Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse. -- Adlai Stevenson
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared that he has been in the House for 22 years and that we have never cut spending. This from the man who tried to spend $3 billion on an alternative jet engine the military did not want, and never specifies any of the cuts he says are required.
Now, it appears, Republicans will get their sequester. They will also, in the process, shatter any doubt that government spending indeed creates jobs, the only remaining myth that has not been thoroughly debunked by events, at least since 1937-8.
Republicans have perpetrated four major myths about economic policy, aka "RepubliCONomics." These myths have served their paymasters' interests, but have brought down a once prosperous country with a large, strong middle class to a nation beset with a shrinking and struggling middle-class and increased concentration of wealth and power at the top.
The first was that cutting taxes on the wealthy fostered economic growth and job creation. That was launched by President Reagan, but all he proved was that cutting taxes + tripling the deficit, about as Keynesian as one can be, may stimulate the economy. Indeed, it is arguable that the impact of low taxes on the wealthy alone is quite the opposite -- their idle wealth squirreled away (these days) in off-shore tax havens, extracted from the economy and not doing anything, was one of the causes Galbraith proposed for the Depression (The Great Crash, 1929).
At the very least, the Congressional Research Service report studying 50 years of tax policy finds cutting taxes for the wealthy had negligible impact on job creation, but it ballooned our deficits and increased income inequality. Strike one.
RepubliCONomics' second myth was that "tax cuts pay for themselves." This was a necessary corollary of their first myth, because they did not want to be seen as deliberately causing deficits, nor to have to make choices between deficits and feathering their paymasters' nests. All they caused were deficits and growing income inequality, hollowing out the middle class. The culture of "getting something for nothing" is a RepubliCON invention.
Perpetrating this lie was particularly cruel since it was applied anew just as the boomers were due to retire, with their known impact on government spending needs. The Clinton Administration handed them a projected $5 Trillion surplus that would have shored up our finances and not put this vulnerable part of the population at risk. RepubliCONomic nonsense transformed that surplus into a $4 trillion deficit, an incredible $9 trillion turnaround. Strike two.
Their third canard was that removing regulations would spark a flurry of economic activity, job creation and growth. They were correct on the "flurry" side, there certainly was a lot of "activity," but it was not sustainable, and resulted in the worst financial and economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Strike three.
Baseball, and in some states our criminal justice system, says three strikes and you are out. But, they do not have lobbyists nor the gerrymander.
Republicans do. Regrettably, they get an "extra swing" before counted out. "Regrettably," because many more people will have to suffer unnecessarily.
The sequester will demolish their fourth lie, that government spending not only does not create jobs, but is actually inimical to it. The Congressional Budget Office is predicting a loss of 750,000-1,000,000 jobs from their folly. Even Republicans are lamenting the projected loss of jobs in the defense industry because of it. Imagine, government spending creating jobs! What a thought!
As job losses rise and economic growth slows, and as key programs -- e.g., the National Institutes of Health will lose $2.5 billion, rental assistance for the poor $2.3 billion, nutrition for women and children $0.5 billion, and so forth -- that Republicans assume no one cares about get the axe, and real pain in individuals' lives is felt, not only will the final nail-in-the-coffin of RepubliCONomics have been hammered, but the Republican Party will have sealed its fate.
What, after all, remains for them to yammer about?