Democrats need to teach the recent GOP economic history.
The next big trickle
It’s too bad Allan Marty of Monona wasn’t at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., to offer a little advice.
He wrote me last week with a question: “What are the Democrats waiting for?”
And then he added: “I think the Democrats are taking the wrong road in this election. They should be hitting the Republicans with the fact that their last sitting president and his tax cuts for the rich were responsible for the recession, not just talking about how to get out of it, although that is important.
“Why do you think the Republicans didn’t invite George W. to their convention? It would open the whole can of worms that the Republicans are trying desperately to keep closed and the Democrats are letting them get away with it. We need to open that can of worms for them.
“Democrats need to teach some history to the people. The Great Depression lasted over 10 years and you can’t just quickly climb out of a hole created by the Republicans both in the 1920s and 2007. They don’t want to take credit for the worst two financial debacles ever to befall this country, yet they did it both times with the help of Wall Street and the banks.
“When are the Democrats going to wake up and start campaigning on the issues that can win them the election?”
Marty makes a great point and one that has perplexed this columnist for most of the past four years as Republicans in Congress relentlessly promoted the same economic theories that got us into all this financial trouble in the first place. What’s inexplicable is how so many of the people either can’t or won’t remember that those theories have been absolute failures.
Yet we sit here on the verge of another presidential election debating whether “trickle down” — and make no mistake about it, the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan plan is nothing more than dressed-up trickle down — will bring the country out of its economic doldrums.
How many times are we expected to buy in to what even Republican George H.W. Bush labeled voodoo economics?
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both pushed the so-called “supply side” theory and successfully enacted significant tax cuts in both the upper income brackets and several business-related taxes. We were assured that the lost revenues would be more than made up for by increased economic activity because all this extra money in the hands of the well-to-do would create more jobs as the money trickled down to the less fortunate.
Instead, we saw the national debt grow by leaps and bounds in both the Reagan and Bush presidencies. But worse, we watched the gap between the rich and the poor in America grow to unprecedented levels. Coupled with the tax cuts was a loosening of financial regulations that had served the country well since the Great Depression. Together, it all came crashing down during the last year of the George W. Bush presidency.
And four years later here we are today, trudging along desperately to pull the country out of one of its deepest holes.
True, Barack Obama could have done more in the beginning, but the GOP in the U.S. Senate effectively used its filibuster threat to block any meaningful stimulus that could have spurred more jobs than the 2 million to 4 million for which the modest stimulus of Obama’s first year is credited.
The American economy is recovering, slowly but surely. The housing crisis appears to be over. The jobs reports are now on the plus side.
Can we really seriously even consider turning the country back over to the people who created this mess in the first place?
That’s the message that Allan Marty and a lot of other Americans want everyone to consider.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
September 9, 2012
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Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of the Capital Times and a FightingBob.com contributing editor.