In the days leading up to the 2010 elections, it appears likely that Republicans and their Tea Party allies will take control of the House and make major gains in the Senate. Given current election statistics, Republicans may come ahead with 230+ House Seats and trail dems 49 to 51 on the Senate side. With greater control gained, Republicans and Tea Partiers will have a much larger voice and a substantial ability to assert their agendas and policies.
Though this conclusion may sound obvious, it is uncertain that many Americans understand what, in a broader sense, greater Republican/Tea Party control might mean for the integrity of our democracy and the economy upon which we all rely. So, for your consideration, here’s a basic break-down of Republican/Tea Party policies and their implications.
#1 Make Certain Barak Obama Doesn’t Get Re-Elected
According to Senator Mitch McConnell “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
As occurred since day 1 of the Obama Presidency, Republicans/Tea Partiers have been determined to undermine, denigrate, and, if possible, eliminate Obama’s presidency. And as you have it from McConnell, this is the most important goal for his party.
The Deficit? Not as important as attacking Obama. Jobs? Not so much. The economy? We’ll get around to it after we take down that evil, socialist, terrorist.
This may well be a goal that resonates with Fox News misinformed Republicans or the Glenn Beck religious Tea Party faithful. But engage a little rationality and it becomes entirely clear that a political party whose #1 goal is to destroy a presidential legacy isn’t going to achieve much that is positive for the American people. In fact, what it amounts to is an all-out war on the office of the president itself, if not the American people or American democracy as a whole.
So in the Republican/Tea party war on Obama, expect these possible results:
- Attempted and/or successful government shut-downs.
- A birther resolution in the US House.
- Various spurious impeachment attempts.
- Shows of public denigration to the president in Congress.
These various forms of political violence and time-wasting propaganda-peddling occupy the primary slot for Republican/Tea Party reps. Grinding government to a halt, submitting fraudulent claims about the president’s place of birth, and other distractions all take precedence over doing real work to improve the lives of the people of this country.
Unemployed? Too bad. Your troubles take a back seat to the Republican/Tea Party vendetta against Obama.
#2 Ship Jobs Overseas
After taking on an ailing President Obama, Republican/Tea Partiers will shift to their next objective. Under aegis of “Supporting the Free Market,” they will continue to support policies and regulations that encourage American companies to ship jobs overseas. The reason for this is that many of the Republican/Tea Party’s wealthy donors operate international businesses that have no stake in overall American success in the world economy. As long as profits can be made, they do not care where or how. Such profits increase when companies can avoid hiring better-paid American workers and can, instead, ‘hire’ employees in foreign countries under conditions nearing economic slavery. It is these policies that resulted in the migration of over 23,000 American factories to locations overseas during the past decade while the bubble in the housing market masked the real problem – the de-industrialization of America. A re-assertion of these policies, as Republican/Tea Partiers plan, will create further hardship for the American people and result in the overall degradation of our economy.
#3 Repeal the Minimum Wage (Attack the Living Wage)
There has been much talk among Republican/Tea Partiers recently about repealing the Minimum Wage. Though many economists still believe the minimum wage is too low to support a healthy working base to the Middle Class, Republican/Tea Partiers are pushing to repeal it altogether. The result of such a policy would be to create the potential for conditions of economic slavery to exist within the United States. And though it may help deal with the employment problem, people working under wages that are unable to support any kind of a decent standard of living will not provide a benefit to the overall economy.
The result of such a repeal will, as in other cases, result in a levitation of wealth up to the wealthy and away from the poor and middle classes. Such an increase in income inequality will further strain and, more than likely, endanger any reasonable economic recovery.
#4 De-fund Essential Government Services (“Cut Taxes,” ” Cut Spending”)
After taking down the president, shipping jobs overseas, and engaging in class warfare by attacking the minimum wage, you would think Republicans might actually spend some time doing something helpful or productive. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, after the president, jobs, and workers’ wages, the larger US economy falls directly into the cross-hairs.
A primary goal of the Republican/Tea Party has been and remains to “Cut taxes for all Americans.” In general, no-one likes paying taxes, so the idea to sell here is that all tax cuts are always good. What this masks is an outright attack on the most equitable tax code ever conceived – in short, the progressive tax where every American is basically required to pay the same percentage in taxes based on their income. So everyone pays X on the first twenty or so thousand of their income. If you’re fortunate enough to make some thousands more, you pay Y on that. And so on, and so on, until you’re a lucky billionare paying PDQ on your gravy train money. It used to be that all income fell under this fair system. Unfortunately, in the 80’s, capital gains became a different kind of income and thereby created a whole new wealthy class able to circumvent the equities of the US code. Ironically, rather than be glad for their windfall, this class has constantly and consistently pushed to have their taxes reduced to zero, while the rest of us are forced to pay into the more equitable system.
The result of this disparity has been three-fold.
- Less real government revenue resulting in less real government products and services.
- A greater comparative tax burden placed on all wage earners, primarily, the middle class.
- Expanding income inequality since that time.
Now, during a time when government deficits are higher than ever and government services are more needed more than at any time since the great depression, Republican/Tea Partiers and their wealthy allies are pushing to reduce taxes on the wealthy even more.
In general the aim of Republican/Tea Party policies will be to:
- Cut taxes (with an emphasis on cutting taxes for the wealthy)
- Reduce spending (with an emphasis on cutting those programs that help the middle class most: Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Benefits, Social Security, Scientific Research, Small Business Funding [the real kind], Investment in Infrastructure [read jobs], VA Benefits etc.).
The net effect of this class warfare against the middle class is to make the rich richer and the rest of us poorer. When those upon which the real tax burden falls – the middle class – can’t afford any longer to pay it, when the wealthy who are the only ones making money in this economy get their taxes cut further, it creates a major likelihood for a budget train-wreck. In this case, deficits aren’t really reduced at all by the marginal spending reductions on programs already cut to the bone, but instead explode.
Furthermore, Since government relies on tax revenue to do everything from defend this country, to research cutting edge medicine, to putting people in space, to helping the old, sick, and needy, to educate, to stimulate the economy during times of economic hardship, or simply to put out fires, the end result of the Republican ‘the answer to all problems is to cut taxes and spending’ ideology is a government incapable of helping people at a time when people need help most.
In a time of economic hardship, this is the exact wrong thing to do. If the private sector fails, as it has monumentally, to provide prosperity and the means to produce wealth for all, then government must step in to fill the gap until the economy stabilizes. A failure to do so would simply result in further collapse. Furthermore, government must continue to address the inequities caused by any failure until the system becomes righted. Otherwise, collapse will occur again and again and again.
Part of this disconnect between reality and fantasy comes from Republican/Tea Party backers who, inevitably, tend to be wealthy beyond the immediate need for most government services. These people mistakenly believe that they are, somehow, disconnected from the whole of American life and that our general well-being doesn’t have an impact on their own. In short, they can make massive profits funding candidates who support cutting their taxes while de-funding American government and society as a whole. And, in perfect James Bond Villain style, they can bask on their super-yachts safely distant from their disintegrating homeland.
In their world-view, your house burning down and no-one arriving to put out the fire is simply your own tough luck (and probably due to your own irresponsibility or negligence), your inability to afford to put your kids into private schools (because the Tea Party closed your public school) is probably because you didn’t work hard enough, the inability of NASA to return men to the moon is simple ‘government inefficiency’ (not a NASA de-funded by big money funded lobbyists whose special interests all take precedent over the advancement of the human species). And, apparently, they don’t mind living in the times of social and economic apocalypse they are creating.
#5 Privatize Everything
Of course, the primary goal of Republicans/Tea Partiers is to take as many government services as possible and make them private. In this way, wealthy investors can reap profits from what, in the past, was done entirely for the benefit of society at large. Currently, the primary goals include:
- Privatize Education
- Privatize Social Security
In the case of education, privatization would be nothing short of a great leap backward in which some children lose their access to any education whatsoever. Under a privatized system, those who do not pay or have access to government-funded vouchers, don’t have access to education. During a time of economic difficulty, when all budgets are tight, the likelihood increases that students from poor, unemployed, or low-income families will not gain access to education. Furthermore, since private educational institutions operate to generate a profit, more middle class income and tax revenue will be levitated up the economic spectrum to wealthy investors and away from those who currently need it most – the middle class.
Privatization of Social Security will also add the burden of requiring investor profits, moving wealth away from the middle class. Furthermore, a Social Security fund linked to stock markets will be vulnerable to boom and bust cycles, like the one we just passed through. In the end, some will fall through the widening cracks creating further economic hardship and resulting in more downward pressures on the overall economy.
#6 Repeal Health Care Reform
Ever since Republicans/Tea Partiers labeled Health Care Reform as a socialist attempt to kill old people, they have been attempting to water it down and/or repeal it. In short, the current free market system, which actually results in killing old people or making them bankrupt by denying them medical services, is preferable.
If Health Care reform is repealed, profits for the major medical providers will increase while more middle class families go bankrupt due to being unable to pay for their medical expenses. In other words, more wealth will be levitated up to the wealthy while the middle class continues to shrink doing further damage to our already fragile economy.
#7 Repeal/Erode the First Amendment (Create a National Religion)
Though the economic impacts of eroding the separation between Church and State and de-secularizing government are not immediately transparent, the deep divisions sewed throughout society by such a revision would have lasting economic impact. For example, the wasting of time to teach children such subjective theologies as Creationism as a viable alternative to the scientifically useful theory of evolution, would do much to dumb down an education system already slated for looting by private interests. Further, to make the US a State officially backed by Christianity would immediately and needlessly put our country at odds with other Theocracies around the world, increasing political tension and the likelihood of warfare during a time when budget constraints make war a terrible economic option.
A Great Leap Backward
Finally, nearly all the policy goals for the Republican/Tea Party constitute nothing less than a great leap backward for American society as a whole. They push us into a place where we are less powerful as individuals, more divided and segregated to one another, more vulnerable to frauds and economic pillaging by wealthy entities, and less informed about the truth of our place in the world and our universe. Such a power shift could only do harm to our current fragile economy and to our union as a whole. If the Republican/Tea Party wins the gains predicted, it will be a very sad day for our democracy indeed.