Class Warfare Blog

June 18, 2010

Republicans Impaled Upon their Own Talking Points

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Was I the only person who noted that the Republican’s position regarding the recession was that the only way out was by means of tax cuts? Ironically, possibly trying to curry favor with a few Republican legislators, the Democrats included almost $300 Billion in tax cuts in the Recovery Act of 2009. This was not small potatoes, being the largest tax cut in the history of the U.S. Well, the bill still got no Republican votes in the Senate (Got one in the House, though!) and later the Republicans claimed that the Recovery Act didn’t create one new job! If one ignores the fact the hundreds of thousands of police and teaching jobs were saved by the Recovery Act, and a few hundred thousand jobs were pulled out of unemployment for construction projects, you might be able to make that case (those jobs maybe weren’t exactly “new”). But the Republican claim of “total failure” of the Recovery Act skewers their claim that “the only way out of the recession was tax cuts.” Maybe they mean a Republican tax cut, as opposed to a Democrat tax cut?

Next up the Republicans, the party of “no government interference in business” is excoriating the Democrats for not doing enough to create jobs. Brilliant! If only tax cuts will work and the biggest tax cut in U.S. history has had no effect (or so they claim), just what is it the Republicans expect the administration do? Interfere in something? (Gasp!)

Actually these are just asides because the entire plethora of Republican “New Ideas” is bankrupt. Let’s see—they say that government needs to just get out of the way of business and let business do its job. Government regulations can only hurt progress, not help. Taxes need to be cut to the bone. (I think they must mean for the rich because they didn’t seem to think much of the middle class/small business cuts in the Recovery Act.) And, oh, we need to give up many of our personal freedoms for the sake of national security and let the government spy on us. Oh, wait, that was George Bush’s idea. Let’s just say, uh, be tough on immigrants, crime, and terrorists. That about sums it up.

Apparently the Republicans think we are stupid. And I am not even going to mention the mammoth economic crisis of 2008 from which we are still suffering and which was brought about by greed and . . . deregulation. And I am not going to mention the Gulf of Mexico/British Petroleum disaster brought about by deregulation and a complete lack of oversight by the Commerce Department’s Minerals Management Service. Surprised you, huh? (Oh, in passing I can’t refrain from pointing out that the MMS was created in the Reagan administration by then Commerce Secretary James Watt. Remember James Watt? MMS was set up from the beginning so that government and oil companies would have a bed to be together in.)

My point is simpler. All of the Republican proposals and more has already been tried in this country . . . (drum roll, please) in the late 19th century, the period that later came to be called the Gilded Age and which lead quite directly to the Global Depression of 1929-1945. During the late 1800’s, there was little to no government regulation and taxes were low, especially business taxes. Business leaders often called up Governors and even the President to tell them what they were to do. We are talking all of the current Republican talking points/programs/New Ideas, the whole magilla, was in force at this time.

What that American experiment in democracy gave us was an upper class (the rich) and a lower class (the poor—some working, some not), but no appreciable middle class. Rich people had lavish houses and because labor was dirt cheap, they had servants, lots of servants. People living in the cities were surrounded by disease and dangers. Wooden tenements were often packed with people. They also burned down, quite frequently with the people in them. Government did not take responsibility for fire departments. And there were no public health services and not much in the way of building codes. All of these subsequent governmental regulations would be considered superfluous and current Republicans would surely want to rid us of them.

Women and children were exploited in factories doing dangerous work. By 1890, one out of every five children had a job. There were no unions, no child labor laws, no 8-hour day, no OSHA, no government responsibility for education. All of these interfering regulations should probably go, too, as they fit the mold of actions that an overreaching government would take and make government “big” and not “small.”

Immigrants could come to the U.S. but we could herd them into jobs where they were forced to live in poor company housing and required to shop at the company store, getting deeper into debt as they worked. We also could have the police beat them up if they took umbrage and we could exclude them from voting because they didn’t speak English or pay a poll tax. They were able to be exploited as cheap labor, though. That was legal.

In a note of additional irony, it was out the misery of the late 19th century that the U.S.’s fundamentalist Christian movement grew. The abject poverty and misery of everyday life surely must have promised better treatment in Heaven. The irony is that fundamentalist Christians are avid supporters of the Republican agenda. So, they are in the position of trying to recreate the misery they were born out of and are sought to oppose.

Why is it that poor people and fundamentalist Christians support the Party of No (as in no rights for women, no rights for children, and no rights for workers, and no rights to a clean environment, or to a safe workplace, or a union to protect your rights)?

They want their country back, alright—unfortunately it is the U.S. of the Gilded Age.

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