BRAD FROM SALEM
Two weeks ago I posted a blog about what I call “The Modern Republican Agenda”. If you haven’t read it or would like to review it with the post publication edits click on this link: http://wp.me/p4bXEi-gg
In short, Republican voters are made up of two groups. The first are those that watch Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh. The second group is their friends and family who have a passing interest in politics. But even tough they have a low-interest level they know something is amiss. And when people they are close to tell them with an air of confidence that it’s the Liberals, they believe them. The agenda comprises a few simple concepts. First, too much of the money we earn and that businesses earn is going to taxes; second, there are so many government rules and regulations that nothing can get done; third, the government is too big; and last of all inflation is shrinking what I do get in my paycheck.
Now, I claim that the agenda is wrong, and actually full of false information. And the best way to build up a false story line is to make sure that each and every part of that story has an element of truth to it.
For example, taxes. Have taxes risen under President Obama? Not exactly, and until 2013; not at all. But the kernel of truth in the Fox/Limbaugh version is that President Obama proposed and supported reinstating taxes that were cut in 2001. Instead the stimulus plan that was passed contained numerous tax cuts for individuals and for businesses. By excluding what was actually in the stimulus package, a significant number of voters came to believe if the President wanted to raise taxes, then that was what had happened. There was also a program for shovel ready jobs to be accelerated and started up quickly. But when it turned out that the states were not as ready, there was no impetus from Congress to find another use for that money. The economy had come back from the cliff, some plans for recovery worked out, others did not; but what did work was ignored and what did not work was flouted as the reason people don’t have a job. That was the message heard over (or for the good news never heard) and over until enough people believed it to be true. Even some Democrats. Enough so that they started embracing the Modern Republican Agenda.
What about government rules and regulation? Surely one cannot argue that our government is inefficient, unresponsive, corrupt, bureaucratic, and is trying to regulate everything we do, say or eat. The government regulators get in the way of the free market determining what food I eat, how my electricity is generated and what I purchase. This one, is based on more truth than lies; and so it gives the Fox/Limbaugh group a powerful tool to argue in favor of the entire Modern Republican Agenda.
There is a problem though. The problem is what the Fox/Limbaugh people want regulations to do. They want them to protect businesses. protect them from lawsuits, protect them from proving that their product or activity is safe, protect them from making profits. This is actually the crux of the difference from the followers of the Fox/Limbaugh and the Liberal, Progressive, Bleeding Hearts, Socialist Democrats (LPBHSD). In the LPBHSD world regulations exist to protect people from harmful business practices, dangerous products, and onerous rules. There is much that can be done to eliminate regulations that are not needed anymore, only protect business and not people. There is even more work that can be done to eliminate duplication and modernize the systems used by government. But to accomplish these items which in many cases the LPBBHSD and the Fox/Limbaugh people agree on, then tax money would have to be spent doing that work and it also grow the size of government before it shrinks it. That is why fixing the mechanics of government is not even discussed.
Did I just note that the size of government is a Republican Agenda item? And how do we know what the right size is? I would posit that when a government agency does not have the staff and other resources to perform its function, then there are two possibilities. First, it is not truly a government responsibility and no increases in staff or resources will allow it to function. Usually the problem with these agencies are that there scope of responsibility is unclear and a correction to what the agency is supposed to accomplish will fix the problem. Other times the agency has no longer any function and should be eliminated. The other possibility is, of course it should be a function of government and in order to do its job, funding for staff, training and other resources must be provided. In general, the Republican Agenda call for the elimination of any agency not performing its job and reducing funding for those that do.
The last items are inflation and the value of one’s paycheck. These are very subjective, but let’s look at it from what we have seen. An individual feels like they cannot buy the same amount of quality groceries every week and to splurge instead of going out for dinner and a movie, they find choosing one or the other. The fault is certainly not their shrinking government, and their taxes have not really risen very much, if at all. Obviously one would say it is inflation, but the fact is that inflation is below the rate of a growing economy. A healthy economy inflates slightly about 2% – 4% each year. A recovering economy inflates higher, 3% – 6% per year until it re-stabilizes. Our economy has been inflating at about 1.5% so unless your raise is over that, and your employer did not increase your share of a retirement fund or more commonly, your healthcare; then you have less money in your pocket. It’s the thing you have started hearing about lately. Something President Obama started to talk about, but was told by Democratic political advisers to not talk about. That is Income Inequality and there are two primary drivers that create that inequality (IMHO). First is the absence of a robust, but safe, inflation rate which will make it easier and cheaper for private debt to be reduced; and second is the absence of a top tier tax rate over 50%. That creates an artificial top to the highest paid executives, without creating wage controls.
The point to this whole post was to show that the Modern Republican Agenda is based on partial truths and is going mostly unchallenged by the Democratic mainstream. If you are a Republican or a Democrat, and subscribe to what I call the Modern Republican Agenda, I would love to hear your ideas. If you fit yourself into the Liberal, Progressive, Bleeding Heart, Socialist Democrat category, I would like hear from you too.