Every now and then I spend a little time on the New York Times opinion page. Earlier this week I read several editorials that just added to my inability to understand what attracts working-class Americans to the more conservative elements of the Republican Party. I keep asking myself how working-class people can look at GOP goals and see how their best interested are being served.
While politicians in both parties are financed by and owe favors to big business, it is the GOP that has historically been the stronger supporter of the Captains of Industry. They are the party of business and for fifty years have argued that cutting taxes for the wealthy would trickle down and lift the working people’s boat just as it lifts their yacht.
The truth is, most reputable economist, including several Nobel Laureates, disagree. The reality is, what trickles up in the form of tax cuts and favoritism rarely trickles down. A significant reason for the financial collapse in 2008 can be traced back to the huge and unfunded tax cuts of George W. Bush. If you cut taxes for the wealthy and it doesn’t trickle back to the pockets of working people the ability of the government to provide services is greatly weakened while at the same time the demands for many of those services increases.
An example of this was shown in one Times editorial that exposed the reality behind the claims of many of the wealthiest that they were going to lift people out of poverty. In reality the impoverished they lifted were those people in places like China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. In the absence of government control and for the sake of increased profits American corporations exported millions and millions of jobs to these other nations. As a result the living standards there improved to the point that China has one of the fastest growing middle-classes in the world.
At the same time, however, the middle-class in America has substantially shrank while wages, at best, became stagnant. Once again the wealth didn’t trickle down. Instead there has been a storm surge of wealth for America’s already rich and powerful and enough of a trickle for Chinese workers to do better. All at the expense of the American worker and with the blessing of the GOP.
Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and other GOP presidential candidates are currently running around the nation talking about tax cuts. Nobel winning economist Paul Krugman has studied their plans and concludes it’s the same old voodoo. Krugman says:
“So Donald Trump has unveiled his tax plan. It would, it turns out, lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit.
This is in contrast to Jeb Bush’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit, and Marco Rubio’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit.”
“Blowing up the deficit” is exactly what happens anytime taxes are cut without cutting services. George Bush cut taxes and at the same time approved a huge unfunded increase in Medicare (Part D) and engaged America in our two longest and unfunded wars in history. As a result, the deficit exploded!
Under the Obama Administration the deficit has substantially been reduced without raising taxes. This came about for several reasons. First was our involvement in our wars and military spending has been reduced. The American economy has begun to recover and that has increased government income from taxes on wages and profits. Maybe the biggest factor in a declining deficit has been a severe decrease in government services. Our taxes have not been increased but the services we depend on government for are disappearing. Bridges and highways are not being maintained, our park systems are horribly underfunded, involvement in research and development has lessened, the number of government employees has shrunk meaning the waiting lines wherever have lengthened.
To me the conclusions is pretty simple. You cannot build a democratic or equitable economy based on Republican economic principles. Every time the GOP has forced their economics on this nation we have experienced an economic slowdown, if not collapse. It happened in the 1929 and it happened again in 2008. The Washington Post says that between 1940 and 2013 America has witnessed about twelve years of depression. While political control during those years is close to being equally shared between the two parties it’s been the Republicans who have brought about ten of those twelve years. According to the Post American economic growth, wages, and general prosperity has been higher during times of Democratic leadership than Republican.
I’ve listened to the arguments of both sides, studied the statistics, read the history, and I still can’t make sense of it. The conclusions make sense but I still can’t understand why so many working-class Americans still can’t see where their best interests lie.