Friday, December 30, 2011

Robert Reich and six GOP lies about the economy

This is actually from September. It's Robert Reich, formerly Secretary of Labor, speaking at the Summit for a Fair Economy in Minneapolis.
The lies Reich debunks:

1) Tax cuts to the rich and corporations trickle down to the rest of us. (No it doesn't and it never has.)

2) If you shrink government you create jobs. (No, you get rid of jobs that way.)

3) High taxes on the rich hurts the economy. (No, the economy grew when the US did this under Eisenhower.)

4) Debt is to be avoided and it is mostly caused by Medicare. (No, if debt is properly used to grow the economy, it becomes a smaller part of the budget because of increased revenue, and Medicare has the lowest overhead of any health insurance plan out there.)

5) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (No, it's solid for 26 years. Social Security is solid beyond that if the rich pay the same percentage in social security taxes as the rest of us do.)

6) We need to tax the poor. (This is what Republicans have been proposing when they say any "tax reform" needs to involve all Americans because poor people pay no income tax. The poor have no money and taxing them will not solve our budget problems.)

Note that he makes a couple of especially good points at the end - first, that cynicism is the greatest enemy we have. I hear a lot of cynicism from progressives these days. "Oh, both parties are the same. Oh, all politicians are alike. Oh, it's useless to vote, because nothing ever changes." Whine, whine, whine!

The fact is, this is exactly what the right-wing wants you to believe. Why do you think they've been stonewalling everything in Washington? They're the anti-government party. They run on the platform that government doesn't work. So everything they can do to make government dysfunctional helps them politically - yes, even when they're responsible for it!

They cut funding for the SEC and other regulatory agencies to the bone. And then they argue, when those agencies are ineffective at preventing abuse, that we don't need any more regulations, that we just need to enforce the ones we have. I know you've heard that. Right-wing loons repeat that mantra over and over again.

Of course, when regulatory agencies are starved of money and staff, and, especially - as they were during the Bush years - when they are headed by anti-regulatory ideologues, they aren't going to be very effective. But that's what the Republicans want. They want to convince you that government can't do anything right. They want you to be cynical about America's institutions.

And they do their best to keep Democrats from voting. We've all seen those restrictive voter ID laws they try to pass. Do you really think that's the only way they try to keep you from voting? Of course not!

The truth is, they work very hard to persuade progressive voters that none of this matters, that voting is a waste of time, that all politicians are alike. Hard? Sure it's hard! But when you give up, they win. When you give up, you let the wealthy have their own way by default.

Reich is absolutely right that cynicism is the greatest enemy we have. He's also right about demagogues. When times are bad, that's when people turn to demagogues. When people are hurting and scared, they turn to extremists who convince them that other people - Jews, blacks, gays, Muslims, immigrants, feminists - are to blame for their problems.

As Reich points out, these same scapegoats are always offered up by demagogues. Well, if you're not offered a scapegoat, you might start to blame the people who really are responsible for your misfortune - and often enough, that includes you, yourself.

If you voted for George W. Bush or, worse yet, didn't bother to vote at all, you're partially responsible for much of this. But you don't want to believe that, do you? The Republicans certainly don't want you to believe that. So they offer up scapegoats.

Reich does a good job here. He's absolutely right. But how many people will ever hear him. He's facing the right-wing propaganda machine, led by Fox "News" and other big-money media outlets. It's not hopeless, never think that. But it's not going to be easy, either.

Well, if you wanted easy, you should have stayed in the womb.

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