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Conservative myths

by John David Rose Saturday, Jul. 03, 2004 at 4:11 PM

The current crop of GOP candidates parrots absurdities about term limits and fiscal responsibility--makes you wonder if they have any concept of the real world.

Carolina Morning News, July 2, 2004

Think About It

State Rep. JoAnne Gilham pledged to limit herself to three terms. Now that she's fulfilled her three terms, Gilham calls her pledge a "naive mistake." Credit her with more honesty than most of her GOP ilk despite her belated recognition that seniority and experience count for something.

Republicans decided the only way to defeat long-serving Democrats was to impose term limits. They didn't explain it that way, however. They told the public that this was the best way to guarantee "non-professional citizen-legislators." Conservative officials backpedaled like crazy when the political pendulum swung their way.

Does "hoist on their own petard" come to mind?

The current crop of GOP candidates parrots similar absurdities. For example, "Get government off the back of business." That's a strange appeal to make to investors and retirees who watched a third of their invested wealth disappear through corporate fraud and theft over the past several years.

After Enron, CitiCorp, Putnam, Strong, etc., do they really want less government oversight of thieves and cheats in businesses, banks and mutual funds?

Taxation is another favorite subject of conservative myth-makers, the most popular non-sequitur being that tax cuts stimulate the economy. Perhaps, as long as we keep paying our bills. Which, thanks to G.W. Bush's current tax giveaway, we ain't. We're running up deficits like there's no tomorrow.

Even Reagan was smart enough to back away from his signature tax cut when he realized the assumptions on which it was based were false. Yes, he cut taxes in 1981. And in 1982 he took about a third of those cuts back from both corporations and individuals. As economist/author Paul Krugman recently noted: "No peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people."

I was recently taken to task on these pages for suggesting that tax cuts as stimulus for the economy don't live up to the hyperbole. The writer pointed out that Gross Domestic Product during the Reagan years was a huge 3.4 percent a year, compared to an itty-bitty 3.24 percent a year over the preceding decade.

Reagan's tax cut "miracle" was easily overshadowed by the results produced by the Clinton administration with a tax increase: GDP growth at 4.2 percent a year, inflation close to half of that of the Reagan years, unemployment reduced from Reagan's high of 9.7 percent to an almost historic low of 3.8 percent.

Clinton not only achieved those results without borrowing tons of money, he paid back 0 billion in debt left by the previous administration, reduced the .7 trillion national debt by 0 billion, and left a 0 billion surplus to his successor.

Who immediately gave it away with a tax cut to the rich to "stimulate the economy."

Why is it a surprise to conservatives that business people and investors gain confidence when government acts responsibly with the peoples' money and the reverse when they see officials dipping into the Treasury to pay off special interests?

Listening to Republican candidates try to out-promise one another on tax cuts, deregulation and other conservative catch phrases makes you wonder if they have any concept of the real world. You hope they're repeating that fatuous nonsense only because it's what Republicans want to hear.

With the GOP in the majority around here, that's really scary.
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