Sadly, ignorance and incompetence overwhelms and prevails in Washington today. The victors are the conservatives, the losers the progressives.
Correcting our budget crisis is not an economic question, it is a political one, and the politicians answering the question are not qualified for the job.
The root of the problem rests in the risks of democracy. As long as we have a gullible and uninformed majority electing bad people to office, we will have unqualified leadership and inappropriate public policy. Votes on election day matter as much — maybe more — than votes taking place in Congress now.
Republicans have the bad politics and Democrats cave in to them. Listen to any Sunday morning news talk show. The Democrats talk in terms defined by the Republicans. The Republicans have framed the debate, controlled it, and won it. We now have a government run by people who see our government only as an oversized, wasteful, and economically unsound bureaucratic mess. This is a political opinion, not an economic fact.
There are ways to fix this problem. Again this is an issue with an economic solution, but politics have hijacked the debate. The biggest Republican lie that Democrats do not stand up to is this idea that the United States does not live within its means. Perhaps politics has made Democrats weak, but they fail to deliver the simple answer: We have a funding problem, not a spending problem. We have obligations, not entitlements. We need to fund our government with smart and sufficient tax policy and own up to our obligations. Government is not the problem, how we choose to support it is the problem.
Republicans gave us — some of us more than others — tax cuts we could not afford. They did this so they could destroy social programs that go against their selfish, short-sighted ideological preferences. For decades conservatives — conservatives morally superior than many of today’s Republican leaders — tried to divide the United States on social issues, but they respected obligations of government. Today the self-described patriots have succeeded in dividing us by installing irresponsible fiscal policy and fostering economic lies.
Anti-tax, anti-government policies have not helped this country. It certainly has not helped most Americans. These policies haven’t even helped most Republicans who support them.
Just years ago it looked like we would be back in surplus today, but we pushed irresponsible tax cuts and enormous unfunded expenses like our wars. One can easily argue that anti-government policies set up our financial collapse and that our anti-tax positions left us with no corrective opportunity to move on fiscal policy.
Moreover, supply side economics DID NOT deliver the prosperity conservatives promised. Even in the best of times, real wages for most Americans remained flat or declined. Real household debt reached record levels. And don’t forget this recession. Did the policies that allowed us to roll up to the economic collapse in 2008 serve us well?
It is time to call a spade a spade. We have shameful stupidity on Capitol Hill. Anti-intellectual Republicans are a real threat to this country. They are rearranging an American social contract that has worked for generations. The results are disastrous. Better, smarter people need to lead, but that won’t happen until Americans become smarter and better. People simply don’t get it and that the real disgrace.
What kind of bargain is this?