Republicans fight for tax cuts and deregulation. And their success has been extraordinary. Since 1981, they have beat and pummeled the Democrats into a bloody pulp.
Then, in righteous anger, the Republican juggernaut blames the abused Democrats for the deficits -- implying they've gone on a drunken spending binge -- and bankrupted the country.
As I listen to Republicans on television and radio, I want to hit any Democrat I meet.
Instead, I decided to read objective college textbooks that summarized events and consult straight-shooting conservatives -- excepting The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities -- to understand what went wrong.
To find the country we want back:
Let's begin at the dawn of the 1981 Reagan Revolution -- with Sen. Orrin Hatch's corresponding 1976 election to the U.S. Senate -- and the glorious and triumphant victory of tax cuts and deregulation.
Before Reagan, Howard E. Shuman writes in "Politics and the Budget," the national debt was $ 908.5 billion. By 1989, Reagan's final budget year, the gross federal debt was in excess of 2.8 trillion dollars. Shuman concludes "it would be three times the size of all deficits of the previous thirty-nine presidents."
In his first speech, Reagan distanced himself from these "Carter deficits" by establishing that his budget year did not start until Oct. 1, 1981. Reagan stated, "The interest on the public debt this year will be over $90 billion..."
By Reagan's final budget year of 1989, the yearly interest on the debt had nearly tripled to $240 billion. (Figures not attributed to an author are from TreasuryDirect, a U.S. Government website.)
And to multiply his deficit gifts, Reagan indexed tax rates to the cost of living. In The Public Agenda, Lawrence G. Brewster states that indexing created annual deficits in excess of $ 50 billion per year after 1987.
Whether or not indexing was a good thing, the consequence was a structural, yearly and continually increasing addition to the federal deficit. Who benefits is another story.
And finally, again from Brewster, before Reagan, military expenditures adjusted for inflation grew only 1.8 percent a year. After Reagan, (1982-1987) military expenditures grew to 8.1 percent per year, or about four times as fast.
By the time he left office, Reagan had increased military spending 43 percent over Vietnam levels.
Shuman quoted Murray Weidenbaum, Reagan's Chairman/Council of Economic Advisers (1982 Assoc. Press interview): "On balance, we really haven't cut the budget. Instead, the much-publicized reductions in non-military programs the President has won from Congress have been fully offset by the unprecedented growth in military spending. When you add that to the big tax cuts, you get...horrendous deficits."
Bush I and Clinton each added about $1.5 trillion to the deficit. A Rep/Dem wash; lets leave it at that. Clinton left office with the total national deficit at about 5.7 trillion.
So how did Bush I limit the deficit increase to $1.5 trillion? Bush I raised taxes. And Clinton? He did a piggyback off Bush I tax hikes, also raised taxes, and cut military spending.
But the Republicans of 2001 had a better idea: "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase." (A policy explanation by President Bush on Feb. 8, 2006.)
"In short," as The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities states, "President Bush came into office with the budget projected to produce surpluses of $5.6 trillion over ten years (2002-2011) if he simply maintained its course. But he changed course dramatically, and when President Obama took office, that course had the budget headed toward deficits of $10.6 trillion over ten years (2010-2019).
The tax cuts and deregulation highlights of the Bush II/Republicans:
1) 2001 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act,
2) 2003 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act,
3) 2003 Medicare Modernization Act,
4) 2004 SEC leverage deregulation (Consolidated Supervised Entities),
5)2005 Tax increase Prevention and Reco nciliation Act,
6)The Wall Street crash: $11 trillion in collapsed pensions & savings, a stagnant economy, 10 percent unemployment and lower tax revenues,
7) 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (the Wall Street bailouts),
8) The off-the-budget wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
9) The accumulating interest or debt service on the above.
The Bush II final budget year of 2009 ended with a national deficit of $11.9 trillion.
In his 2008 book, "Bad Money," Kevin Phillips calls the belief in the efficiency and reliability of markets -- the basis for Reaganomics -- as a misleading financial ideology. He calls it "Bullnomics" and it fueled "the crisis-spangled boom that began in 1982 (and that, depending on one's calculus) either ended in the 2000 crash or double-bubbled into 2007-8."
As of November 2010, Republican tax cuts have not raised tax revenues.
Patricio Cisneros Ortega lives in Ogden. Contact him at email@example.com