The Republican Right's Long Affair With Voodoo Economics Email Print

What an irony it was that the very person who cheer led the high priest of voodoo economics at a different point in political time nailed it down precisely as the danger it constitutes.

Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush, or Bush the Elder, sought the Republican nomination in 1980 at a time when the eastern Republican Party establishment was on its last legs.

This was not the same Bush we saw eight years later exploiting through communications mudmeister Lee Atwater bogus issues like Willie Horton and the pledge of allegiance while solidly touting his membership in the National Rifle Association.

The George Bush of 1988 positioned himself in many ways like his son 12 years later as a grand Texas cowboy, a good old gun touting American buttressed by God, Mom, apple pie and the flag.

In the preceding two presidential election cycles since Bush had initially sought the Republican nomination the candidate that Richard Nixon derided as "the kind of guy who gets appointed to things" had conveniently abandoned and forgotten the soundest, most intelligent political policy observation of his career.

This was the George Bush who constituted the last gasp of the eastern Republican establishment, a candidate who identified with his New England roots and rejected the kind of corporate radical conservatism that Ronald Reagan and his California colleagues were packaging.

The millionaires who constituted Reagan's kitchen cabinet when he served two terms as California governor sold him on the idea of a restoration of the trickle down economics of presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.  This concept and what accompanied it resulted in the Great Depression.

Not only was money trickled down from those of great wealth to those at the bottom of the economic ladder.  This was accompanied by a tenet that Reagan embraced as well.  He frequently repeated the phrase of "Get the government off of people's backs."

The fact that the American financial community lacked the kind of enforcement machinery that Franklin Delano Roosevelt applied during the New Deal through a stalwart Securities and Exchange Commission allowed economic anarchy to prevail.  The result was the Great Depression.

In addition to the foregoing, a lobby of Cold War zealots nicknamed Team B created a false scenario in which the United States was seen as lagging dangerously behind the Soviet Union in defense spending.  The nation stood to lose the Cold War.

This erroneous conclusion was reached through a fallacious measuring standard.  Soviet defense expenditures were measured in real U.S. dollars, which created a distorted picture of the Soviets running wild in the defense realm, which in reality they were not.  

The American picture was skewed by Pentagon cost overruns that, when falsely measured against Soviet activity, created a thoroughly unrealistic picture of zealous defense production designed to ultimately destroy America.

By coupling a massive across the board tax cut, much of which would go to the nation's most affluent Americans, alongside a significant rise in defense spending, the Reagan team was flirting with economic disaster.  

A California economist named Arthur Laffer created what became known as the Laffer Curve.  This erroneous concept stood for the proposition that by delivering a massive tax cut that the ensuing result would be sharply increasing revenue that would be so massive that no deficit would result.

George H.W. Bush was correct in referring to this dangerous idea under the heading of voodoo economics.  Wave a magic wand and Merlin the Magician or some other practitioner of that type would generate massive surpluses spurred on by Laffer Curve magic.

While Bush the Elder cheer led the Reagan era from his vice-presidential pedestal the voodoo economics about which he warned took hold of the nation.  

Defense spending reached such dizzying levels that Pentagon cost overruns resulted ultimately in a scandal.  Meanwhile not one but two tax cuts were prodded out of Congress during Reagan's two terms.

The national debt was tripled to $3 trillion.  Meanwhile apologists explained that the tax cuts had increased revenue, just as they had forecast.  There was new revenue generated but that came from increases in the payroll tax.

The Republicans got a crack at more voodoo economics when Bush the Younger came to the White House after selection by the Supreme Court following the grand theft of Florida.  

By the time that George W. Bush turned things over to Barack Obama the debt had skyrocketed to $10 trillion.  During the 2008 election cycle Republicans had run for cover from Bush.  If pressed to talk about him they would criticize Bush.

Many of us realized this tactic as no more than a temporary smoke screen.  

What are we hearing from Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this week?

McConnell's message is clear and unambiguous.  We need more of those Reagan and Bush style tax cuts.


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