New title, same worn policies

The GOP’s [insert optimistic-sounding promise] to America.

Ian J Byrne

ThereâÄôs a YouTube video depicting one of President George W. BushâÄôs many interesting quotes from the course of his presidency. “ThereâÄôs an old saying in Tennessee, I know itâÄôs in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says, fool me once âÄî shame on, shame on you. Fool me âÄî you canâÄôt get fooled again,” says the former president in a very matter of fact tone.

What Bush was alluding to was the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Republicans across the nation are jockeying for votes for the November midterm elections. Visions are being presented and promises made. I have accepted the fact that Republicans will make substantial gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but within a yearâÄôs time will voters realize that the GOP has fooled them for the umpteenth time?

In a move that mimics the strategy leading up to the 1994 midterm elections, which saw a Republican takeover of Congress, the GOP recently released “A Pledge to America.” The 45-page document presents ideas on how to create jobs, fix the economy, rein in spending, repeal recent health care legislation and enact other pipe dreams of traditional Republican policy.

In President Barack ObamaâÄôs weekly video address Saturday, he called the ideas put forth by the GOP last week “worn-out philosophy,” which is the closest the president will come to saying the ideas are terrible. Well, that shouldnâÄôt surprise anyone. What did surprise me is that a text exists that reads worse than a Stephenie Meyer novel.

The foreword states: “An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down longstanding laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people.”

Interestingly enough, this also describes the state of affairs during the Bush administration when Republicans ran the “compliant legislature” for six years of those eight years. Yes, Democrats were involved as well. However, the Republican Party is trying to portray itself as the responsible steward of the nation. IâÄôd say they had a terrible audition back then.

The typical “tax cuts fix everything” ideology is present throughout. When will Republicans, or, more importantly, the people who vote for them, realize that tax cuts are not a one-size-fits-all solution to our economic problems?

The “pledge” states: “Taxpayers are literally funding programs from cradle to grave.” Taxes fund the regulatory agencies that made sure my cradle wasnâÄôt made of asbestos and will allow the cars in my funeral procession to have an average of 154 miles per gallon. But really IâÄôm secretly hoping that taxes will fund technologies that allow me to live forever.

Republican ideas for balancing the budget include: acting immediately to reduce spending, cut government spending to pre-stimulus and pre-bailout levels, establish a new cap on discretionary spending, cut CongressâÄô budget, hold weekly votes on spending cuts, root out government waste and reform the budget process to focus on long-term challenges. It is not feasible to enact all these proposed tax and spending cuts while addressing
“long-term challenges.”

David Stockman, former Republican Congressman from Michigan and director of the U. S. Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 under President Ronald Reagan, advocated a fiscal policy called “starve the beast.” It suggests that if the federal government cuts taxes, then the government is forced to cut spending and thus “shrink.”

In a February 2010 interview, Stockman said, “I think the lesson of the last 25 years is that it [starving the beast] doesnâÄôt work âĦ The Republicans think their mission in life is to cut taxes. Sorry, game over. WeâÄôre now in the tax-raising business. And weâÄôre going to be in the tax-raising business for the next decade.” It doesnâÄôt bode well when one of the creators of “Reaganomics,” which is what Republicans are proposing, says that it doesnâÄôt work.

“The number of House legislative days devoted to action on noncontroversial and often insignificant âÄòsuspensionâÄô bills is up significantly in this Congress by comparison with the past several Congresses, wasting time and taxpayer resources,” states the “pledge.” A Foreign Affairs article states that the Republican Congress of the 1990s heard 140 hours of testimony investigating claims that President Bill Clinton had used his Christmas mailing list to identify potential campaign donors. Compare that to the 12 hours of testimony heard by the then-Republican Congress following the horrific mistreatment of prisoners that took place at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004-2005. These are well-defined
priorities, people.

In anticipation of taking control of the House of Representatives, Republicans are gearing up for investigations into the Obama administration. In less than two years, Republicans have proven that they are much more hostile to the Obama administration than they were to ClintonâÄôs. I donâÄôt even know where to begin when thinking about what absurd investigations crack up this time around.

IâÄôm not convinced the GOPâÄôs plans will ever evolve from what theyâÄôve been doing for decades. You know, it would really be great if Republicans came into power and helped to fix everything. But with these policies laid out, IâÄôm highly skeptical. For now, all I can do is wait and quote my favorite fictional athlete Rod Tidwell and say, “show me the money.”


Ian J Byrnewelcomes comments at [email protected].ãÄÄ