Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Reckless is defined by the folks at Merriam-Webster as "marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences" Radical Right-wing Republicans subscribing to the insanity of one Grover Norquist are poised to wreck the Republic.

Let's review.  Bill Clinton left the White House leaving the nation with a robust economy, and a budget surplus.  On week one of the Bush-Cheney administration Dick Cheney announced that we were heading into a time of economic downturn.  At the time I thought it odd, since in the tight race between Bush and Gore this was  not a campaign issue.

During Clinton's tenure America's economy grew at a rate of 4%.  Twenty-two million new jobs were created. Ninety-two per cent of those  jobs  were  created  by the private sector.  Median family  income  grew by more than $6,000 a year. Unemployment reached a thirty year low coming in at 4%.  Inflation dropped to 2.5% down from President George H.W. Bush's rate of 4.7%.  Americans had the highest rate of home ownership ever, 67.7 %.  Seven million fewer Americans lived in poverty. Clinton left President George W. Bush a budget surplus of $237 billion.  Clinton made the largest ever three year pay down on the debt, $363 billion.  Clinton cut the rate of government spending to 18% of GDP.  Clinton reduced the amount of money we pay for the interest on the Public Debt, down by $125 billion from the projected $348 billion. 

Here is something that sounds familiar.  President Clinton's Deficit Reduction Plan passed in  1993 without a single Republican vote.

Balancing the budget, while being responsible is a  Democratic idea, and Bill Clinton negotiated the Balanced Budget Agreement of 1997.  In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Clinton announced his plan to balance the budget for the first time in 27 years. Later that year, he signed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, a major bipartisan agreement to eliminate the national budget deficit, create the conditions for economic growth, and invest in the education and health of our people. It provided middle-class tax relief with a $500 per child tax credit and the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits for college. It also created the Children’s Health Insurance Program to serve up to 5 million children and made landmark investments in education initiatives including educational technology, charter schools, Head Start, and Pell Grants. Finally, it added 20 more Empowerment Zones and 20 more rural Enterprise Communities, included the President’s plan to revitalize the District of Columbia, and continued welfare reform though $3 billion in new resources to move welfare recipients to private-sector jobs.

Clinton dedicated the budget surplus to save  Social Security. George W. Bush used that money for his unpaid for tax cuts which disproportionately favor the top two per cent of wealthy Americans.

Clinton extended Medicare Solvency from 1999 to 2025.  When President Clinton took office, Medicare was expected to become insolvent in 1999, then only six years away. The 1993 deficit reduction act dedicated some of the taxes paid by Social Security beneficiaries to the Medicare Trust Fund and extended the life of Medicare by three years to 2002. Thanks to additional provisions to combat waste, fraud and abuse and bipartisan cooperation in the 1997 balanced budget agreement, Medicare was  expected to remain solvent until 2025.

President George W. Bush took the remarkable legacy of Bill Clinton's administration and ran it into the ground.  Unemployment under Bush went from 3.9% to 6.7%.  That rate including discouraged jobseekers went from 4.1% to 7.0%  The National Debt went from $5.7 trillion to $10 trillion. Bush squandered the $237 billion surplus, waged two wars off the books, drove unemployment to record heights.  As the economy melted down Dick Cheney went to the Senate and told Republican Senators that they had to bail out Wall Street with TARP because it was "Hoover Time."  Cheney was referencing the economic collapse that led to the Great Depression.

The  economic deregulation of Wall Street and the financial sector contributed to the economic meltdown of 2008, which was caused as the "result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street," according to the Levin-Coburn report. 

Republicans would have us believe that all was hunky-dory when Bush left office and Obama took over.  Rather than be responsible and help turn  the economy around the Republicans have  fought for the interest of the rich and in concert to defeat Obama in the next election.  Republicans had enough Senators to block  any Democratic efforts in the first two years of the Obama administration.  The Democratic House sent measure after measure to stimulate job creation, provide money for education, and reform Wall Street.  Due to the Senate's filibuster rule most of those bills died in the Senate.  The ones that survived were  ghostly apparitions of the measures originally passed in the House.

Since the Republicans took control of the House they have produced no jobs bills.  They have voted to kill Medicare, slash funds for social programs, and voted to increase spending for the military.  They, following the maniacal rhetoric of Grover Norquist, refuse to raise any sort of revenue, whatsoever.

At this point we are not talking about the $237 billion surplus Clinton left to keep Social Security sound and solvent, which Bush used to give  back in tax cuts, and for which we are borrowing money to continue.  By the way that's when you know you have a revenue problem, when you are borrowing money (spending) to pay for tax cuts (which should be revenue).

What we are talking about is closing tax loopholes.  These loopholes let American business evade taxation.  These loopholes let American businesses send our good paying job overseas. 

Today we are talking about the debt ceiling. This does not create new spending.  This merely acknowledges that as we work our way out of the economic mess George W. Bush left for us we need to keep paying our bills.  There is  an argument that the bill is due primarily for Obama's economic stimulus.  That's nonsense.  Those who would not lift a hand to keep the economy going until the private sector recovers would have this nation thrown into another Great Depression.  Like their rhetoric that the stimulus failed, it is false.  America has turned the corner from job losses to job growth because of the stimulus.  We are not where  we want to be. We are going in the right direction.

Now the Republicans want to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. If that happens the world economy will collapse.  The hell of the economic meltdown of 2008 will look like a garden party.  There is a responsible way to work our nation out of the economic problems we face today. Not paying our bills is not a responsible way of moving forward.  Reckless Republicans are poised to ruin the Republic.

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