Thursday, January 28, 2010

The State of the Union

So, was it a “game changer”, this year’s speech about the “state of the union?” The opinion I have read so far, and it accords with my own, is, “well no.” The speech was quite good, workmanlike I would say. But mostly, it clarified “the way things are”. He threw a few bones to the Republicans, and a few more to his democratic backers, along with some sand in the face of the Supremes for their radical behavior and the die-hard radicals of the right.

The republican governor of Virginia promptly denounced the speech, but that’s just more of the same from the party that gave us two wars, the worst government in the nation’s history and the worst recession since the 1930s. Happily, the president reminded listeners of the state of the government when he entered—a very large disaster. Perhaps he needed to enter a few more numbers to emphasize the point, but his two numbers-- the budget surplus of $300 billion handed Bush by Clinton, and the $one trillion plus deficit handed Obama by Bush—should be enough for most thinking people. But if one examines the deficits and public debt since, say, 1900, responsibility for debt creation becomes clearer. On average, Republicans added to the national debt at a rate of 6.8 times that of Democrats. It is well to remember the saintly Ronald Reagan, who never once even submitted a balanced budget. Reagan believed in the infamous “Laffer Curve” which held that, if you reduced federal taxes, Federal revenues would actually increase. Instead, Reagan produced the largest budget deficits on record, adding more to the public debt than the sum total of all presidents from Roosevelt through Carter.

George W. Bush is, of course, in a class by himself when it comes to irresponsible fiscal policies. His deficit budgets put all others before him to shame. Often, deficits are created to deal with a national emergency, as the depression and World War II during Roosevelt’s terms, and the JFK-LBJ Vietnam & Great Society years.

But in the case of Shrub and his cranky crony Dick Cheney, they actually created their deficits out of whole cloth, manufacturing a war in Iraq out of pure lies, and creating their debts through huge tax cuts for the very wealthy. The Bush years produced double the debt load of Reagan, and has been coupled with the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And this sorry record is what republicans wish to promote—“let’s have more of that fine republican hands off management” they would argue. They have about as much credibility as that old man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. And he didn’t know how anything worked either.
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