Friday, November 19, 2010

Wait, Wait, Don't Tax Me

Hey! Do you know what would totally solve that whole deficit crisis thing that most people don't really care about? Getting rid of the funding for those Nazis over at NPR because of their violation of the first amendment when they stopped giving Juan Williams a paycheck.

Also too - doing away with earmarks. So long as they are not for transportation projects concerning Minnesota's 6th district, because as we all know, those aren't really earmarks at all, because Michele Bachmann says so, and we all know that earmarks freedom dollars for transportation projects desired by Republicans can never be wasteful.

So... It's become pretty obvious at this point that the GOP establishment is going to attempt to keep their Tea Partiers at bay with symbolic spending cuts that are aimed more at pissing off liberals then helping reduce the country's deficit burden. Which the Tea Party will dig because really guys, it's never been about taxes with them. Ever. And golly, who could have predicted that the Republicans wouldn't be serious about actually cutting spending after a full ten years of paying lip services to fiscal responsibility while going on a mad spending spree?

I would hope that the Democrats start hitting Republicans hard on this. I mean, seriously? How fucking stupid do you have to be to say that a bridge isn't an earmark when the most well-known joke of an earmark is a fucking bridge? I mean, I know the whole bridge thing was supposed to be shifted to ridiculing funding for volcano monitoring and all, but that didn't work out so well, did it? No, it's the bridge, it's always the bridge, that will be the symbol of wasteful spending, and will someone please throw this in Bachmann's face?

But I bring this up not just to hate on Bachmann, because it would be snarky and immature to use a blog post to point out yet again that she's a complete moron. No, I bring this up because there's an obvious theme here guys. And it's probably about time we started playing on it.

Despite all the bravado and sweet talk from the supposed spending slashers in congress, they have no interest in actually cutting spending. "Big Government", in the sense of "I don't want my tax money to help those people", sure. And if they can destroy a few liberal institutions under the guise of "cutting spending, they will toe that party line, because merely stating "Well, why wouldn't we? It pisses off liberals, doesn't it?" doesn't sell as well with independents as it does with the base. But as far as actual spending cuts go? NPR? That's nothing. Even earmarks, as much grief as they get, are nothing more then a tiny, minuscule amount of what makes up government spending, and are taken out of already appropriated money. And if you are just going to exempt those things that your constituents want, it's completely meaningless.

The big problem we have right now in terms of the deficit is health care. Mind you, this is what the Democrats shot themselves in the head over trying to fix (and didn't get that far, in some respects), and what the Republicans, in an attempt to appease the Tea Party, want to dismantle, even though they have no viable suggestions on how to fix what is the real problem with our deficit outlook today. Their health care "plan" actually adds to the deficit. But sure, let's ignore all that and ban some earmarks.

It's a pretty simple soundbite. The only thing borrow and spend Republicans like more then promising to lower your taxes is benevolently receiving the gratitude of their constituents at ribbon cutting ceremonies. It would be very helpful to the health of the country if we started pointing that out.

And yes, I realize that attempting to point out the Republican bait and switch in regards to spending is playing within their frame of "spending = bad". Yes, the liberal in me would love to have a discussion about the positive effect government spending can have in it's citizens lives (Look at this graph. Look at the income tax rates. Then think of your history, and what this country accomplished during the time of high income tax rates. Now look at what those rates are currently. Now think of the last awesome thing this country has actually done to make us the envy of the world. Then cry a little). And likewise, the libertarian in me would love to have an actual discussion about wasteful spending programs, usually those that revolve around the "This is completely useless, but the base will love it" types like drug wars, actual wars, border fences, failed education programs, and close-your-legs-problem-solved sex education.

But we can't have either of these conversations until we point out the obvious fact that today's mainstream "fiscal conservatives" just... aren't. And that's going to be hard to shake, because the stink of "fiscally conservative" Republicans "tax and spend" liberals rhetoric that has been around since Reaganomics screwed us all (and even he raised taxes) is still going strong in popular culture today. But until we start making some inroads in regards to why this dogma is completely false, until we start pointing out that amazingly enough, those services and projects that you liked weren't actually paid for by unicorn farts, we have to argue within this framework in order to destroy it.

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