We're Right, They're Wrong

Info from 'WE'RE RIGHT, THEY'RE WRONG' by James Carville

Republicans may be better for the rich, but they are not better for the Economy. Since WW2 there have been five administrations of each of the two parties. In terms of the number of new jobs created, the Democratic presidents lead all the Republicans. Of the last seven administrations, much maligned Jimmy Carter comes in second (3.1%) after Johnson (3.8%), while much celebrated Reagan comes in second to last (2.1%) over Bush (0.8%).

Republicans continually claim that they can cut taxes and balance the Federal budget at the same time. David Stockman, Reagan's budget director : " The root problem goes back to the July 1981 frenzy of excessive and imprudent tax cutting that shattered the nation's fiscal stability. A noisy faction of Republicans have willfully denied this giant mistake of fiscal governance and their own culpability in it ever since. Instead, they have incessantly poisoned the political debate with a mindless stream of anti-tax venom, while pretending that economic growth and spending cuts alone could cure the deficit." (New Perspectives Quarterly 3/22/93)

Dole's running mate, Jack Kemp, was the co-author of Reagan's 1981 tax-cut.

Reagan did cut the tax load substantially ... on the richest one percent. During the 1980s, it was cut from 32 to 26 percent. During those Republican years, the tax load on the bottom 40 percent actually increased.

Reagan promised he would balance the federal budget by 1984. However, deficit spending under Reagan was the worst we've ever seen, adding on almost $2 trillion to the federal debt. And it wasn't the Democratic Congress that was so fiscally irresponsible. Besides the fact the Republicans controlled the Senate from 1981 to 1987, if Congress had just rubber-stamped all of Reagan's budgets, the debt would now be higher, not lower.

Unlike his recent Republican predecessors, Clinton has been reducing the deficit. In fact, we would have a balanced budget right now if it weren't for all the interest we have to pay on the debt Reagan and Bush racked up. You've got to hand it to Rush Limbaugh for admitting that Reagan "is the man to whom we Americans owe a debt that we will never be able to repay", although I think Rush meant it in a slightly different way.

Who benefited from Reagan's huge deficit spending? It certainly wasn't the working class who now have to pay for his party. By Edward Wolff's estimate in his article, "How the Pie is Sliced : America's Growing Concentration of Wealth" (American Prospect, Summer '95), ninety-nine percent of the new wealth during the Reagan years, went to the richest 20 percent. No wonder they call 1983 to 1989, 'the seven fat years'.

Dick Armey (R-TX), House Majority Leader, told a story about a mildly retarded janitor he befriended while he was an economics professor at North Texas State. Armey said this hard-working janitor was fired when the school could no longer afford to employ him after Congress raised the minimum wage, and of course, the janitor ended up on welfare. The Washington Post, called the university to check out this story. It turns out that everybody there is a state employee and the minimum wage doesn't apply to them, and nobody remembered any janitor getting laid off. Armey's response was he didn't actually know the janitor, but heard the story from someone else - "Dale something". If misinformation was a crime, Armey would get the chair.

Now Armey has introduced a flat tax proposal in Congress. The Republicans claim this will lower the tax burden on nearly all Americans. However, the Stanford professors, Hall and Rabushka, who drew up the idea of a flat tax in the first place say this about it : "It's an obvious mathematical law that lower taxes on the successful will have to be made up by higher taxes on average people." Citizens for Tax Justice has calculated out the implications of Armey's proposal. For a family of four making between 45 and 90 thousand dollars, their total tax would increase by about $4500, or 40 to 110%. If the same size family earns half a million dollars, their taxes will be reduced by over $93,000, or by more than 60%.

The Department of the Treasury calculates that Armey's flat tax would result in Americans who make less than $200,000 a year (after taxes), on the average seeing their income by reduced by 0.8 to 3 percent, while those with take-home incomes over this would see it rise on average by more than 8 percent. Even those making only minimum wage would see their income reduced by 1.5%.

In addition, Armey's flat tax would cut the capital gains tax rate to zero. Pensions from a lifetime of work would be taxed whereas money gained from investing windfalls and inheritances would not.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said "government bureaucracies in general are threats to everyday life", claimed on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that he had a prime example of this. He reported that the FDA had "made illegal" a new heart pump which "increases by 54% the number of people (who undergo CPR) who get to the hospital and have a chance to recover." It turns out that inpendent test results showed the device was of no benefit and on one had even applied to the FDA for approval. But did Newt apologize?

Republicans say that we must cut Welfare, because it just encourages people who are on the dole to remain dependent on those of us who are not. Funny how this doesn't apply to welfare ranching. The federal government only charges a quarter of what private landowners charge for grazing rights, so that taxpayers lose an average of $60 million a year on the deal. Not only did Republicans shoot down Secretary of Interior Babbit's attempt to end this subsidy, but they even tried to have fees reduced to nothing for some of their wealthier ranchers. So Republicans are busy protecting government's subsidy of feeding cows while they're cutting nutrition programs for children.

But Republicans might argue that they are concerned about children's nutrition, and that's why the House in June of 1995 voted to block an overhaul of the USDA. After all, in their minds, the overhaul would have meant just more expensive and unnecessary additional regulation, which of course, would have just made the food industry more inefficent and thus grocery prices higher. However, part of the reason for the proposed overhaul of USDA regulations was that two years before 200 people were poisoned by hamburgers that were infected with harmful bacteria. Like all meat in the country it had been government inspected, but by outdated methods where inspectors basically only sniff and look. The USDA was already proposing higher inspection standards which were part of their overhaul. But did the Republicans vote to give consumers adequate protection? No, even though three kids died from the hamburger poisoning. Once again, the Republicans are trading off children's rights to make sure some of their wealthy constituents (ie:the owners of the meat industry), stay that way.

Republicans argue against big government. True, some of the Federal government is wasteful, but Republicans would have us believe the majority of it is. Why then did Reagan add 133,000 to the federal payroll whereas Clinton has already (1995) cut more than 200,000, giving us the fewest number of federal employees since Kennedy? Also federal expenditures under Clinton, as a percentage of GNP, are about the same as they were 20 years ago, are much smaller than they were under Reagan, and are the lowest in the industrialized world. The Republicans want to hand control over to the state governments, but that's where the growth has been already. From 1970 to 1992, the number of state employees grew by 60 percent to 4.6 million.

"With the exception of the military, I defy you to name one government program that has worked and alleviated the problem it was created to solve" - Rush Limbaugh

Well, Rush ...

Head Start (1966) works with community groups to help preschoolers be better prepared for grade school and for life. More than 200 studies have shown that Head Start kids are less likely to be held back in school, and are more likely to get their high school diplomas. Republicans have voted to cut this program by 180,000 kids in 2002.

AmeriCorps (1993) puts teenagers in community work programs. The youths are paid the minimum wage, and after a year of service get a voucher worth $5000 towards college. IBM had a team of top economists "provide a conseravtive assessment of the rock-hard, tangible benefits of the program." They found that for every dollar tax payers put into AmeriCorps, we get $1.60 to 2.60 back in measurable benefits. Almost 90% of the Republicans in Congress voted against this program when it was introduced, and they still want to kill it outright.

FEMA (1978) (Federal Emergency Management Agency) used to be a prime example of bad federal government. In 1992, it took three days to start doing its job of helping Florida communities recover from Hurricane Andrew. Shortly after this Clinton came into office and appointed a new director, James Witt, whose reinvention of FEMA is what the Washington Monthly called "the most dramatic success story of the federal government in recent years". When Witt took over, FEMA was still preparing for a Soviet nuclear attack, years after the Cold War ended. Witt refocused the agency on dealing with natural disasters, brought in quality people, and cut about half of FEMA's internal regulations.

Clean Water Act (1972) (later became part of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)). Before the Clean Water Act, only a quarter of US river miles were swimmable and drinkable. Time magazine says the Act "has been a visible, undeniable success." The Republicans however, want to turn back the clock in their call for cutting by a quarter the EPA's budget for enforcing environmental rules.

CDC (1946) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is as Newsday puts it,"the world's No. 1 public health resource". It has been instrumental both domestically and abroad in diagnosing new diseases and developing treatments. It was the CDC that quickly uncovered the new strain of bacteria that caused the aforementioned fatal hamburger poisonings. Still, even as diseases become more and more resistant to present treatments, and air-travel makes the world a much smaller place for viruses to get around, the Republicans want to cut the CDC's budget as well.

Medicare (1965) The US has the best health care for the elderly in the world, and this is mostly due to Medicare, which covers 99% of seniors. In November 1995, Republicans passed a plan to cut Medicare by $270 billion.

Medicaid (1965) Two-thirds of this program goes to the elderly and the handicapped. And though spending per person is projected to increase more slowly than private-health care, the Republicans want to slash this program too, in the name of controlling costs.

Ban on Leaded Gasoline (1975) Doctors have known for a hundred years how harmful lead poisioning is. Before the ban, over half of America's children had unsafe levels of lead in their blood. A few years after the ban, the average level fell by 37%. But if current Republican environmental proposals had been in effect in 1975, the EPA wouldn't have had the authority to institute such a ban.

Ban on DDT (1972) and PCBs (1976) Republicans supported industry's big fight against these bans, but since they became law, toxins in breast milk have fallen by an average of 90 percent in the last 30 years, and the amount of DDT in body fat has decreased by 79 percent from 1970 to 1983.

Ban on CFCs (1990) Chlorofluorocarbons are partly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer, thus allowing more harmful ultraviolet radiation to get through. Not only does the ban help reverse this, but it has led industry to develop alternatives that are in many cases cheaper and better. As Business Week puts it, this is "why business doesn't back the GOP backlash on the ozone."

Brady Law (1993) requires a 5-day waiting period when you buy a handgun to allow background checks. Republicans apparently feel having to wait at all is an infringement on a person's rights to bear deadly force.

BEA (1953) The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports on the state of the economy. In response to the GOP's push to cut BEA's budget, a Business Week editorial asks, "What use is an Information Age if the information is bad?".

Consumer Product Safety Commission (1972) Every year, consumer products result in 21,700 deaths and 28.6 million injuries. Republicans think industry can regulate itself when it comes to our health and safety.

Cooperative Extension Service (1914) We spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than any other country. Part of the reason for this is the CES which helps farmers by providing them with information and the latest agricultural research. And even though the CES has only 170 full-time federal employees, it too is on the GOP's chopping block.

Direct Student Loans (1992) When the Federal government is guaranteeing bank loans for tutition, banks make high profits on the interest they charge on such loans, while the government bears all the risk. As the backers of this bill thought, why not cut out the middleman? According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this would save us $6.8 billion by the year 2000. But Republicans voted to cap this program, and have their banking friends get risk-free profits again. And to make it appear fair to do so, these Republicans ordered the CBO to cook the books, by including in its evaluation administrative costs for direct lending, but not for the old system. Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI), called it for what it was, "blatant special interest protection".

Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) keeps a person from getting fired if they need up to 12 weeks off from their job to take care of a sick or newborn family member. You would think this would tie in with the Republicans' big talk on the need for solid families and values, but three-quarters of them in Congress voted against Family and Medical Leave. They believed the Act would cripple businesses, but the Labor Policy Association found that 73 percent of employers said that the new law had either a positive effect on their business or no impact at all. Despite this, the Republicans want to cut the enforcement budget.

GI Bill (1944) Since the end of WW2, this program has helped veterans make a successful return into society by paying their college tuition, and helping them get loans to buy homes and start businesses.

Green Lights Program (1991) Compact fluorescents use 47 percent less electricity than incandescents. The problem is they aren't in wide usage yet. So the EPA developed this program to help promote the new technology. As a result, enough businesses have 'switched over' to save themselves $53 billion. The federal taxes on their consequential higher profits will be much more than enough to pay for the small cost of 'Green Lights', but the Republicans recently proposed to scrap the whole program.

Human Genome Project (1990) The Federal government is helping scientists unlock genetic code and discover how genes play a role in disease and other disorders. This will revolutionize medicine. The Republicans aren't cutting this program in particular, but they are voting to cut government funded medical research in general by more than 25 percent, and civilian research by 35 percent.

Interstate Highway System (1956) We now have 43 thousand miles of interstate giving us "a free flow of commerce unparalleled in world history", according to 'American City and County' magazine.

Meals on Wheels (1972) gets a daily meal to many of the elderly, helping to ensure they get adequate nutrition. It is partially funded by its recipients, and by state and local government and organizations. Even though Pat Buchanan's now deceased mother was a chair of a chapter of the program, his party want to cut Meals on Wheels by ten percent.

Mine Safety & Health Administration (1969) Since MSHA was formed, fatalities due to mining have fallen by 400 percent. Republicans want to eliminate MSHA, which would cut mine inspection by 75 percent.

National Health Service Corps (1970) pays off the medical school loans for doctors and nurses who work for a small salary for at least two years in a remote or inner city area whose residents don't have adequate access to medical care. Republicans tried to cut NHSC in half.

National Parks (1916)

National Weather Service (1890)

Peace Corps (1961) sends 7000 grass roots American ambassadors every year to help improve conditions in third-world countries. There's over a six month waiting list even though volunteers make only $225 a month. The GOP wants to cut the PC by ten percent.

Reemployment Screening (1993) identifies laid-off workers who are likely to remain unemployed unless given special job search assistance. Every dollar spent on the program saved the government two, because workers singled out for assistance found work sooner on average. Republicans have underfunded employment services such as this.

School Lunches & Breakfasts (1946) Low-income kids depend on these programs for a third to half of their daily nutrition. And studies show that poor kids getting such meals did better in school than those who did not. But the GOP wants to cut these programs as well.

School to Work (1994) helps teenagers who are not going to college find careers. It encourages them to finish high school and gives them skills, experience, and links to the job market. In its first year, one study in Oregon found that the program cut the drop out rate by 62 percent. Though it's supported by many top corporate executives, Newt Gingrich wants to cut School to Work by a quarter.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (1965) Poor senior citizens are hired at minimum wage to do needed community jobs. The program is administered by ten nonprofit groups. Republicans have proposed eliminating it altogether.

Sesame Street (1969) helps prepare kids in 130 countries for school. It has been honored with 62 Emmys. While decrying all the violence kids see on commercial TV, Newt Gingrich has proposed completely eliminating federal funding for PBS.

Social Security (1935) ensures that after retiring from a lifetime of work, America's elderly have a guaranteed source of income. LBJ expanded Social Security in 1966 and reduced the number of seniors living in poverty from 30 to 12 percent.

WIC (1972) makes sure that low-income pregnant Women and Infant Children get adequate nutrition. The General Accounting Office has found the program saves three dollars in medicare costs for every dollar spent.

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