The basic premise of this post is simple. The current incarnation of the Republican Party is absolutely incompetent to run government, and the evidence is clear to anyone who bothers to look. I start with the national debt and economy, but I go a whole lot farther. Stick with this to the end, and you'll have a hell of a tool to use to show people. We have to defeat these people politically, and all we need is the truth. The two parties are NOT the same. The Republican Party is demonstrably less competent than the Democratic Party, and their political ideology is demonstrably a sham.
Let's start with whether or not we're "broke."
If anyone you know thinks this country is "broke," as Congressional Republicans keep repeating over and over, find out which planet he's from, and send them this article.
This economy's had some rough times lately, but get real; there's plenty of money here. Our economy is still the second-largest in the world after the European Union, and it's only second because the EU was actually cobbled together from a number of different countries. But that's based on GDP, which is the amount of wealth that is created and/or transfers each fiscal quarter or year. That's the first reason why right wingers can't be trusted with the economy; they are simply incapable of seeing economic issues in terms other than the current year or the current quarter. For example, the best way to retire the national debt is to run it up for a couple of years and invest a ton of money in infrastructure that creates jobs. When you create jobs, you create taxpayers, and when you create taxpayers, revenue goes up.
These people also still preach the gospel of "trickle-down economics," despite the fact that even its key architect, David Stockman, is screaming to anyone who'll listen that he was wrong. Not only does the concept of reducing taxes to increase revenues not make any logical sense; it's been implemented and proven wrong. And yet, right wing idiots STILL swear that every tax cut for rich people creates more jobs, and creates more revenue.
I want you to go HERE and check out these charts; reality will blow your mind. In 1980, Reagan and the right wing claimed the debt was growing out of control, despite the fact that it was actually at its lowest point as a percent of GDP since before the Great Depression. But in 8 years, Reagan tripled the size of the debt, and in 4 more after that, Bush, Sr. doubled it again. In the first 193 years of our democratic republic's existence, even with a number of wars, recessions and depressions, we only managed to accumulate $998 billion in debt, total. In 12 years with neo-con Republicans at the helm, more than $5 trillion in debt was added. Democrat Bill Clinton forced the Republicans in Congress to help him balance the budget, and they even created a surplus. By the time Clinton left in 2001, the federal government was scheduled to run surpluses for at least the next ten years, according to the CBO, and trim the then-$6 trillion to about $4.5 trillion in that time.
Unfortunately, Bush Junior was appointed president by the Supreme Court, and immediately enacted the least necessary tax cuts in the history of the republic, and appointed cronies and crooks to fail to oversee the financial system, resulting in immediate return to record deficit spending, even before the economic collapse he caused, by ignoring warnings given to him as early as 2003.
Even under the rosiest of perspectives for Republicans, they are responsible for at least 75% of the current national debt. Given that Obama and the Democrats have tried to kill the Bush tax cuts twice, and Republicans have blocked him, It's unfair to blame Obama for much at all. Look at what was handed to him when he took office, for starters. Even the current deficit can't be laid entirely at his doorstep. More than $400 billion is paid each year just to service the portion of the debt that can be tied to Republican excesses. (HERE is that number) In all, out of $14.5 trillion in debt [date of this post], more than $12 trillion of it can be laid at the feet of the party and the ideology currently whining about it to such a degree.
And let's make something clear; while $14.5 trillion is a lot of money, we are not BROKE, as the Republican leadership claims. A lot of the wealth that was claimed during the Bush years was phony -- there's no way home values should have ever been as high as they were, and a lot of securities shouldn't have existed in the first place, but in no way are we broke.
HERE are some numbers, so you can follow along. Total household wealth in the United States in 2001 was about $44.4 trillion. At the bubble's peak, that number went to about $66 trillion. I know it sounds contradictory to many, but a healthy economy does NOT grow wealth by 50% in a half dozen years. That means someone in charge had to know, or at least should have known, there was a problem, and they did nothing about it. At its lowest point during the recession, total household wealth bottomed out at $48.5 trillion. It should have been higher, but it still doesn't constitute "broke." In fact, the number is still higher than in 2001, when we were apparently so UN-broke, Republicans were cutting taxes for the rich to the bone. By the end of 2009, household wealth was back up to $54 trillion, which would seem to indicate we were even LESS broke, not more.
The total amount of wealth in the United States currently tops $82 trillion, and is the largest in the world. Calling this country "broke" is like claiming Bill Gates went "broke" after the tech bubble burst because his net worth was cut nearly in half, to "only" about $46 billion. The fact is, if the debt is such a HUGE problem -- if it was causing our country to go down in flames, as some Republicans seem to claim, we could institute a one-time "wealth tax" of 10% and wipe out two-thirds of the debt all at once. (For the record, I am NOT for anything so drastic, because it's unnecessary, and it would actually be very dangerous. When the national debt gets to $30 trillion, call me.)
Here's another perspective. As a percentage of GDP, the current debt is still under 100%, although one major reason for that is that GDP shrunk a little for two years. That's not good, but it's not unprecedented. After World War II, the debt was 120% of GDP, and in 35 years, we reduced it to about 33% of GDP. We are capable of dealing with such debt, IF we use the money to invest in those things that create more revenue, like building infrastructure. We could borrow and spend another $2 trillion right now to build infrastructure programs, and the resultant tax revenue would actually increase the GDP AND increase tax revenues AND reduce the debt, all without necessarily raising tax rates. If we spend money on the right things, we can actually pay that money back and start paying down the debt in a much shorter time than if we just cut spending. Where do Republicans think government spending goes, anyway? They seem to think it disappears like magic, but it doesn't; it goes into pockets and bank accounts, and eventually gets invested and spent.
To put it mildly, Republicans are not to be trusted with the economy. Every major economic problem in this country for the last century can be traced to the GOP. When the economy tanks, their solution is to do nothing, which always makes the situation worse. They keep proposing the same economic policies they've pushed since the 1920s, which have been proven detrimental time and time again. They don't care about deficits unless it's to their political advantage. And when they complain about them, they still refuse to take any steps to actually solve the problem, such as raising taxes on the very rich, even temporarily.
Republicans are constantly trying create an "unregulated free market," which is a recipe for disaster. If you think otherwise, try this experiment. Take your money out of your bank and drive to a mall in the richest neighborhood you can find. Now, leave all of that cash on your car seat in full view of everyone with the windows open and the doors unlocked. How much of that money will be there when you get back, do you think. THAT is an "unregulated free market," folks.
Why are we forced to listen to these people? Why are they allowed to have a forum that is at least equal to everyone else, and why doesn't anyone call them on their rhetoric? Journalists, do your goddamn job! The next time some Republican asshole is on your show telling you that cutting taxes increases revenue, be rude and call "bullshit" and show him the statistics that prove that. The stats I use in this column are very easy to find.
But let's get deeper than the federal budget deficit. There's a lot more.
To hear a typical Republican tell it, one would think their red states are a paradise, where everyone lives a chaste, moral, Biblical life. Of course, those who live in "liberal" blue states might as well be living in a jungle, run by the devil himself. After all, the narrative is that Republicans are all moral, peaceful and God-fearing, while Democrats are all heathenish retches who kill babies and coddle terrorists.
Ever bothered to look at the relative safety, security and economic stability of red states versus the blue states? Compare red states with blue states, and you are left with a road map of right wing Republican incompetence.
Note; in the statistics below, I left Washington, DC out of the mix on purpose. It's not a state, and the city is largely run by Congress. Plus, a large portion of its population for most of the day is transient, which tends to skew per capita figures to a very great degree.
I've provided links so you can check my work.
Let's start this with some basic economics.
Here's a list of the ten states with the highest median incomes: 1. New Hampshire, 2. Connecticut 3. Maryland 4. New Jersey 5. Alaska 6. Virginia 7. Hawaii 8. Massachusetts, 9. Colorado 10. Washington.
Notice something about the above? Except for Alaska, whose numbers are skewed because of their largely socialized economy, in which oil companies pay them money for simply living there and pay their taxes for them, and the purplish Virginia and New Hampshire, ALL are bright BLUE.
Just as interesting are the BOTTOM ten states; 50. Mississippi 49. Arkansas 48 West Virginia, 47. Tennessee 46. Kentucky 45. Louisiana, 44.Alabama 43. Montana 42. South Carolina 41. North Carolina.
Notice something about that list? Yeah, Except for West Virginia, which can be a bit purple, all if the above states are reliably RED.
The above statistics have been pretty much static for the last 40 years; the groupings haven't changed much. And the poverty levels back that up.
The ten states with the highest populations living below the poverty line are: 1. Mississippi, 21.6%, 2. Louisiana, 19.4%, 3. New Mexico, 19.3%, 4. Arkansas, 17.9%, 5. West Virginia, 17.9%, 6. Kentucky, 17.4%, 7. Texas, 16.6%, 8. Alabama, 16.1%, 9. South Carolina, 15.7%, 10. Oklahoma, 15.3%. Yep, Republican-led states have far more poor than Democratic-led states.
Again, I ask; why are these people telling us how to put people to work and increase tax revenue? Why are they even given a forum to complain about what "liberals" and Democrats do to the economy? They're running the poorest states in the country, and they won't be satisfied until they've done the same thing for everyone else.
Let's go beyond economy. There's a lot more to the story. States run by Republicans are just terrible places to live, in some ways. For example, they're always posturing themselves as being "tough on crime"? Read it and watch the Republicans weep.
The ten states with the highest violent crime rate are, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Statistics for 2006 via the Census Bureauare 1. South Carolina, 2. Tennessee, 3. Nevada, 4. Florida, 5. Louisiana, 6. Alaska, 7. Delaware, 8. Maryland, 9. New Mexico, 10. Michigan.
Yes, you read that right. The states with the highest violent crime rate are mostly RED, not blue. And if we dig down to the top 15, the only blue states added are Illinois and California, which means ten of the 15 states with the highest violent crime rates in the country are reliably Republican. Also note that New York and New Jersey are NOT on that list, and that bastion of liberalism, Massachusetts, is actually near the bottom.
When you focus just on the murder rate, note that, of the 19 states with rates higher than the US average, 14 are RED states. The states with the highest murder ratesin 2009 follow the same pattern; 1. Louisiana, 2. New Mexico, 3. Maryland, 4. Tennessee, 5. Alabama 6. Mississippi 7. Missouri 8. South Carolina 9. Michigan 10. Oklahoma. Eight of the ten states are reliably RED, folks.
And they love the gun in those red states, don't they? They will swear with their dying breath that the gun protects them. But check out the ten states with the highest firearm death rate (by now, you should be able to guess most of them); 1. Alaska, 2. Louisiana, 3. Wyoming, 4. Arizona, 5. Nevada, 6. Mississippi, 7. New Mexico, 8. Arkansas, 9. Alabama, 10. Tennessee.
Just for giggles, check out the states with the LOWEST firearm death rate. I'm only pointing this out to make the people in the red states squirm. 50. Hawaii, 49. Massachusetts, 48. Connecticut, 47. New Jersey, 46. New York, 45. Rhode Island, 44 New Hampshire, 43. Minnesota, 42. Maine, 41. Iowa.
Besides the fact that most of them are BLUE states, they put a lie to the claim Republicans make, that states with the strictest gun laws have the most shooting deaths. That's simply not true, is it? You have a far greater chance of being shot and killed in Caribou Barbie's Alaska than in New York or New Jersey. It's that cognitive dissonance, folks; they can't help themselves.
Perhaps their cognitive dissonance is because of their lack of education. I know you may find it hard to believe, but despite their efforts to force us to run schools their way, they don't have a very good track record. (I highlighted one you might appreciate.)
Let's start with the ten states with the highest graduation rates in 2008: %1. Vermont, 86.6% 2. Wisconsin, 85.6% 3. Minnesota, 85.3% 4. New Jersey, 85.2% 5. Iowa, 83.9% 6. South Dakota, 82.7% 7. North Dakota, 81.9 8. New Hampshire, 80.6 9. Pennsylvania, 79.5% 10. Nebraska, 79.5. Again, 7 out of 10 reliably blue. And Wisconsin, which its current Republican Governor is trying to claim is being ripped off by its teachers, has the second best rate.
But check out the bottom ten. (I'd say "just for fun," but it's really not funny; these are the people expected to take over the country later.) Again, you can almost guess who most of them are. 50.Nevada 49.South Carolina, 48.Louisiana, 47.Georgia, 46.Florida 45.New Mexico, 44.Mississippi 43.Alabama 42. Texas 41.Delaware.
Okay, so governments run by Republicans tend to be poorer, have more crime and less successful educational systems. That's okay, because they're more moral than those damn liberals, right?
They claim they hold marriage so sacred that gays shouldn't be allowed to partake of it, for fear that to allow that will hurt the "sanctity of marriage." But how "sanctified" do they hold marriage. The ten states with the highest divorce rates are as follows; 1. Nevada, 2. Arkansas, 3. Alaska, 4. Oklahoma, 5. Wyoming, 6. West Virginia, 7. Alabama, 8. Idaho, 9. Florida, 10. Tennessee.
In all fairness, we should probably leave Nevada off the above list, because tacky people from all over the country get divorced there. But all of the others are reliably red, except West Virginia, which is a bit purple.
What about teen pregnancy? They're always on about that, right? Surely, with so many right wingers claiming that “abstinence-only” education is the key, their girls must be chaste and virtuous, right? Well, you tell me. Here are the ten states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy; 1. Nevada, 2. Arizona, 3. Mississippi, 4. New Mexico, 5. Texas, 6. Florida, 7. California, 8. Georgia, 9. North Carolina, 10. Arkansas. Once again, except for California, all of pretty reliably red over the years.
It's pretty clear that the right wing Republicans' track record regarding their pet issues is pretty poor. But it gets even better.
Republican lawmakers have spent more than two years whining about health care reform, to the point that one might think they were screwed. One might think that the states with the largest numbers of uninsured would be most in favor of creating a national health insurance system, right?
Not when one major party is dominated by hypocrites.
By now, I'm sure you can almost guess which states have the HIGHEST number of uninsured citizensin 2006-2007, before health insurance reform. 50. Texas (24.8%) 49. New Mexico (22.7%) 48. Florida (20.7%) 47. Louisiana (20.2%) 46. Mississippi (19.8%) 45. Arizona (19.6%) 44. California (18.5%) 42 (T) Oklahoma and Nevada (18.4%) 41. Arkansas (17.5%).
Now, check out the states with the LOWEST proportion of uninsured:
1. Massachusetts (7.9%) 2. Hawaii (8.2%) 3. Wisconsin (8.5%) 4. Minnesota (8.8%) 5. Maine (9.1%) 6. Connecticut (9.4%) 7. Rhode Island (9.7%) 8. Pennsylvania (9.8%) 9. Iowa (9.9%) 10. Vermont (10.7%)
By the way, the two states with the smallest proportion of uninsured also have something akin to the health care plan being proposed by Congress. Coincidence? And in Massachusetts, the number of uninsured was intolerable to Mitt Romney, which is why he gladly signed Romney-care.
The final nail I'll drive into the Republicans' political coffin has to do with their claims of "economic independence. They're always on about "welfare," and they whined about the "stimulus package that was passed in 2009. Remember their disgust over corporate bailouts, even though they've been huge fans of such things until President Obama came along? They've always claimed to be advocates for states' rights, and always seem to demand as much autonomy from the government as possible.
Well, the hypocrisy cup runneth over, folks.
Meet the state welfare queens. These are the states that get the most bang for every buck they pay in federal taxes. Every single one of them gets more federal tax money than they pay in, which means other states get less than they pay in. Next to each state is how much money they get back for every dollar in federal taxes they pay in; 1. New Mexico, $2.03 2. Mississippi, $2.02, 3. Alaska, $1.84, 4. Louisiana, $1.78, 5. West Virginia, $1.76, 6. North Dakota, $1.68, 7. Alabama, $1.66, 8. South Dakota, $1.53, 9. Kentucky, $1.51, 10. Virginia, $1.51.
First off, a case can be made that purple Virginia shouldn't even be there, because the far northern part is "DC Lite." But the same could be said of Maryland, and it's not on that list. Number 11 is Montana, anyway, so it almost doesn't matter.
Now, based on Republican logic, the following states should be ones screaming the loudest about those Red State welfare queens. These are the ten states who receive the LEAST federal money; 50. New Jersey, $0.61, 49. Nevada, $0.65, 48. Connecticut, $0.69, 47. New Hampshire, $0.71, 46. Minnesota, $0.72, 45. Illinois, $0.75, 44. Delaware, $0.77, 43. California, $0.78, 42. New York, $0.79, 41. Colorado, $0.81.
In other words, forget their whining. The fact is, Democratic-Party-led states are largely subsidizing Republican-led states. If you live in a red state, and you have low taxes, you should be THANKING the people of California, New York and New Jersey. Next time California has a debt crisis, understand that one major reason is because their federal tax money is going straight into red state pockets to give political cover to their Republican governors. Instead of pointing and laughing at California, you stupid right wing Republicans, send them some of your welfare money instead.
Put simply, the current incarnation of the Republican Party consists of hypocrites. But more importantly, their political philosophy is KILLING the country. Anytime someone tries to convince you that Republicans are better at running the government, show them these stats. In fact, print this and hand it out to any co-worker who argue that Democrats are screwing things up. It might not shut them up, but it'll make you feel better.
Moderator: If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, the top tax bracket of 35% would go back up to 39.6% (for income over $379,000 a year), and tax on capital gains (like CEO stock options) would go back from 15% to 20% - - but this is what needs changed. Capital gains and dividends should be taxed as regular income. That's how the ultra-wealthy make most their income (instead of paying taxes in the higher income bracket, they pay the lower capital gains rate), and that's how Warren Buffett's secretary pays a higher effective tax rate for income taxes than her boss.