Michele Bachmann might still be hiding under a rock somewhere, but her people are running an ad attacking candidate Jim Graves which they base on — surprise, surprise — bad economics and misunderstood numbers.
In her attack, Bachmann claims that each American owes $51,000 on our Federal debt. Well, no, not really. Or maybe I should say, not necessarily. If we elect Republicans this, that number could very well go much higher, for example, but even then it isn’t the case that each American will get a bill for $51,000 — or higher if the GOP prevails in November.
First of all, the number Bachmann uses divides public debt by the number of people in the United States. Say there 300,000,000 million people live in the United States, there are not 300,000,000 shares of debt equally divvied up. I’m surprised, in fact, that the GOP doesn’t whine that the rich will pay more and the very poor will pay less. But never mind…It won’t be paid back this way.
If Democrats wrest control from the regressive right we could look forward to a growing economy which would make paying the debt easier. Economic growth — and inflation — would change the debt in real terms. Twenty years ago we grew out of debt. Economic growth changes the value of assets and liabilities in real terms. Think of it Bachmann’s number this way, somewhat in reverse: If you had $51,000, would it be worth more today or in 1900?
Bachmann also perpetuates the false claim that this debt is the fault of Democrats. Sorry. We had a surplus before unfunded wars, tax cuts, subsidies, and Medicare prescription gifts erased the surplus. We don’t have a spending problem in this country as much as we have a funding problem.
Take the classic Republican way of running up our debt, cutting taxes while raising expenses. George W. Bush’s mistake in Iraq, for example, wasn’t paid for, in fact it came with tax cuts! Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
But look at Mitt Romney — another Republican — he is running on a platform of increased defense spending while promising tax cuts. Do you see a pattern? So how do facts — economic growth and surplus under a Democratic leadership — square with GOP rhetoric? They don’t.
Here in Minnesota, Erik Paulsen, another poorly-informed GOP “numbers guy”, is misleading poorly informed voters with the same disinformation…
And so is aging John Kline, another GOPer…
There’s a pattern here that is repeating across the United States, and often you hear these conservative politicians warn that the United States is on its way to becoming “another Greece” unless they are elected. Obviously facts don’t bother Republicans…Look at Greece, austerity has weekend the Greek economy. It hasn’t helped it. You cannot argue with this.
Fortunately, we’re not Greece. We manage the US Dollar, still the world’s default currency. This gives the United States a unique advantage and opportunity, one that we are squandering under misguided austerity arguments. Data and expert analysis, both here and abroad, argue for the opposite of austerity policies.
So why keep pushing the austerity argument? People like Bachmann, Paulsen, and Kline cannot be that stupid, can they? Well, maybe they can. At the very least it is called cognitive dissonance. Even most of the GOP political elite are not among those most favored by GOP policies…unless they’re afraid of gays and foreigners.
All of this stupidity is really simple. Conservatives have a chance to roll back government, their real goal. Financial security for the middle and working classes doesn’t interest them. Why should it? The interests of the future serve those who need not worry about backward fiscal policy. That is simply the price that must be paid to destroy a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
How American is that? Is sounds kind of Greek to me.
- The Austerity Trap (ypervasi.wordpress.com)
- Romney’s Economic Model (nytimes.com)
- Mitt & the Austerity Lies (theyouthcaucus.com)