million new jobs, an increase of nearly 11%. Eight years after Clinton’s tax increase, the economy had added 20.6 million jobs, up 18.6%. Measured in absolute and percentage terms, the economy produced more jobs after Clinton raised taxes than after Ronald Reagan cut them during his term.
“Burdensome government regulations are destroying job growth.” If any Republican bothered to read data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics “(BLS”), they would see that very few layoffs are caused principally by tougher government regulations. Whenever a firm has a large lay-off, the bureau will ask executives the biggest reason for the job cuts. According to the BLS, 0.3 % of those laid off in 2010 lost their jobs due to “government regulations/intervention,” while 25% were laid off due to a slowdown in business. Moreover, the idea that after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Republican Primary wants to deregulate Wall Street is the height of recklessness and a recipe for disaster. It was the deregulation of Wall Street that was one of the main drivers in the financial meltdown. The idea that the GOP is proposing more deregulation of banks when there is still an unregulated, unsupervised market of exotic derivatives – in the trillions- like credit-default swaps putting the whole financial system at risk is the height of absurdity.
“The Obama stimulus didn’t work.” Driven by the reckless policies of the Bush administration, in the first half of 2008 the country’s GDP began stagnating, and in the second half it began to contract at an alarming rate. In the 4th quarter of 2008, the U.S. GDP declined by an astounding 9%. As the economy was shrinking, businesses began laying people off and many were forced to close. The U.S. economy was in a free-fall by the time President Obama took office. So on February 17 2009, Congress passed and the President signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka as the “stimulus bill”, to stop the bleeding and help turn the economy around by injecting billions of dollars into the economy. This was on done through infrastructure investments, aid to the states, and tax breaks. In George Bush’s last three months alone, the economy had lost 2 million jobs. After the stimulus was passed job losses began trending down until eventually we started adding jobs again. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick called him the president “who saved the American auto industry from extinction.” The former CEO of the super-sized used car dealership CarMax, Austin Ligon, said the president’s decisive action to restructure General Motors and Chrysler” helped prevent a domino effect that would have taken down everything in the auto industry, from the factories that manufactured auto parts to the dealers who sold the cars.” Under President Obama the economy continues to grow and has added 4 million net private sector jobs to date. The unemployment rate has declined from a peak 10 % to 5.9% currently. While Republicans have derided the 2009 stimulus as a failure, Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman and advisor to President Clinton, estimates that the stimulus act created about 2.7 million jobs and the stock market responded as corporate profits hit record levels.
“Obama has run up the debt more than George W. Bush did in his 8 years.” It’s a fact that President Obama has added more to the national debt than his predecessor, President Bush. However, if you’re going to argue that point you have to look beyond just that surface number and look at what caused that increase. The reality is that the debt shot up because of the recession of 2008, which obviously started before President Obama took office, which led to a sharp decrease in government revenue coming in. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years is due to Bush policies and the economic downturn. The CBPP published a report titled, “Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers.” The report noted: Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Nevertheless, the fact remains: “Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit through the next decade.” Fortunately, President Obama has already cut that deficit by more the half.
“Obamacare will add to our deficit and does nothing to bring down costs of health care.” The Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare to right-wingers) is projected to cut the national deficit by over $200 billion during its first 10 years, and over $1 trillion over the next two decades. This helps offset the estimated $1.36 trillion net cost. The CBO recently reported that the ACA is cutting costs even more than projected. According to the CBO, “From 2015 to 2024, the law is now expected to cost $1.38 trillion, or $104 billion less than prior projections, with a $36 billion cost in 2014.” Also, health insurance rates have been going up at 10%+ per year but now with the ACA we have finally be able to get a handle on these rate increases. Since 2010, the average rate of health-care cost increases has been less than half the average in the prior 40 years. This is due to among other things lower annual increases that Medicare pays to hospitals and private insurance plans, and payments based on the value not the volume of medical care, eliminating services that are not needed. Remember when President Obama was criticized for asserting that the ACA would save $2,500 per family? Well, events have shown him to be right. Between early 2009 and now, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lowered its forecast of medical spending in 2016 by 1 percentage point of GDP. In dollar terms, that’s $2,500 for a family of four.
In conclusion, in America today we have a large segment of the population who are living in an alternate reality – a fabricated world of lies being perpetrated by a new breed of radical Republican politicians and their right-wing media accomplices. Today’s Republican Party has nothing in common with the party of Lincoln, or the Grand Old Party. They have morphed into a party of far-right extremists intent on protecting the prosperous but not looking out for the interests of ALL Americans – including the poor, working man/woman, seniors, students, women, gays, immigrants, and minorities. Since the 2010 mid-term elections, the emergence of the Tea Party has accomplished nothing but help the GOP lose their identity as they turn more radical, angry, and obstructive. The problem is that while these radical Republicans were focused on obstructing and hating President Obama, nothing was being done for the American people. Let’s not reward them by sending them back to Washington in 2015. They don’t deserve your vote or your tax dollars.